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In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist Paperback – 1 May 2008
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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)
Bestselling author, radio presenter and national treasure John Humphrys tackles the big question of God through his own personal journey and argues that doubt is the only credible belief.See all Product description
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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.
For me the use of 'militant' is inappropriate - perhaps 'radical' might have been a better word. To my knowledge these atheists have so far not taken to military or guerilla tactics to make their point. Humphrys attitude towards his 'militant athiests' hints at a deeper motive that eventually comes to light as he paces through the final chapters and details his conclusions.
His discussion on conciousness is interesting but stops short of seriously considering how a biologically evolved organism such as the human brain could produce conciousness and the need for belief in god. He instead surmises it must all be down to 'transcendental love'.
Pros: John Humphrys makes some great points in understanding belief, religions and the seeming unquenchable need for humans to have a god. The strength of this book is in his clear, informing detail of key subjects from various angles.
Cons: The case for reasoning a human need for god from a biological standpoint, despite a cursory nod towards evolution and discussing consciousness, is completely left untouched. Neither does he contextualise how 'god' should be considered within his narrative - clever alien? supernatural force? The author 'Sam Harris' is repeatedly referred to in the text as Sam Smith. I can only assume Humphrys is making a point I don't understand or the copy editor wasn't paying attention.
Summary: An informative and thoughtful read from an intelligent man that has seen the world and mankind for what it really is. He does not have much time for modern religions, nor it would seem the radical element of the evolutionary 'church'. As with many people he seems hopeful that there must be a god though, or at least 'something else'.
Highly recommended for anyone starting out on this whole 'does god exist' debate or looking to get a good account of the key topics and both sides of the argument.
The question he put to the Archbishop in Lahore today !was very unfair .
It was wicked human beings who perpetrated the evil act in Pakistan ,not God .
To turn on a Christian in such a way ,is very snide .
It's such a huge subject ,and it is a par with the question Why Me ? If attacked or afflicted .
A simple answer is Why Not Me .?
Turn on the perpetrators of evil Mr Humphries and pray for their souls ,,not on a loving God who Guides his loved ones to do good acts and lovingly serve each other every day ,all over the world .whom millions of good people who have been remembering the agony of Christ at this time .
It just was not fair to ask a deep theological question ,this Bank Holiday ,Monday after such a massacre , of this Holy Archbishop in Lahore with just inadequate seconds to reply .
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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