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The Age of Doubt: Tracing the Roots of Our Religious Uncertainty Hardcover – 8 Mar 2011


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Review

'The story of Victorian doubt is both fascinating and important for understanding why we continue to be mired in fierce cultural battles over the status of evolution and the value of religious faith. This provocative book is well worth the read.' --Bernard Lightman, York University

'Lane asks the right questions of the doubting pundits, past and present. Easy to read and render[ing] complicated ideas accessible, [his book] is an altogether admirable study and ends with an amusing tour of the intellectual trivialities at American Creationist 'museums'. --Edward Norman, Literary Review

'In this elegantly written book...Lane finds something insightful to say about the nature of belief and 'what it felt like to lose one's religious faith-as an individual and, more broadly, as a people and society.' An attentiveness to the psychology of faith is one of Lane's strengths as a critic, and he evinces a genuine sympathy for the ebb and flow of changing belief...An erudite and highly readable contribution to the complex world of nineteenth-century belief'. --Mark Knight, Victorian Studies

About the Author

Christopher Lane is the Pearce Miller Research Professor of Literature at Northwestern University and a recent Guggenheim fellow. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and many other newspapers and periodicals. He is the author of numerous essays and several books on literature, belief, and psychology, including Shyness.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner 25 Feb. 2011
By Carrie J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm about two-thirds through Lane's book, having read it so far in two sittings, and it's a compelling book about doubt and faith. Much of the history was new to me, but it's presented in a dynamic way that brings the conflict alive. I love what he has to say about Richard Dawkins and "The God Delusion." Hard to put down. Five stars.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reminder that this is not a "black and white" debate 7 Mar. 2011
By bookclubber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lane has given today's public conversation a much needed intellectual history of theology. Recently, for some reason, the most publicized and influential American thinkers have felt the need (unnecessarily) to polarize this debate. Believers, atheists and agnostics will all learn from this well-researched and stylistically engaging book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of Doubt 24 Jan. 2015
By Amy Mann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taking readers from the freethinkers of eighteenth century Britain to the recent American play and movie Doubt, The Age of Doubt is a fast-paced, absorbing history of agnosticism. I was especially interested in Darwin's struggle with religious doubt and how it impacted his thinking. The focus on lesser known writers and thinkers like Anne Bronte and Robert Chambers was also helpful and informative. The book ends by detailing tensions between agnostics and "new" atheists and why Richard Dawkins, in particular, has been so dismissive of the first group. This is a smart, accessible book that adds much to the debates over faith and doubt.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Age of Doubt 14 Jun. 2012
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Lane's engrossing book reveals his vast erudition about an extremely complex topic. His description of 19th century intellectual and religious battles makes the arguments seem fresh and relevant to today's religious struggles, and indeed they are. I particularly enjoyed learning the roles played by Tennyson, Bronte, and other prominent writers in this important drama. The illustrations are exceptionally good, as pertinent and beautiful as those in any of Braudel's great works of history. I highly recommend this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read... 12 Feb. 2015
By Mark Dorough - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book about the history of religious doubt in England -- I found it engaging and enjoyed continuing with it. Especially interesting to me was the material on geology and Christian anguish about its distance from the start of Genesis. The book ends in a discussion of recent debates between atheists, agnostics, and the religious, and makes a good point about stridency on all sides and the certainties that influence extremists at each end of the spectrum. Definitely a good read.
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