So! – Can You Tell Me What to Believe?

If the title of Ken Crispin’s book, A Skeptic’s Guide to Belief, gives you the impression that he will tell you what to believe and how to believe “in spite of” 21st century skepticism towards all things religious, you will be very sadly disappointed.

Very, very sadly disappointed.

It isn’t that he is hostile to things religious or things scientific. It is the case that he expects folks to think for themselves, to rationally consider the claims, proposals and arguments of theists, atheists, and agnostics and come to their own considered opinions.

Yes, that means you may be required, no, in his opinion ARE required to know what you think and why you think that way.

And, he offers the committed reader a start down that road.

He surveys a lot of the landscape of belief, skepticism, reasoning, and disbelief. He does it even handedly and which we should consider this work a “survey” he does dig down in several places, like Richard Dawkins arguments against theism and religion.

Be prepared to hear from many voices. Crispin has obviously read deeply and widely in the literature on all sides of these “debates” and brings to our attention the contributions of many writers. And he is not a stranger to documentation and footnotes. And that is a strength in this book. While he is surveying many ideas and writers, he leaves a trail the reader can follow to more deeply explored ideas and writers that capture his attention.

Know that Crispin doesn’t let anyone “off the hook.” Just because a writer gives the impression they are of a superior mind and intellect, claims to have the best of science on their side or can recite all the classical arguments for the existence of God, Crispin will not hold back applying his skills at logic and argumentation (he is a lawyer and former judge after all) to show the weaknesses and strengths in their positions. And even the holes in their arguments.

Oh, let’s not forget his sense of humor. At least that’s what I call it. He writes with a dry humor that can disarm and gently pick holes in what he sees as poor or lazy reasoning. He moves fast over much literature but with an ease that keeps the reader engaged.

As I read more into his book, I began making a list of folks I needed to buy copies for. For many years I was told I was too critical when it came to things religious, and needed to relax and not “think so much at church.” That never set well with me. If more of my church friends were willing to read Crispin’s book, and spend some time developing the “why” of their beliefs and not just the “whats,” they would have a much better chance of communicating with many more people.

Give Crispin a read. You might see why skepticism is both a skill and attitude that can enrich your life, and yes, even your “believing” or “disbelieving.”

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.

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