Reviewing If God Then What? by Andrew Wilson
One of the best things to come out of my decision to attend the Convergence Conference was being introduced to Andrew Wilson. The fifth session of the conference was simply the best message on the (oft controversial) topic of healing that I have ever heard. I look forward to writing more on it later.
After hearing the message, I picked up the only book of his available at the conference bookstore, and here we are. The book was obviously written for a very different purpose than the topics of his talks at the conference, but there were still undertones that I appreciated that were present in both places.
If God, Then What? is an apologetic book, with the goal of reasoning toward the existence of God. I’ve read a lot of apologetic books and blogs in my lifetime, but none quite like this. It’s simply a fun read, specifically because of Wilson’s self-aware, winsome tone. If there is any doubt as to how the book is to be read, one look at the cover artwork gives a clue. That is, seriously, but not too seriously. No muse is off limits: all the unfortunate progressions of certain forms of fundamentalism–this is true, we are right, we are winning, we are better–are rightly called out for the damage that they can cause.
The foundation of the arguments in the book are perhaps not devastatingly original; indeed, there is a reason that similar Christian arguments have been used. The difference here is all the meandering around, the analogies, and the stories that make reading the book more than worth it. For example, in one chapter Wilson builds to an argument similar to one used by Timothy Keller in his modern classic the Reason for God. That is, after objectively assessing the world and the complexity all around, what is the conclusion that seems most reasonable? Wilson walks us through his thought process, admitting somewhat sheepishly that an obscure paragraph in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy helped him to solve the inability to perform a scientific experiment to prove a Creator of the world:
“Do you know that you are looking at a…book right now rather than, say, having your brain intricately stimulated by a mad scientist? The sceptic carefully describes this alternative so that no experiment can refute it. The conclusion that you really are looking at a book, however, explains the aggregate of your experiences better than the mad scientist hypothesis or any other competing view.”
One of the passing comments that Wilson made in his talk at the conference was noting the apologetic benefit of even a single miraculous healing. A healing that would certainly be a difficult concept to make square with a world that is entirely matter in motion, with no God in the picture. Indeed, after sharing with one of his friends the story of someone he knew being completely healed after prayer, Wilson quotes his friend as responding, “If I believed what you just told me, the entire way I look at the physical world would have to change.”
Other highlights are Wilson’s confusion as to why people tend to demand that God make sense to them when He decides to do things (a wonderful thought experiment which includes ice cream treats at the beach), his thoughts on the original sin decision, and his thoughts on the differences between the major world religions–particularly those points on where Christianity sits in sharp contrast.
I’ve just read this book once, but in that short time span this book might have become one of the first that I would hand off to an intellect who is questioning or interested in Christianity, right up there with that other British author.