on 4 June 1999
Joe Nickell doesn't question anyone's right to believe what they want, he simply questions those who would manipulate the faithful with false religious tangibility. Religion is not tangible, it is based on faith, and those who would use that faith for their own ends need to be exposed. A previous reviewer asked what could possibly be gained by 6,000 years of religious fakery? The naivete of that question shows that it is obviously being asked by someone too fearful to question the validity of their own faith. Control, power, fortune...aren't those the things we fight for even today? why is the Catholic church so rich? Is it because they don't want to be? That they are indifferent to the wealth gleaned from their faithful? Joe Nickell is among the astute observers of human behavior who simply wants to point out that devout religious faith, to the individual, is a choice for them to make, but devout religious faith manipulation and chicanery are much more common and need to be exposed for what they are, methods of controlling those who would not otherwise ask if the emperor, pope, minister, or faith-healer has any clothes.
on 15 April 1999
Insightful and thought-provoking examination of the need of humans to believe in a higher power, even to the point of imagining and making-up miracles. In addition Mr. Nickell shows other less noble ideas of what caused a "miracle" such as greed. I think this book will get some readers to outwardly show anger. However, inside I bet they are questioning their beliefs. Afterall, a good book should give you something to think about for a while even if it scares you. Bravo!!
on 25 February 1998
I used to think that new age books stretched the credibility of readers, but the award has to go to Nickells book. He claims that miracles, levitations, and the rest of the supernatural phenomena he critiques are the result of illusion, lies, and credulous or stupid people. The explanations he offers for miracles are so far fetched as not even to be considered. The history of religions stretches for thousands of years. Are all the testimonials of catholics, hindus, buddhists and the rest all false? What could possibly be the purpose behind so much fakery and illusion? Nickells claims its for money and fame. If that were true, monks and nuns are wasting their time in a monastery, they should go to Las Vegas instead. The book breaks the bounds of credibility. His explanations are so far fetched as not worth considering. He uses special pleading, begging the question, and arguments from ignorance among other fallacies. While it is true that cases of stigmata and other phenomena have been faked, even the vatican knows that. But their are genuine cases that are not disproven. To believe this book, we would have to believe that all religious phenomena have been faked or illusions for the past 6,000 years among hindus, buddhists and catholics. Amazing! This book is not recommended and offers a very poor critique of such phenomena. True believers are even among skeptics and such will not believe in the paranormal no matter what the evidence is.