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In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist [Kindle Edition]

John Humphrys
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Throughout the ages believers have been persecuted - usually for believing in the "wrong" God. So have non-believers who have denied the existence of God as superstitious rubbish.Today it is the agnostics who are given a hard time. They are scorned by believers for their failure to find faith and by atheists for being hopelessly wishy-washy and weak-minded. But John Humphrys is proud to count himself among their ranks. In this book he takes us along the spiritual road he himself has travelled. He was brought up a Christian and prayed every day of his life until his growing doubts finally began to overwhelm his faith.As one of the nation's most popular and respected broadcasters, he had the rare opportunity in 2006 of challenging leaders of our three main religions to prove to him that God does exist. The Radio Four interviews -Humphrys In Search of God - provoked the biggest response to anything he has done in half a century of journalism. The interviews and the massive reaction from listeners had a profound effect on him - but not in the way he expected.Doubt is not the easy option. But for the millions who can find no easy answers to the most profound questions it is the only possible one.

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There is all the erudition and pithy wit you would expect from Humphrys, but there is also a charming, genuine enquiry that shines through. (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

Bestselling author, radio presenter and national treasure John Humphrys tackles the big question through his own personal journey and argues that doubt is the only credible belief to have.

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More About the Author

John Humphrys has reported from all over the world for the BBC and presented its frontline news programmes on both radio and television, in a broadcasting career spanning forty years. He has won a string of national awards and been described as a 'national treasure'. He owned a dairy farm for ten years and has homes in Greece and London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternatively subtitled 'Hoping for Utopia' ? 30 Sept. 2007
The agnostic stance of this books author, detailed on the book jacket as reformed from atheist, initially put me off this. What could someone who cannot possibly make up their mind about the existence of god bring to a discussion on God? But as it turns out John Humphrys has a lot to say and most of it is very worth your time reading.

Many people in this modern age, especially those brought up within a culture historically shaped by the Christian Church, grow up with a profound capability for faith in a god but a firm belief that modern religions are not representative of this faith. Which of course leaves us with a few questions.

In this book John Humphrys clearly defines all the key questions and arguments from both sides of the God debate. He then details his interviews with prominent religious figures, looks at the emotional response to these interviews he got from the general public and then tries to look at what God might actually be. Fortunately you do not have to be a philosophy undergraduate to come to terms with the subjects detailed here, everything is presented in clear, concise English. Which makes for digesting information and coming to conclusions a relatively pain free process - given the subject.

As any debate on the existence of god must, Humphrys eventually gets to discussing evolution and importantly - the role of consciousness in our need for a god.

Humphrys accepts evolution as providing a roadmap to human life but paints a very disparaging picture of evolutionary thinkers, pretty much lumping them under the banner of 'militant atheists'. Of course much of his scorn and there seems to be plenty of it, is directed towards one Mr R. Dawkins.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars at last no ranting 14 Nov. 2007
This is an important book. Written in the even-handed manner that serves so well on the Today program, Humphreys analyses his own beliefs and holds them up in comparison for our edification. He looks at the lack of impartiality when discussing the subject in society, and presents the views of the leaders of the three major monotheistic faith clearly and fairly.

John Humphreys has the job that he has because he knows what questions the informed public would want him to ask. More importantly he has the rare ability to discard his own personal views when trying to find the truth. 'God' is a subject that almost by definition is impossible to be dispassionate about and this is the real strength of this admirable work. We see time and again how intelligent and high-achieving individuals seem to lose the plot when discussing God, and this is perhaps a reflection of its importance to our world view as well as our place in that world.

Throughout 'In God We Doubt', you will likely recognise many of the problems and comforts of religion that have occurred to you during your lifetime and it is a comforting and illuminating to have them raised and considered by Humphreys. It doesn't matter if you believe or don't: buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly balanced but not always insightful 10 Jun. 2010
I would, on the whole, agree with the review by "filthmonkey" below. At times Humphries shows very clearly that he has made a concerted effort to try to understand religion (Christianity moreso than others, for obvious reasons), and yet at other times he stumbles into tired old misunderstandings that one finds hard to believe someone hasn't corrected him on at some stage in his search - such as the idea that for most of history it would have been tantamount to a death sentence to admit you didn't believe in God.

The interviews are enlightening, not because they present the overall arguments of the various religions represented, but because they show that when it comes to faith there are no experts or teachers, only people telling you what they think. Their ideas may be informed by a wealth of theology, cleverly strung-together arguments and historical perspectives, but there's still nothing concrete. All there is left is "just believe", or "you just have to take in on faith".

The book dips a little in part six, on consience, when he misses the point by the bucketload. He somehow manages to seamlessly move from the question of whether objective morality can exist in the absence of God to the question of whether it's possible to be 'good' without God, and treat them as if they are the same question. He makes the time-honoured error of bringing up the Crusades, Inquisitions and Witchunts as unmitigates crimes of religion without showing any understanding of the historical facts and complexities of these events. He also mistakenly changes Sam Harris' surname to 'Smith' (four times no less), albeit whilst making a very cogent point. (Maybe this has been or will be corrected in subsequent editions...I've read the paperback.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Odd mixture, but very careless. 10 Sept. 2007
The first thing to note is that this book does not deserve to be judged as a thesis or a manifesto. Humphrys is a self-professed agnostic, but that does not mean he argues in favour of that position.

Humphrys career as a famous public broadcaster gives him some interesting material for this book: unique interview material from his BBC Radio 4's series "Humphrys in Search of God" with leading religious figures, and a host of letters responding to the broadcasts of these interviews.

Humphrys describes himself as a "failed" atheist, but successfully manages to persuade the reader from early on that he has a keen eye for spurious religious arguments (including those offered by such illustrious people as Rowan Williams, Jonathan Sacks or Tariq Ramadan). The first part of the book is a romp through the case for belief in God, and goes pretty well. The light, almost conversational style serve well - the book is actually a fairly quick read (I read it in one day).

Where he thinks it is appropriate Humphrys shows his dislike of "militant" atheism, and singles out Richard Dawkins for it. Actually, his criticism is well made and deserved. Though Humphrys does not make a meal out of this.

The second part of the book (roughly) deals with belief in god, what it is, how atheists explain it (though Humphrys prefers to consider only naturalistic explanations from evolution, rather than anything from, say, psychology - which is a disappointing limitation to discover).

Finally, although he recognises the dangers of religion in its institutionalised and radical forms, and even though he denies such things as the divinity of Jesus or the authority of scripture, Humphrys does assert three key things that prevent the triumph of atheism:

1. Ethics.
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