In this part, the author talks about his law problems in the USA and a debating competition at Yale University (10-12). It is exciting to read about Wilson’s understanding of the importance of asking questions (13). I agree with the author that questions help people perceive the world in which they live. Wilson identifies ten questions that are crucial if one wants to find out more about “truth, origin, and redemption” (13). Out of them, the biggest one is “If God, then what?” (14).
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Wilson recollects how he was called a fundamentalist during a divinity lesson at school (15). He mentions that while back then he did not realize the meaning of this word, he agrees that it was true (18-19). An important idea for consideration in this chapter is that some people are afraid of “finding out whether or not their beliefs” are true (18). Indeed, for many individuals, fear is the main motivation. However, another thought suggested by the author is even more thought-provoking. Wilson mentions that faith without reason is rather strange (27).
The question “How do you know?” is discussed in this chapter. The author talks about positivism and phenomenalism and mentions that many people say that only something we can see exists (34-36). I find one idea particularly interesting. Arguing against those who say God does not exist because they have never seen Him, Wilson remarks that many things in our lives cannot be proved by science (36).
The author contemplates physics and the appearance of the universe (48-49). He says that there are three variants of how the universe began (49). What is interesting in Wilson’s argument is that he does not consider the “multiverse” and creator scientific theories (54). I agree with the author that while science can ask a question about how we got here, it cannot provide a reply to this question.
In this chapter, Wilson discusses the issue of mind and matter (63). He mentions that the appearance of order out of chaos on the planet became possible because of the efforts of some creator (69). The author’s contemplation of what came first – mind or matter – is extremely vivid and engaging. Further, Wilson investigates the question of where life came from (73). There is a curious opinion mentioned about the purpose of life. According to Wilson, this goal was built “into the fabric of the earth” (74).
The author explains his views on what is and is not possible (77-79). His narration about an argument with a friend is rather interesting. The friend says he does not believe in miracles and does not believe in God (78-79). Wilson, however, sees a connection here and says his friend is “going round in circles” – one of his disbeliefs comes as a result of the other and vice versa (79). Moreover, the author suggests a third way of things (apart from believers and non-believers of God and miracles): if God is possible, miracles may appear or not, depending on God’s decision (80-81).
In this part, the author sums up the first half of the book and presents the remaining chapters (93). I adore how Wilson compares theology to an idea from “Dead Poets’ Society” (94). This is one of my favorite movies, and I, as well as the author, find the scene with “ripping off Mr. Pritchard” rather expressive and provoking for the liberation of one’s views (95).
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“What’s wrong with the world?” is the central theme of this chapter (96). The author remarks that the most popular answers to it are “problems-at-the-moment,” “problems-with-the-world,” and “problems with bad people” (96-97). I think Wilson has a rather good point saying that most people mean death when they talk about problems like AIDS, earthquakes, flooding, cancer, and others (100). Indeed, our understanding of a problem frequently is connected with what harm it will eventually bring to us.
The author contemplates what the world would be like without wars, hunger, and other disasters and wrong actions (113-114). Then, he suggests a remarkable idea: the problem of evil cannot be solved without “sorting out the human heart” (115). I also find another opinion of the author rather powerful. He mentions that the idea of heaven is not the best solution to fight evil (115).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the theme of this chapter. The author mentions numerous written pieces of evidence of this event (132-133). Then, he sums up two possible explanations for what happened on 9 April AD 30. The first option is that “nothing in particular” occurred on that day (134). The second one is that the evidence shows that Jesus did resurrect (134-135) As well as the author, I think that people’s belief in resurrection depends on their belief in God.
The book’s final chapter is dedicated to the question of what comes out of all the previously discussed issues (146). The author remarks that there are some events in humanity’s history whose significance is outstanding (147-148). In the list of such happenings, Wilson considers the resurrection of Jesus a prominent one (151). At the end of his book, the author says he realized that love for God implies “leaving the old life behind” and “giving up everything for the sake of the only one who mattered” (159). I can say that my attitude is similar to the author’s one.
Wilson, Andrew. If God, then What? Wondering Aloud about Truth, Origin, and Redemption. Inter-Varsity Press, 2012.