They introduced a brand new high-school religion curriculum and they’re also giving away up to $5 million in high school theology software!
The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator (Saint Benedict Press, 2015)
Recent years have seen a slew of books defending the existence of God. Some of the best include Dr. Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition, Stephen Barr’s Modern Physics, Ancient Faith, Fr. Robert Spitzer’s New Proofs for the Existence of God, and David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God. Each of those titles are tightly written and brilliantly argued, but they can also be a bit intimidating for people with no background on the subject. Last year, Trent Horn released a more accessible introduction to these arguments in his book, Answering Atheism. But a new book by Steven Hemler, The Reality of God, makes the arguments even more palatable.
The book is arranged in three parts. Part I focuses on cosmic evidence for God’s existence and covers the Big Bang and the fine tuning of nature. Part II examines biological evidence for God, both in evolution and genetic information. Part III studies human evidence for God by exploring whether consciousness, our moral sense, and our ability to reason all serve as signposts to the divine.
Hemler’s stated goal is to help ordinary Christians articulate objective reasons why God exists. In that he succeeds well. Most of the book is breezy and clear, making this an ideal introduction to the arguments for God. I would now recommend The Reality of God to most Christians before tackling any of the previously mentioned books.
However, the book does get needlessly technical in the section on genetic information, at least more than is necessary for beginners. A novice doesn’t need to understand the complexities of how nucleotide bases in DNA correctly sequence to join amino acids together to make proteins. One other gripe is that Hemler often cites DVDs, and quotes from DVDs, to support his points. It would have been more helpful to follow the lead of other introductory books and cull from advanced texts on the topic (such as those above), pointing interested readers to higher level materials rather than other popular-level presentations.
Those small criticisms aside, this is a clear, helpful introduction that is simple without being simplistic. It doesn’t wade too deeply into the philosophical arguments for God—such as Thomas Aquinas’ five ways, the argument from contingency, or the ontological argument—but that may be beyond the purvey of an introductory book like this one. What it sets out to do, it does well, and for that reason I recommend it as the first splash in a deeper well.
The family has always been central for Christians. The Catechism describes it as the “the original cell of social life,” Catholics pay great homage to the Holy Family, and recent popes have taken up the topic, from Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae to John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
But among Catholic leaders, the family is receiving more attention today than perhaps at any time in the last century. The boost started during last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Discussions about marriage and the many challenges families face today pervaded the Church. The discussion continues this year as we move toward the Ordinary Synod on the Family, scheduled for October 2015.
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