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Book Review column title

Why God Makes Sense in a World that Doesn't

by Gavin Ortlund, Baker Academic © 2021
$22.99 paperback, 225 pages, ISBN: 978-1-5409-6409-0

Many of our readers are familiar with John Clayton's book The Rational God: Does God Make Sense? John's book is an excellent introduction to why it is reasonable to believe in God without acting on “blind faith.” Gavin Ortlund takes that concept to the next level in his book, Why God Makes Sense in a World that Doesn't.

Ortlund introduces the “Beauty, Story, and Probability in the Question of God.” In a time when some best-selling authors are writing things such as “religion spoils everything,” Ortlund sets out to show that faith in God is true and desirable — even “beautiful.” Using the concept of “story,” he explores the probability that the world had a beginning and that it has meaning, conflict, and hope. He explores those four things in the book's four chapters: The Cause of the World; The Meaning of the World; The Conflict of the World; and The Hope of the World.

When considering that the world must have a cause, Ortlund confronts the often-asked question, “What Caused God?” He answers the arguments of atheists and skeptics. In dealing with the meaning of the world, he says that “things like math, music, and love make more sense if there is a God.” He says that “mathematical truths exist independently of human minds,” and the fine-tuned constants that allow the world to exist cannot be explained by chance.

In dealing with the conflict of the world, Ortlund points out that the conflict between good and evil shapes the plot of every story in books and movies. He summarizes it as: “Good and evil clash, good struggles and suffers for a while, eventually, good defeats evil.” That leads to the last chapter on the hope of the world. Ortland writes, “While most religious figures claimed to manifest or offer the way to spiritual reality or God, Jesus claimed to be God.” His resurrection confirmed that. Through Christ's work, Orlund says, “God will not merely end pain and evil; he will mend them.”

The conclusion is that “the Christian story makes sense of the fact that the world does not make sense.” I recommend John Clayton's book if you have not read it. However, if you want to go even deeper into “Why God Makes Sense?” read Gavin Ortlund's book.

— Reviewed by Roland Earnst