An impassioned defense of a logical Christianity that meshes with scientific reality.

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A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO GOD

Spivey (Stories of Faith and Courage from the Korean War, 2013, etc.) blends personal anecdotes, theology and science in this accessible work of Christian apologetics.

Retired Marine Spivey grew up in what he calls an “Old Testament” household: He knew he was expected to do his duty and never question orders. When he entered college, however, he was drawn to mystical poetry and the work of Ayn Rand, and the pressures of boot camp drove him away from chapel. Once he became a family man, he fulfilled his Bible Belt duty by attending church, but didn’t actually become a Christian until age 53. To provide context for his doubter’s journey, Spivey sidetracks into lengthy discussions of science and the Bible, answering some common objections along the way. Cartoons from The New Yorker and extracts from Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (1911) keep the tone light. His survey of quantum physics and evolution is well-pitched—in-depth, but unlikely to alienate laypeople: “Many [physicists] concede there may be mysteries beyond their understanding,” he notes. Although he’s willing to admit that the theory of evolution is useful, Spivey proposes it as the method God used to fashion humanity. “There need be no contradictions between the findings of science and the beliefs of the great monotheistic religions of the world,” he declares. Indeed, Christianity, as he presents it, could support science by providing the “why” behind biology’s “what” and “how.” Countering thinkers such as Richard Dawkins, who endorse purely empirical worldviews, Spivey makes a strong case for “amazement.” He acknowledges that classical theological proofs for the existence of God, such as those by St. Anselm of Canterbury and St. Thomas Aquinas, are unlikely to convince skeptics, but makes a case that having a sense of wonder about the natural world might. His overview of the Bible is less helpful, however, and the later chapters seem to lose objectivity; the conclusion, especially, reads like an altar call (“If you are able to put your skeptical nature on hold for now and accept Jesus into your heart for who he claims to be, I urge you to say the following prayer”). Some of the theologizing, particularly about the problem of evil, is unconvincing, but most of the author’s points are grounded in hard science and his own experience.

An impassioned defense of a logical Christianity that meshes with scientific reality.

Pub Date: June 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494848477

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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