Review: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About God’ by Rob Bell

Rob Bell is a mega-church pastor and best-selling Christian author. His lasted book is called, “What We Talk About When We Talk About God.” The book was written in an odd style that focuses on seemingly random words, turning them into stepping stones to the points Bell is trying to make. Another odd aspect of the book is that it was written in some places like poetry with some lines taking up only a word or a few words. I would almost think that he was trying to stretch the book out to fill more pages like a college freshman, but Bell seems to be an artsy guy so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as far as style goes this time.

The book starts out trying to reconcile religion with science. However, I felt that the book itself pretty much shows that the two can’t really be reconciled. Bell praises science a lot and even gives an acknowledgement of the importance of science, but the latter half of the book completely abandons the scientific process by just asserting beliefs without presenting evidence for those beliefs and even decrying the need for evidence-based beliefs.

On the plus side, Bell throws out random scientific facts in a very poetic style. This aspect of the book will certainly resonate with many atheists however Bell’s intention isn’t to promote scientific thinking, but rather to use science in an attempt to justify his belief in a deity. His argument essentially amounts to, “quantum mechanics, therefore God.”

Then the book gets a little preachy. While this shouldn’t have been so surprising to me given that Bell is a mega-church preacher, it sort of was because he spent so much time earlier in the book talking about the importance of scientific knowledge only to abandon the scientific method completely and speak almost entirely as a typical preacher.

One thing that was noticeably missing from the book was the link between a belief in a creator deity and the Bible. Even if one were to accept his view of a universal creator, there is no reason to assume that the Bible has any link to this creator at all. Yet he jumps from the deistic force to quoting Jesus as if they are inherently connected.

What I liked about this book is that for Christians, this book defends science and promotes some very important questions which could lead to a loss of religious faith. Simply by acknowledging the importance and validity of science, Bell moves Christians forward even if his claims that God moves humanity forward fall short. He moves Christianity forward toward secularism and away from fundamentalism.

I didn’t find his small handful of examples of biblical progressiveness very convincing and I don’t think many Christians will either. Far from the Bible “pulling us forward” in a very small way, it just seems like a desperate attempt to justify the horrors of the Bible. Bell also failed to point out that other cultures already were far more progressive. Plus, these are the best examples Bell could conceivably come up with and that doesn’t say much for the Bible or the deity Bell is trying to promote.

As an atheist, I really enjoyed the style of the book itself and found it quite moving. As I read the book, it was like Pastor Bell was speaking to me. I really felt his voice and tone in his writing. This may be in part because of the promotional video he put out to promote the book, but nonetheless the book flowed nicely and despite the message seemed very inspirational. Atheist writers could learn a lot from Pastor Bell’s style.

Read my interview with Rob Bell.

What We Talk About When We Talk About God” by Pastor Rob Bell is available on and anywhere books are sold.

Check out more of my author interviews HERE.