18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Useful for 'A' Level Religious Studies teaching,
This review is from: Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole (Paperback)
As a sceptically inclined teacher of Religious Studies, I was very pleased to discover this book. It actually covers a good deal of the content of the Philosophy of Religion syllabuses presently offered by examination boards in the UK and does so in a very clear and often amusing manner. Special highlights are the extensive treatment of the evidential problem of evil and the critique Law offers of creationism. I'm not sure that this is widely known but Religious Studies 'A' Level offers one of the best opportunities to encounter the thinking and writing of prominent atheists such as Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer and Richard Dawkins. Personally, I wouldn't be overly concerned if Religious Studies morphed into Philosophy at secondary level as there is emerging evidence that engaging with philosophical ideas from an early age boosts longer term attainment levels (as Law himself has noted in another excellent book of his - The War For Children's Minds). But in the meantime, those sceptics who would like to see Religious Studies disappear from the secondary curriculum and are, perhaps,celebrating its omission from Michael Gove's EBacc possibly need to realise that the philosophical element in this subject is something vital that surely needs to be both retained and promoted. Returning to the book itself, many (not all) of the current recommended textbooks offered by the OCR Board on the Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics are ponderously written and uninspiring. Law's book is therefore to be welcomed as a corrective to much of this stodgy fare. Indeed, Law seems to have positioned himself as the 'Anti-Vardy' in this territory (and if readers of this review are baffled by this term they just need to find out more about one of Law's colleagues at Heythrop). In closing, I would just like to add that my only reservation about the book is its treatment of ineffability, delightfully encapsulated in Law's phrase 'Effing the Ineffable'. The octagenarian philosopher Bryan Magee has recently had something to say about the difficulties of communicating the transcendental in a brief and superb article that can be freely accessed and read online by typing in his name along with the title: 'Intimations of Mortality'. For those who don't know him, Bryan Magee's 'Confessions of a Philosopher' is one of the greatest autobiographies written by one. He is not a religious believer but offers a different perspective from Law on the significance of ineffability and it would be great to see a revival of interest in Magee's writing.
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Initial post: 23 Oct 2013 13:46:30 BDT
I wholeheartedly agree that there should be more philosophy in schools - but, as someone who teaches the subject at UG and PG level - the fact that it's part of religious education perpetuates the idea that religion and philosophy are in some way related, and that you can't have ethics without religion. It can take AGES to correct that view in students...
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