On March 19th Dr. Timothy Keller’s presented “The Trouble with Christianity: Why it’s so hard to believe it” to the HBS community.
On March 19, in a talk entitled “The trouble with Christianity: Why it’s so hard to believe it,” Dr. Timothy Keller addressed a crowd of believers and skeptics in Spangler Auditorium. A best-selling author and pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Keller is currently promoting his most recent book, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. During his visit he spoke about the most common reasons why people don’t believe in God, suggested counter arguments, and entertained questions from the audience.
Keller began the evening by noting a striking religious trend in America: while the number of people who profess a strong Christian faith continues to grow, so does the number of people who don’t believe in God at all. “Our society is getting much more secular and much more religious at the same time,” he explained. To address this potentially divisive trend, he urged believers to sympathetically understand why some doubt the existence of God, and for doubters to understand why others believe.
Keller then went on to outline a number of reasons why people don’t believe in God. He talked about the problem of seemingly pointless evil and suffering, the apparent lack of tangible proof of God’s existence, and whether there can be more than one true religion. In response to each reason for doubt, Keller presented counter arguments for the existence of God. His central thesis is that most people don’t grasp the enormity of faith it takes to doubt. For instance, as a challenge to those who don’t believe in God because his presence cannot be scientifically proven, Keller observed: “if you can’t prove the nonexistence of God, then that means that there might be a God.” Rejecting this possibility, he contends, is a leap of faith.
After covering common reasons why people don’t believe in God, Keller went on to outline reasons why people should believe. He asserted that people fail to see “how problematic it is to not believe in God and Christianity.” As evidence, Keller cited the fine tuning of the universe, noting the many constants of physics that seem to point to a Creator that designed earth specifically for human life. He also spoke about the need for God as a firm basis for human rights and moral feelings.
The event ended with a series of questions and answers. Students asked about everything from salvation to wars that arise due to religion. Keller answered each question from a Christian perspective, recognizing that his views might not be popular. When asked if it is narrow to think that Jesus is the only way to salvation, he replied: “Christians aren’t being narrow; they’re deciding [Jesus] is who he says he is.” In Keller’s mind, there’s no escaping the question. And there’s no escaping that the answer, either way, is a matter of faith.
For those who missed the event, the audio of Tim Keller’s talk is available on the HBS Christian Fellowship website at www.hbscf.org.