In this 21st-century take on the long-standing tradition of philosophical dialogue, two intellectuals battle it out in the arena of ideas and witticisms.
Unfortunately for readers, the resulting conversation is a rather unappealing combination of sophomoric jokes and theoretical conundrums. The work is neither insightful enough to engage those interested in the theoretical arguments behind theism and atheism, nor is it accessible enough to appeal to a broader audience. That’s not to say Rauser (Historical Theology/Taylor Seminary; Is the Atheist My Neighbor?: Rethinking Christian Attitudes Toward Atheism, 2015, etc.) and Schieber, an atheist lecturer and YouTube contributor, don’t cover weighty topics. Among those is “massive theological disagreement”—if God exists, why are ideas about his nature so thoroughly varied? Elsewhere, the question arises of why God would have created a universe that is almost entirely inhospitable toward the few sentient beings meant to worship him. Do the beauty and perfection of mathematics lead one to believe in a creating God, or is this simply a fortunate reality of existence? What does evolution teach us about the existence or nonexistence of God? Rauser and Schieber go back and forth with these and other topics but offer few conclusions. Their subject matter, however, is riddled with jokes, puns, and other attempts at humor and levity, which, if minimized, would have the desired effect of removing the loaded problem of “argument” from this age-old discussion. However, the authors take it too far. After countless lines like, “I feel sick that my slick shtick doesn’t stick,” or, “since the reader can’t see me, let the record reflect that my eyebrows are rising in incredulity,” readers will simply feel patronized.
A good idea derailed for the sake of entertainment. Readers interested in this topic should turn to Gary Gutting’s Talking God: Philosophers on Belief (2016).