Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Shot of Faith to the Head - Book Review

In A Shot of Faith to the Head: Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists, Mitch Stokes attempts to help Christians defend their belief in God and take down atheists' two main arguments against God's existence: 1. Science shows that God doesn't exist and 2. Suffering and evil show that God doesn't exist.

The book is divided into three parts with the first part using philosophy to argue that a belief in God can be rational. The next two parts each deal with the atheists' arguments, stated above.

Stokes is a senior fellow of philosophy at New Saint Andrews College, while I absolutely hated reading philosophers' discourse in my Intro to Rhetoric class my sophomore year of college. Parts of this book went a little over my head, and I was glad that at the end of each chapter Stokes included a section called "For Your Arsenal" where he gives succinct bulletpoints to sum up each chapter. Trust me, you'll need these sections. Take, for instance, this passage on page 41:

            That means that Hume has a reason to withhold judgment about the truth of each and every belief: all were produced by faculties that came from who-knows-where. But of course his belief that he should withhold judgment on everything is itself a belief. Hume should then withhold judgment about whether he should withhold judgment. And so he shouldn't believe that he should withhold judgment (nor should he believe that he should withhold judgment). He's going to feel that in the morning.

Uhm, exactly. To put it more simply in the "For Your Arsenal" section, 

          Agnostics like Hume (who didn't have the theory of evolution) don't know what to believe about our cognitive faculties' origins. They therefore have to suspend judgment about whether these faculties are reliable. But since the agnostics' belief that they must suspend judgment is also a belief, they must suspend judgment about agnosticism itself (as well as all their other beliefs). Agnosticism becomes self-defeating.

Perhaps it will make even more sense if you read the book.

Many of the philosophical arguments are sound but tiring, and I can't see myself engaging in an in-depth conversation like this with someone. The last two parts about science and suffering/evil are easier to follow, and the arguments might be easier for an average person to make. I found much of the information in the science section interesting, especially how many early scientists, such as Galileo, were Christians. And, of course, there's the wonderful argument that the universe appears to have been designed, so what's to say that it wasn't designed?

The argument for how God exists among suffering and evil is nothing new: God created us with free will and some people choose to do bad things. And even if we can't think of a good reason for evil and suffering to occur, that doesn't mean God doesn't have good ones. I could go more in-depth on this subject based on other things I've read, but this is just a book review, so I will refrain. 

As the back of the book says, "If you've ever doubted that your beliefs can stand up to scrutiny—if you've ever doubted your beliefs—this book dissolves the questions. For atheists, it is a wake-up call." However, you do need patience to get through some of the tedious passages, so if you're looking for a book on the same subject that is slightly easier to read, I'm sure there are other books out there. Lee Strobel's The Case for Faith comes to mind, although I think I liked The Case for Christ better. But perhaps because Stokes is a Christian philosopher (with a degree!) and not just a Christian, this book will hold more credence with non-believers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments:

Post a Comment