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How to Be an Agnostic Paperback – 1 Mar 2011

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: AIAA; Revised edition (1 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230293212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230293212
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 448,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Mark Vernon is an author and journalist, his books including 'The Meaning of Friendship' (Palgrave Macmillan), 'After Atheism' (Palgrave Macmillan) and 'Wellbeing' (Acumen - part of the Art of Living series he edits). He writes regularly for the Guardian, TLS and Evening Standard. He has degrees in physics, theology and a PhD in philosophy, and is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck College, London, as well as a founding member of the faculty at The School of Life, London. He used to be a priest in the Church of England. He is a keen blogger at www.markvernon.com

Product Description

Review

'Mark Vernon - a former Anglican priest who left the church only to find dogmatic unbelief just as unsatisfying - shows how being an agnostic can be a modern version of the spiritual life. If you are discontented with simple-minded atheism and literal-minded faith, this is the book for you.'- John Gray, author of The Immortalization Commisssion: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death 
 
'This lucid and eminently readable book brings home to the reader the importance of recognising the limits of our knowledge. At a time when public and private discourse is often characterised by an aggressive and unrealistic certainty, it is an important contribution.'- Karen Armstrong, one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs

'As ever, Mark Vernon writes with sharp insight and a generous understanding of how humans search and create meanings to sustain their lives. He is, quite simply, one of the few writers in England today who really understands the impulse to religious belief and how a faithless age can respond. There are few others I trust to bring such intelligence and sympathy to these issues.' - Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian
 
'Between religion and atheism is a third way into which Vernon takes his readers. It is a challenging, cogently argued perspective.' - Good Book Guide

'For twenty years I have been waiting for a book that exposes the empty certainties of religious fundamentalism and its secular twin: scientific triumphalism. Mark Vernon has delivered that and much, much more.' - Mark Dowd, broadcaster and film-maker

'He defends ambiguity and undecidability with an almost Evangelical zeal. And because he writes with such a delicate blend of deft coolness on the one hand, and fervour on the other, many are likely to be both enchanted and persuaded by his apologetics. - Martyn Percy, Church Times

'The strength of the book...is in challenging false certainties, whether pseudo-scientific or pseudo-religious.' - Dolan Cummings, The Institute of Ideas

'This book is more than a well-reasoned argument for agnosticism; it is a timely reminder of the recognition of human limits, in all areas, and a suggestion that the possibility of living within the mystery that is the world can be a good thing.' - Robert L. Smith, Jr., International Journal of Public Theology

Book Description

Part personal quest, part search through science and theology, part discovery of Socrates, this book asks what a spiritual person can make of God and religion today.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an important book that examines the positive form of agnosticism (the kind that embraces uncertainty, rather than the kind that just doesn't know).

It feels a bit too heavily weighted towards Socrates (presumably the author's "specialist subject") than perhaps the topic demands and sometimes reads as slightly uncharitable (for example, when discussing "mindfulness"). It is though a cogent discussion of this complex and arguably neglected middle-ground (resisting the easy answers of the extremes is always going to be more challenging and therefore unattractive). It does that complexity justice though in the strength of its arguments and the writing comes especially alive when the author details his personal experience of leaving the Anglican priesthood.

Did Dr Vernon really rate his own book as 5* in another review here? Hardly cricket.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like any book dealing with the question of existence or non-existence of a deity or form of
after-life, this book can ultimately only ponder and probe.
However, after reading this thought provoking work I found myself somewhat enlightened and
uplifted by Mark Vernon's viewpoint and subjections in regard to the ultimate sense of
'Not Knowing'.

Special mention has to made to pages 55-56 where the existence of a would-be God is compared
to the 'Higgs boson particle collider'. The resulting conclusion, while still being robustly
agnostic serves as a justification of certain uncertainty which basic humanity and the human
spirit demands.

This book is also full of musical references which highlight the fact that if there is indeed
some kind of unseen deity existing beyond our comprehension, then it is only fitting that this
deity is somehow connected to the most powerful absract artistic force known to mankind.
On the whole 'How to be an Agnostic' avoids falling into the trap of appearing complacent in
regard of not having to prove or disprove a divine entity by always bringing the reader new
and fascinating insights into one of life's never ending debates.

A highly recommendable read then, worthy of Four Stars and a must for anyone who thinks that
agnosticism is just a safe and easy middle way between theism and atheism.
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Format: Paperback
A bit naughty that nothing in the information here warns you that this book is in fact a revised and updated of Vernon's 'After Atheism - Science, Religion & the Meaning of Life' rather than a brand new title... sorry, it is a new 'title' but it's not a 'new' book. Is it ethical, Mr Vernon/Amazon, to publish a book under a new title without making it very apparent to potential buyers that it is a version of a book they might already own?

Having said that, 'After Atheism' is an excellent book and I wanted to reread it and probably would have bought this revised version anyway. So, if you've not read 'After Atheism' I strongly recommend getting this; if you have, you might want to stop and think before you purchase!
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