Father Thomas Williamsí Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God is a rebuttal of some atheist authorsí criticism and attacks on God and religion, critics who have taken aim not only at Christianity but also other religions. Fr. Williams takes up the gauntlet, challenging these assertions from a Roman Catholic Christian point of view, defending other religions in the process and arguing that atheists are dead wrong in their attacks on religion.
The atheist authors Fr. Williams specifically rebuts include Richard Dawkins, who wrote The God Delusion (2006); Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (2005) and Letter to a Christian Nation (2006); Daniel C. Dennett, who wrote Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006); and Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007). Fr. Williams says that these atheists say that religion is harmful to humanity, a major source if not the cause of much of the violence in the world throughout history and today.
Fr. Williamsí introduction presents these atheists and their criticisms of religion then divides the book into five parts. Each chapter starts off with a question proposed by the atheists and answered by Williams, questions dealing with various topics. Can people be moral without religion? Are religious people less intelligent than non-religious? Does religion do more harm than good in society? Is religious education a form of child abuse? Is Christianity against science? Is religious faith irrational? Did Jesus really exist? Do Christians hate sex? Are atheists more tolerant than believers? Some of these criticisms border on the ridiculous. Williams shows in his presentations that some of these questions are not rational, and that many of these issues or topics posed show ignorance or contempt for the good that religion (and Christianity in particular) do for individuals and for society. He wonders if some of these authors have had some kind of bad experience with a particular person who was religious.
Many scientists today and in the past have believed in God or had a religion they believed in; these atheist authors, however, say that true science does not need religion, that science can explain everything. Williams refutes this, quoting eminent scientists who are believers. It would seem these authors are ignorant of the works of some scientists like Newton who wrote about science as helping to reveal God.
Williamsí ideas and rebuttals flow very well, which makes this book a quick read, but it really is not for the general reader. Readers may also want to read it slower than this reviewer did and ponder what Williams has to say. Endnotes are provided, but not a bibliography or index. Greater Than You Think could be the beginnings of a much larger volume with expanded material and is highly recommended to those in a rebuttal of atheists. It will also be of interest to atheists and agnostics.
Fr. Thomas D. Williams of the Legionnaires of Christ teaches theology at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome. He is also a Vatican analyst for CBS News, NBC News, and Sky News in Britain. He has written several articles and books. His books include: Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want to Be (2007) and Who is my Neighbor? Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights (2005).