Asking an author about their new book is like asking parents about their new baby, if you get my drift. A polite question (How’s the new baby?) is met with a wallet full of photos and a seemingly endless parade of anecdotes about nocturnal sleeping patterns, dirty diapers at inopportune times, unforgettable smiles, blah blah blah.
All that is to warn the reader from further enquiry into my forthcoming book, for you never know what you’ll get. Mike, for instance, politely asked about a Table of Contents. So of course I’ve got to flip my wallet open and start pulling out photos. Shameless. Absolutely shameless.
For starters, here is an advertising blurb to convey a sense of the book:
The “textbook approach” to apologetics (teaching formal arguments in an “ivory tower” setting) can be very valuable. But then you discover that all the formal arguments you studied in an ivory tower can quickly become obscured in the rough and tumble of real life conversations with skeptics, atheists, humanists and the like.
In recognition of the need for a primer for apologetics as it emerges in real conversations, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetics Rabbit Trails offers the reader an invitation to join in one long conversation between apologist Randal Rauser and an atheist named Sheridan. The setting is a coffee shop as apologetics in the real world unfolds with all the rabbit trails, personal baggage, and distractions that inevitably come (as well as the occasional distracting hiss of the espresso machine). The book brings together the best of argument-based apologetics with vivid illustrations and humorous moments. But it also highlights the importance of apologetics as a narrative as the reader gets to know Sheridan better and to understand the personal history that drives his atheism.
The book covers a range of topics in the haphazard winding form that long, informal worldview conversations tend to take. As coffee is consumed and the afternoon wears on the conversation winds through such topics as faith and reason, the nature of morality, the idea of providence and miracles, biblical atrocities and the doctrine of hell, the nature of atheism and agnosticism, and trusting God. Through this extended conversation the reader really gets to know Sheridan and the kind of objections and issues that motivate his skepticism. Ultimately The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetics Rabbit Trails is much more than an introduction to apologetic conversation: It is a transformative apprenticeship in the grand conversations where eternity touches down in everyday, caffeinated conversations.
And now for the Table of Contents:
1 a·pol·o·ge·tics. Noun. The pursuit of truth in conversation
2 The sacramental properties of caffeine
3 Why a good argument ain’t such a bad thing
4 The Grande Conversation begins!
5 ‘Reasonable’ scientists, ‘deluded’ believers, and the quest for objectivity
6 What must you do to see a buffalo or cast a vote?
7 God, matter, and other astonishing hypotheses
8 Faith: it’s in the air
9 So which beliefs are ‘properly basic’?
10 God is not a hypothesis
11 How to show that ‘God loves me’ is false
12 The Swedish Atheist and the Scuba Diver
13 Will the real atheist please stand up?
14 I just happen to believe in one less god than you
15 The pastry I freely choose
16 Naturalism, scientism, and the screwdriver that could fix almost anything
17 God as a simple answer
18 A giant Mickey Mouse balloon and the Keebler Elves
19 From personal cause to most perfect being
20 Why Zeus, at least, isn’t God
21 Would a most perfect being have a most imperfect church?
22 Would a most perfect being command genocide?
23 What hath a most perfect being to do with a most horrendous hell?
24 An eternal eye for an eye
25 Three types of relativist and two types of evil
26 Good humans, genocidal aliens, and serial killers who know what they want in life
27 Playing games with morality
28 God is dead and you have killed him, et cetera
29 What does God taste like?
30 The light cast by little amazing moments of providence
31 The Taliban and the Serenity Prayer
32 Feel free to sit on the fence, but don’t get caught in the lava flow
34 A Love Supreme
Like I said, shameless.