Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?
Today I just recieved in the mail a complimentary copy of a book that helped edit for Intervarsity Press entitled Is Belief In God Good Bad or Irrelevant? The book is a real life email dialogue between Preston Jones, a Christian professor of history, and Greg Graffin, the atheist/naturalist lead singer of the punk band Bad Religion. They discuss a wide range of topics, but especially the debate between a theist and naturalist worldview. I was given an advance manuscript of the book from IVP about a year ago and asked to right a critical review of it as part of the editorial process. After submitting my review I also had a chance to communicate with Preston who did most of the compiling and editing for the project.

It's an intriguing book though to be honest I was less than satisfied with it. It's a great example of real life apologetics, but unfortunately a lot of the topics discussed were just left dangling. Preston, out of a desire to be more friendly than antagonistic towards Greg, often didn't press his arguments and gave up a lot of debates without much of a fight. Though in the context of a real life relationship I understand while he would do this, in the context of a book debating Christian and Naturalist ideas it was less than satisfying. In fact, because Preston was so passive I would probably say that overall he "lost" most of the arguments. That is, I think the average reader who has no further background in philosophy or inclination to think through the issues on their own would come away feeling like Greg made the better case. As I was reviewing the book it was hard for me to not fill up the margins with all the arguments I would have been making if I had been in Preston's shoes.

Overall then, I'd say that the book is better read as a case study in how to engage in real life spiritual conversations with people without coming across too pushy or arrogant. (Though honestly Greg comes off pretty badly with that part of the equation. He may have won the arguments but throughout the book he mostly comes across as arrogant and condescending.) Anyhow, if you're a fan of Bad Religion or if you'd like to read a treatment of these topics that is more conversational than polemical you can order a copy of the book here.


posted by Mike Clawson at 11:45 PM | Permalink |


At 6/08/2006 01:17:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Stilley

Thanks for the review. Blessings, Kevin.


At 6/08/2006 05:41:00 AM, Blogger Simon

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the recommendation.


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