Have you heard the story of True Reason? It’s the tale of a book that went from conception to completion in just seventy-seven days; a story that includes both uncommon cooperation and odd sorts of conflict, with God’s hand obviously on it at every step. The surprises continue all the way through to the second edition, just released by Kregel Publications.
It started with a misnamed atheistic rally.
On March 24, 2012, leading New Atheists held “the largest gathering of the secular movement in history” on the mall in Washington D.C. They called it the “Reason Rally.” I had heard about this, and it bothered me. I’d read enough New Atheist literature, and debated enough atheists online, to reach the conclusion that reason was the New Atheists’ weakness, not their strength. “Reason,” for them, seemed to be summed up in rejecting any knowledge that doesn’t come through empirical study, especially science.
Unfortunately, by my observations, “reason” hadn’t seemed to include thinking rationally from evidences or premises through to a conclusion; or at least, it didn’t seem to include that in practice. They just didn’t do it very consistently well. Yet in virtually all their self-descriptions, not just the Reason Rally, they branded themselves the part of reason.
This bothered me, as I said. More specifically, it was bothering me at 3:00 am on Christmas Eve morning, 2011, of all times. As I lay awake there, I kept asking myself, Why are we letting them get away with this? Someone should write a book. But it’s only three months away!
The 77-Day Book
Then I realized I had friends who could write, and that an ebook would take no time at all to publish. Seventy-seventy days later it was up for sale on Amazon.com (that link is for the first edition ebook only; the second, print edition is here). During its first weekend it edged out Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” as the top selling book in the atheism category.
The book was partly about New Atheists’ inconsistent performance in the practice of reason, and also about the reasonability of Christianity as a belief system.
God did amazing things to make it happen. I had some serious foot surgery done on February 16, but being laid up actually gave me more time to work on it. Patheos.com helped us get it published.
The real credit, humanly speaking, goes to all the contributors who cooperated with a very quick and intensive approach to getting it completed, and especially to Carson Weitnauer (now the U.S. Director for Ravi Zacharis International Ministries) who stepped in to co-edit it with me. The Christian Apologetics Alliance was a great source of encouragement, and it was where we connected with most of our writers. William Lane Craig and Sean McDowell graciously allowed us to include some of their work.
At the Reason Rally
Ratio Christi, the new (at that time) student apologetics alliance, decided to bring students to the Reason Rally. I went with them, co-leading the outreach there with Blake Anderson. At the time we were simply friends; since then I’ve since taken up a position as Ratio Christi’s National Field Director. I was in a wheelchair, still recovering from foot surgery.
David Silverman, the Reason Rally’s lead organizer, had sent me a blistering email demanding that we stay away, threatening to have security “escort you to the First Amendment pen.” Dozens of atheists asked how we felt “entitled” to “crash” their event; as if they were the first advocacy group to hold a meeting at the base of the Washington Monument and have anyone show up who disagreed.
We showed up, of course, and for the most part it was a good experience. We handed out free bottles of water and a pamphlet with the first chapter of True Reason.
I could tell you about the encounter Blake and I had with arch-atheist P. Z. Myers (“Are they ridiculing you here? They should be,” he told us). Or I could share the story of the man who told me, “I’m not interested in someone rising from the dead. I want you to tell me how the donkey talked”—but that one has already been told.
Head-To-Head with Dawkins (In a Way)
Patheos.com opened the door for me to get a column published in the Washington Post, right next to one by Dawkins. The editor titled mine, “Atheists Don’t Own Reason.” I had wanted for a long time to go head-to-head with Dawkins. This came satisfyingly close to that.
True Reason Goes From Ebook to Print
Three of our ebook’s chapters were reprints from previous books published by B&H and Kregel. They had given us ebook permission only. Carson and I were working with Patheos to bring the book into print. When I inquired with Kregel about print permissions, Dennis Hillman, their lead publisher, contacted me and offered to do it for us. Patheos.com had had a change of personnel, and the person working our account (who is also no longer there) was surprised to discover they only held ebook rights, not print rights.
So the door was opened for us to have it published by a legitimate academic and trade publishing house, at the publisher’s initiative—another miracle, if you ask me!
Thank God for all he has done. Our goal was to stand in the way of the atheists placing an uncontested claim on reason. I wonder if we could have done even more, but we’re grateful God used us to do what we did.
The Rest of the Story
I had originally wanted to title the book, “Reason, Really?” as a direct rebuttal to the Reason Rally. But Carson Weitnauer and our helpers at Patheos.com convinced me that the book could long outlive the one small splash of the Reason Rally. It turned out they were right. We gave it a more perennial-sounding title, and people have kept expressing interest in it, right up to the publication of this new edition. New Atheists still brand themselves the party of reason, and they still practice it poorly.
The print book includes some corrections (77 days, remember), some updates based on feedback from the first edition, and most importantly, two additional chapters (details here), a foreword by John Stonestreet, and a host of prominent endorsements.