Do you check your brains at the door to follow Christ? For some Christians in response to aggressive atheists like Richard Dawkins that is their default mode. Faith is defined as a leap in the dark or believing when there is no reason to believe. Writers like Dawkins jump on that definition to prove that God does not exist.
So how do you respond to the question of proving the existence of God? Or how about the challenge that science proves their is no God? Or how about the other biggie, with all the pain and suffering in this world there can be no God?
That’s the beauty of Mitch Stokes book, A Shot of Faith to the Head: Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists, he tackles the atheistic philosophical approach and shows that is wanting. He does so in a conversational manner, and in a way you can understand and use to respond to those who challenge intellecutally God’s existence.
His purpose is to take some of the intellectual weapons, tactics and strategies from Christian philosophy and put them in our hands. The result is not just tools to use to argue for God in response to belligerent atheists, but even greater building confidence in who God is and what He has done in Jesus Christ.
My favorite aspect of the book are the “For Your Arsenal” highlights at the end of each chapter. Bullet points that highlight the main points of the chapter are given so that one can not only review what the chapter has said, but be armed to respond to philosophical discussion about God.
Building such an arsenal reflects two intentions of the book:
1. Addressing atheists. Richard Dawkins best-selling, The God Delusion from 2006 and Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything from 2007. Such an atheistic view goes beyond merely arguing against the existence of God, but equating religious belief as detrimental to life. Dawkins when asked about the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal said, “The damage [from molestation] was arguably less then the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.” Or physicist Victor Stegner who says, “Faith is always foolish and leads to many evils of society.”
2. Boost the confidence of believers, especially those who think the new wave of atheists have taken an intellectual stand that cannot be challenged. Stokes shows how they can and should be challenged.
Pursuing these two intentions, the book deals with 3 atheistic claims:
1. Belief in God is irrational.
Such a charge Stokes lays out lacks adequate evidence. Part of the challenge to atheists is not to merely accept their claim there is no God, but to have them prove there is no God. To pursue such an atheistic understanding Stokes claims is to commit intellectual suicide.
One of my favorite quotes of the book is on p. 47, “Knowing how belief in God can be rational and basic will allow Christians to better understand the nature of their faith, thereby strengthening it. And it would be difficult to overstate the importance of the calm confidence that comes with this lesson.”
That’s why this book is valuable to read. Dawkins and others have not only argued for the non-existence of God but the damage those who believe in God bring to this world. They have become zealots for atheism and condemning of all who believe in God. What causes such unbelief? Stokes unpacks Thomas Aquinas concept of the sensus divinitatis (sense of God) and how it has been lost.
2. Science has shown there’s no God.
Stokes shows that actually science has shown the need for a “divine design”. Atheists move evolution from hypothesis to accepted fact. Even if one believes in the Big Bang, who lit the match for the bang in the first place? Where does this stuff of life come from? Stokes deals with the challenges of naturalism and how each side uses mathematics. Throughout the book he deals with the scientific perspective from Plato to Aristotle to Galileo to Newton to Darwin to today. He deals with issues of naturalism and mathematics.
3. Evil and suffering show there’s no God.
For all that science can do, it cannot show how we ought to behave. The existence of moral standards show God’s unchangeable character. While the book deals with the philosophical question of evil and suffering, it does not deal with the question of why such evil and suffering happen. The question is dealt with from the perspective of God’s existence, not God’s intention. Part of that issue is the understanding that God is above us as in the case of the end of the book of Job in the Bible as well as how Joseph’s life works out in Genesis, and that God has His own experience of suffering from the Christian perspective from Jesus death on the cross.
I give A Shot of Faith to the Head 5 out of 5 stars. Stokes made me think through my response to such issues, and provided an arsenal to draw from of not only a Christian philosophical response, but also understanding the atheistic argument and shortcomings. He put such discussion in a language I could understand as well as providing footnotes that can lead to a more in depth look. For those wanting more confidence in conversations with atheists, this book provides a great shot of faith to the head.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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. Thanks BookSneeze for another good book to read!