Book Review: A Place For Truth ed. by Dallas Willard

This is a fascinating, thought-provoking and highly enlightening collection from some highly notable thinkers and authors. I won’t go through all 15 chapters, but will highlight a few. These are all taken from lectures and discussions which have been presented at the Veritas Forums over the course of several years. They do seem to have been copied verbatim, which does mean that some slips of the tongue or mishearings have crept into the text, though this is a minor point that could be addressed by a second issue.

The start of the book is saturated with the idea of truth. In fact the word itself is used so many times, the reader can start to feel as though they are beaten over the head with it. However, the discussions do widen out and cover various topics such as, inter alia, science, morality, theodicy, ontology and philosophy.

The reason I chose this book was because of a few particular names that jumped out at me; my having been impressed by other works of theirs which I have read: Francis Collins, Alister McGrath and N.T. Wright. Now the contributions by these particular individuals is pretty much taken from their other works which I have already read. So for example, if you have read Francis Collins’ The Language of God, then his chapter will contain little that is new to you. So the most novel chapters were those from whom I had not come across before.

There is a distinct Christian bias to the book, though there are some discussions which put across alternative views which help to add some amount of balance to the proceedings.

As with the nature of any composite work such as this, the contributions do vary in quality and style. There will be some that you agree with and some that you disagree with. The one disappointment I had was with the chapter by Hugh Ross, whose arguments appeared very weak and insubstantial, particularly given the high quality of thinking and delivery that was evident elsewhere. On a few occasions, there was also a bit of a bias towards the american education system, which distances a few of the speakers from the non-american audience.

This is very much a book of the current time with the issues being discussed and the other recent writings referred to being very much focused on issues that have come to the fore in only the last decade or so. So as a comment on the status of truth and various related issues, this is a very good guide on the modern thought, though I suspect that it will not have a shelf life of more than 10 years, as by then discussions will have moved on and some of the contributions may appear outdated.

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