11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity (Paperback)
This is not a book of apologetics addressed to unbelievers but is designed to be a comforting read for believers in need of a bit of reassurance or, for the less charitable, a desire to feel smug. OK, maybe that's a bit unfair, I was given this book by a most charming, very earnest, Christian lady whose desire to believe simply strips away any critical faculties.
The real message of the book is hidden away at the bottom of page 231 of the paperback edition - the first page of the epilogue. It simply states that unbelievers are 'smart-ass-know-it-alls.' So much for the respect apparently shown the intelligent, but ultimately convertible sceptic. Rational debate gives way to giving the finger. The impression is given, however, that the term 'unbelievers' is not meant to include members of the other 2500 religions plus on the planet but is reserved for atheists and agnostics.
Like another reviewer I was blown away be the sheer brazen audacity of of the chapter in which, when faced with an awkward problem, the author (whoever created this no-doubt imaginary dialogue) simply did away with the omniscience of the Christian god to make a point. That's it - the author, presumably a heretic of some description - says that the Christian god is not all-knowing! (He does accept, no doubt with tongue-in-cheek, that this is a matter of debate, implying in turn that Christians believe in a god but can't agree on a fundamental characteristic here or there). This is the problem that the non-religious always faced when discussing matters with the religious. When faced with a problem the religious typically side-step it: 'Good heavens! I don't believe in that particular inconvenient dogma.' It makes it well-nigh impossible to debate religion when religion is such a pliable thing.
Nor is there any rational debate. It is NOT a rational argument to say that all cultures have believed in various spiritual beings therefore they exist. In particular, the central argument of the book viz., that humans have personal lives and therefore the universe must be personal in nature is totally without any rational basis whatsoever. The arguments given tend to the trivial and there are far better books in defence of religious belief.
The funniest line in the book is 'We have sex drives, and, behold, there is sex.' It's the sex drive that came first so god very kindly provided us with sex to satisfy it. If that isn't the silliest argument I've heard. I'll try my own: 'I like chocolate so I'll invent it.' OK it wasn't as good as the book but I'm only an amateur at this.
Overall the book is a naive and simplistic hot water bottle for the soul - or would be if such a thing existed.
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Initial post: 14 Feb 2014 13:54:16 GMT
S. J. Payne says:
This is an absolutely splendidly to-the-point review. Bravo.
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