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Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith [Hardcover]

Francis S. Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Mar 2010

“A brilliant, wide ranging and powerful series of readings on the possibilities, problems and mysteries of faith. This book belongs on the shelf of every believer—and every serious skeptic.” — Rabbi David Wolpe, author of Why Faith Matters

“This life-giving, faith-filled and hard-nosed collection reveals why, as St. Anselm wrote, true faith always seeks to understand.” — Rev. James Martin, author of My Life with the Saints

From Dr. Francis Collins, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of God, comes the definitive reader on the rationality of faith.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (15 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061787345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061787348
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15.4 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 641,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

“BELIEF is more than an anthology; it is a provocation, a brilliant, wide ranging and powerful series of readings on the possibilities, problems and mysteries of faith. This book belongs on the shelf of every believer – and every serious skeptic.” (Rabbi David Wolpe, author of WHY FAITH MATTERS)

“This life-giving, faith-filled and hard-nosed collection reveals why, as St. Anselm wrote, true faith always seeks to understand.” (Rev. James Martin, SJ, author of My Life With the Saints)

“Because I teach in the area of faith and reason I have a shelf full of anthologies, and I have to say that this is the most varied and interesting of them all.” (Nancy Murphy, co-author of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? and Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary)

“As I read through the chapters, I felt I was at a banquet table with old friends. What a feast Francis Collins has served!” (Philip Yancy, author of What's So Amazing About Grace)

A wonderful expose on the different arguments for religious and spiritual beliefs. These readings are critical for our understanding of religion and will be essential for fostering greater dialogue about the nature of religion in the future. An important read for anyone interested in the study of religion and spirituality. (Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of Why God Won't Go Away)

“Francis S. Collins—a foremost geneticist and author of the bestselling The Language of God—has compiled a rich array of readings in his new book.” (America Magazine)

“Any seeking clarity on the debate between reason and faith will find this an engrossing collection.” (The Bookwatch)

From the Back Cover

"Is there a God?" is the most central and profound question that humans ask. With the New Atheists gaining a loud voice in today's world, it is time to revisit the long-standing intellectual tradition on the side of faith. Francis Collins, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of God and renowned physician and geneticist, defends the reason for faith in this provocative collection. Collins is our guide as he takes us through the writings of many of the world's greatest thinkers -- philosophers, preachers, poets, scientists -- both past and present, including such luminaries as C. S. Lewis and Augustine, and unexpected voices such as John Locke and Dorothy Sayers. Despite the doubts of a cynical world, this essential companion proves once and for all the rationality of faith.

"In the twenty-first century, many seem to have concluded that the spiritual experience and the life of the mind ought to occupy separate domains, and that disruptions, conflicts, and disenchantments will result if the firewall comes down. Surely humanity's ongoing search for truth is not enriched by such limitations. In the words of Socrates, the key to a fully mature and richly rewarding life, both for us as individuals and as a society, is to ‘follow the argument wherever it leads,' unafraid of the consequences. If this collection of essays provides even a small encouragement in this direction for the seeker, the believer, or the skeptic, that will be gratifying indeed." -- from the Introduction


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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed blessings 27 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As with any anthology of writings, this is going to be hit and miss. There are some outstanding sections in here that has prompted me to read the full books from which extracts are taken, and there are some that leave you wondering what the point of their inclusion was. The standout writings are those by Tom Wright and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It was almost inevitable that Alister Mcgrath would have to be included, but the selection that was used was not his best. Perhaps his chapter on faith in "Dawkins' God" would have been a better choice. The early part of the book is tough-going and took several re-reads to fully grasp the arguments.

Is it good? Undoubtedly. Is it likely to convince many people to alter their views? Probably not.

A worthwhile read, but The Language of God remains Collins' best work to date.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended. 10 Jun 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Any anthology of this sort is bound to draw argument and disapproval from some. The book itself is a compilation of extracted chapters from over 30 author's major works.

Whilst the major argument is bound to centre on weather a certain piece should have been included or whether another article would have been better suited the book has more than enough to cater for everyone's individual tastes, no matter how varied. For me, the highlights included:

St Anselm - God as being that which nothing greater can be conceived
Blaise Pascal - On Pascal's Wager
Keith Ward - On the irrationality of `religion' as a construct
Desmond Tutu - On suffering and Nelson Mandela
Timothy Keller - On justice and misconceptions
Martin Luther King - On human dignity
Paul Brand - On his experiences as a medical surgeon
John Polkinghorne - On the correlation between science and faith
Mother Teresa - On human kindness
Anthony Flew - On rationality, and following the argument wherever it goes

For me these articles stood out amongst the rest, however, for others I'm sure different articles would be listed.

The book itself is nicely presented, in good size front. Each essay is designed to be read in a singular sitting, and therefore none of the essays are particularly long. At the start of each article Collins gives an introduction to the author and the piece included. The purpose of the book is to highlight intellectual theism and the rationality of faith.

Whether the arguments made convince you is irrelevant. Rather as Alister McGrath says: "the hallmark of intelligence is not whether one believes in God or not, but the quality of the processes that underlie one's beliefs".
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual integrity meets 21st century thought 10 May 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a physician and cancer research scientist, and a Christian, and I have for decades seen no conflict (indeed, I have seen the opposite) between the truth I see in nature (including Darwinian evolution) and belief in the God of Abraham. The so-called conflict is largely, in my opinion, contrived for the purpose of some religious leaders and other radicals to help them maintain control and wealth. This is not a new struggle, as history shows, and one that Jesus also faced with the Pharisees and the Romans.

Belief is a collection of writings from thoughtful men and women throughout the ages (beginning with Plato) who, using their reason, explain the basis for their faith-based belief system. While specifics change, there is a fundamental acknowledgement that all belief (whether in a God or not, and whether in a personally-involved God or not) is a matter of faith; indeed, we must all base our beliefs, in God or not, on faith since we cannot "test outside the box" of the universe, being contained completely within it.

Belief does a credible job dealing with the great question of the First Cause and with mankind's need for a moral fulcrum. The former is a mystery of mysteries, and the latter is surprisingly similar in all belief systems. Indeed, without the latter, we will end up with either one end of extremism (totalitarian Fascism) or the other (totalitarian Communism) - both of which are remarkable similar in effect and both of which are unacceptable.

Ultimately, this collection of writings demonstrates that one can be both a believer in God and also intellectually intact - these two options are not mutually exclusive, despite the false dicotomy often presented by others with a variety of agendas. I am glad to see a thoughtful response to this too-often tirade against "religion" as the "opium of the people." Belief demonstrates that having faith that "God is" just as intellectually legitimate and defensible as having faith that "God is not" and that, if thoughtfully and morally applied, can be personally rewarding.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It! 1 Aug 2010
By bookworm1858 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Belief-Francis S. Collins
HarperOne, 2010
312 pages
Essays; Non-fiction; Inspirational

Summary: An anthology exploring faith and visiting the works of many brillaint thinkers including those expected as CS Lewis and St. Augustine as well as the unexpected like Dorothy Sayers.

Thoughts: The book is divided in to different sections with essays relating to a particular theme are grouped together. Originally I was just going to share my favorites but since I loved almost all of them, I decided to go through each and highlight particular thoughts. The first is a selection from NT Wright introducing thoughts on justice and spirituality. I enjoyed it a lot.

The second section is classic essays about faith from such philosophers as Plato, Augustine, and Pascal. I had a lot of trouble reading these because the style is so different from what I'm used to. The nice thing about this book though is that you can skip around and just read however much you want. I struggled through these difficult sections though and I think I learned a lot.

The third section is called "The Meaning of Truth" and this was a very good section, probably my second favorite. OS Guinness has a beautiful selection from his book Time for Truth which has jumped on to my to-read list. Madeleine L'Engle takes a personal approach to truth, sharing many examples from her own life. And Dorothy L Sayers (probably best known for her Lord Peter mysteries) wrote an entertaining essay including a "review" of the book of John and ending with a poem on truth.

Then there is "Loving God With All Your Mind" goes back to the Scripture: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" -Matthew 22:37 and stresses the last which has a tendency to be overlooked.

Next "Faith and the Problem of Evil and Suffering," which was probably my favorite section and the one that hit me the most. Art Lindsley, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel wrote so clearly and made so much sense to me. I don't want to blather about it but it was good.

"Faith and the Cry of Justice" was also a good section as it shows the ways in which the church has failed to respond to injustice but also how it has fought for it.

"The Harmony of Science and Faith" was an important section for me. It features two selections from two physicians who have wrestled with the intersection of science and faith. My college Christian community has struggled with spreading the Word because of the presumed gap between science and faith expressed by many college students.

"Miracles, Longing, and Mysticism" features CS Lewis among others, making this a fabulous section. Lewis's essay is about miracles and our perceptions around such. Alister McGrath incorporated excerpts from stories about two of my favorite detectives and Thomas Merton shared briefly about mysticism.

Then we have "Love and Forgiveness as Pointers to God" with selections from Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was killed by the Nazis and Viktor Frankl who survived four Nazi concentration camps inspiring me with their deep insights. Mother Teresa also has several writings that convict me of selfishness to finish out the chapter.

"Voices from the East" has selections from Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, offering different perspectives on faith informed by their experiences in the East rather than the Western mindset of most of the other contributors.

The last section is titled "The Irrationality of Atheism" and was one I was particularly intrigued by. But I interpreted the title differently. I was hoping for more of an apologetic approach while they showed logical inconsistencies and flaws in the atheistic approaches.

Overall: I'm feeling pretty good about this so I'm going to say 5/5.

Cover: I was attracted by the simple orange spine peeking out at me on the shelves. I'm not entirely sure why orange but it is an unconventional choice.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any seeking clarity on the debate between reason and faith will find this an engrossing collection 11 July 2010
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith provides readings selected by Francis Collins, author of THE LANGUAGE OF GOD. It examines the nature and possibilities of faith and belief, gathering under one cover essays that examine faith from an intellectual perspective. Any seeking clarity on the debate between reason and faith will find this an engrossing collection.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking collection of essential writings 4 April 2010
By Jeb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr. Collins states in the introduction: "The increasingly secular Western world seems to be loosing touch with the long history of intellectual arguments supporting a rational basis for faith." As a student and thinker of history who has read most of the Western classics, I find this book very timely. It is my understanding that every previous effort to drive God and faith out of social beliefs has ended in the downfall of all of those regimes. I have a science degree and was often challenged both externally and with internal questions about the meaning of faith and is there a God. A bit like C. S. Lewis and many others, I have often endeavored to prove in my own mind by extensive study and thought that God may not exist.

This book Belief offers a broad spectrum of essential writings for all to ponder and draw their own conclusions based on "a long history of intellectual arguments supporting a rational basis for faith," rather than the current secular media and political agenda. The book Belief should be required reading in order to receive a high school diploma in the US to help prevent cultural and college brainwashing! Historically, curious intellectual thinking people of faith have prospered and advanced, whereas the secular entertainment oriented perspective has always led to the end of that society and is a detriment to civilization. This book is must reading for all.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad I read this 14 Feb 2011
By Rachel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
All I can say is this book bolstered my faith so much. Short readings on different topics, ranging from injustice to science, from a variety of authors - some fairly light, some very dense, all showed the beauty and logic of belief in God.
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