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22 Jun

Breaking the spell – This is going to be a tough entry to write. It’s also probably going to be a tough entry to read. I know two people who are looking forward to this entry—the rest of you should consider yourselves warned. But I’ve got nine pages of barely legible notes on Daniel C. Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and I promised myself that I will somehow turn them into an at least partially coherent entry. Now that I have finished this entry, I can tell you that it is the longest entry I have ever posted here at Liminality—over six thousand words long (that’s longer than even my “What is Liminality?” essay). It also took me two weeks to write, which is longer than any other entry has taken me.

“The question is not what we believe, but why we believe.”

Before I get started, I think it’s important that I clarify how I am going to address this book. With it’s discussion of memes, I found it a very interesting study that has implications for my field, the field of folklore. As far as I know, memetics is non-existent in the Korean field of folklore study at the moment, and this book got me thinking about memes and provided me with some good materials in the bibliography that will get me started in the field. But I’m not going to address this book as a student of folklore, because ultimately that’s a tangent.

I also have an interest in religious studies, even if my knowledge in the field doesn’t really go much beyond the layman level. And even though Dennett is primarily a philosopher, what he says has serious implications for the field of religious studies. But I’m not going to address this from a religious studies viewpoint either. My knowledge is insufficient to tackle the problem from that angle.

What I am going to do is approach this book as a believer. Dennett claims to address the book to religious people, so I guess it’s only natural that I should respond that way. Also, when That David Guy first bought me the book (again, thanks), his ulterior motive was to have a fellow seeker to discuss it with. That was a while ago, and I owe him this entry.

Before I get into what Dennett says, I’d like to talk about how he says it. In the beginning of the book, Dennett seems to be directly addressing believers who fear that a scientific investigation of religion will somehow harm religion. He refers to two types of spells: the spell that has made scientific investigation of religion taboo, and the actual “enchanting” effect that religion has on some people’s lives. It is the first spell that he seeks to break, and he spends quite a number of pages discussing whether or not it is possible to break the first spell without breaking the second. Then he goes on to spend the second chapter trying to convince us (religious people, that is) to read a book that we’ve already invested ourselves in. This continues into the third chapter, and by then I was getting very frustrated. I wanted to scream, “I’m reading the book already, would you stop trying to convince me to read it!” I understand that a foundation is necessary if you want to build something, but I don’t think that foundation should be fifty pages long. It just really aggravated me to have to wade through the back-and-forth, the snide potshots at close-minded religious people, etc.

Speaking of snide potshots, it might be difficult for readers who consider themselves religious individuals to cut through the patronizing attitude that permeates Dennett’s writing, especially at the beginning. Dennett looks down on the poor, misguided religious folk and he makes no attempt to hide this disdain. The original draft of this entry had a thousand-word rant on one particular passage, but ultimately I decided it was tangential and cut it out. Suffice it to say that the attitude got better as the book goes on, either because Dennett let up a little or because I got used to it—not sure which.

On the positive side, there are two summarizations at the end of each chapter: a summary of the chapter that we just finished reading and a summary of what is to come in the next chapter. I appreciated these summaries as a chance to both collect my thoughts and a way of connecting the narrative between chapters. I think they are also evidence that Dennett intended this book not only for academic readers but for the general public as well.

The good news is that the book finally hits its stride in Chapter Three. But we can’t skip entirely over the first two chapters. For one, they contain his definition of religion (which is obviously very important to the book): “social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” This jumped off the page at me because Dennett is basically discounting non-theistic religions. He says that this is a working definition, a place to start from and not necessarily a finishing point, but he never develops it. And it becomes obvious why the more you read—what Dennett is really talking about in this book is belief in God (and belief in belief in God, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves). It is important to keep this definition of religion in mind, because later on “religion” is replaced by “belief in God” for long stretches at a time.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, we can concentrate on Dennett’s actual argument. There’s no way I’m going to be able to cover everything in my notes (I’m still on the first page at this point), so I’m going to try to hit the important points and concentrate on the parts that meant something to me. This should provide you with a basic idea of what Dennett has to say, but it is by no means exhaustive, and there is the possibility that I may misrepresent some of his points in my quest for brevity.

Although Dennett continues to try to convince us to read the book throughout Chapter Three, I feel this is where we finally start getting into his actual argument. He introduces the basic principle of biological economy, summarized in the Latin phrase “cui bono?” (meaning “who benefits?”). As Dennett puts it, “every bargain in nature has its rationale” (63), meaning that every evolutionary development has a reason. For example, it is quite an investment for a plant to produce sweet fruit, but the payoff comes when an animal eats the fruit and later deposits the seeds encased in fertilizer. This idea of cui bono is a major concept that is referred to continuously throughout Breaking the Spell.

Another major concept is that of agents and intentionality, introduced in Chapter Four, entitled “The Roots of Religion.” This gets into Dennett’s theory of the mind, which he refers to as the “intentional stance.” The intentional stance is the recognition or belief that there are other agents in the world besides the self, and that these agents will act according to their needs and desires. This is first-order intentionality. Second-order intentionality involves beliefs about beliefs, third-order intentionality involves beliefs about beliefs about beliefs, and so on. All animals, even those we would not necessarily consider “thinking” animals, adopt the intentional stance. For example, a clam that closes at the slightest vibration does so because it attributes that vibration to a hostile agent. When we overreact to stimuli—say, get a fright during the night when we wake up and see a shirt hanging on the closet door, to take a common childhood example—this is our “hyperactive agent detection device” in action. In other words, we tend to see agents where there are none.

In Chapter Five, Dennett combines this “hyperactive agent-seeking bias” with the human tendency to pick out and remember certain combinations of information as opposed to others. There has always been too much information vying for our attention, so it is only natural that we would develop a system for filtering out the information that is not useful to us. If we combine these two elements—our desire to seek agents in every action and our fondness for information that stands out—we get the foundations for superstitions. When something happens, the brain immediately begins to search for explanations, and some of the more fantastic explanations stick. Take dragons, for example (this is one of my own, not taken from the book). Let’s imagine that one day, quite some time ago, a man went into the mountains and saw smoke pouring from a fissure in the ground. Where there is smoke, there is fire, and what could produce fire? How about a fearsome creature that lives deep in the mountains and spouts fire and smoke? This is only one of many possible hypotheses, but it captured the imagination of humans for ages—and still does (at least in the West—Asian dragons don’t breathe fire).

But this is superstition, not religion, because it lacks, among other things, belief. Religion began when human beings first posited the existence of an agent that has access to all strategic information (information in which they have an interest), and this later developed into an omniscient deity. The social systems of religion developed as a means to get this information from these supernatural agents. Divination is one way of getting this information. Shamanism and healing rituals attempt to tap into the power of the deities to cure the sick.

Dennett is an atheist, so he approaches religion as a mystery to be solved: how can religion exist if there is no supernatural agent? In terms of the evolutionary economy, what pays for religion? Two possibilities are the examples of divination and shamanism mentioned above. In the former, the idea that a supernatural agent knows better than we do can enable people to make decisions when they otherwise might be paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing. In the latter, when a human being has hope that he or she will ultimately get well, the body will pull out all the stops and use everything at its disposal to heal itself. Neither of these require the existence of a deity or deities, they simple require the existence of a belief in a deity or deities—that is, religion.

What we have described here is basically folk religion, and in Chapter Six, Dennett discusses “The Evolution of Stewardship”—that is, the development of folk religion into organized religion. To summarize the discussion here, our ancestors simply took common lore for granted and didn’t think of themselves as practicing a religion at all. After all, with no doubt in what was believed, there was no need to articulate a faith, per se. When doubt is introduced, veils are erected to obscure the truth behind mystery, and these veils are guarded by stewards. There is much more to this argument, of course, including a discussion of how the emergence of agriculture triggered the transition from folk to organized religion, but the important point to be gleaned from this chapter is that organized religions have stewards. So is organized religion merely a means of control devised by those in power, or is there more to it?

Dennett, of course, believes there is more to it (otherwise the book would have ended right there). In Chapter Seven, he notes that humans are capable of considering not only their own individual interests but also the interests of a group. Religion, in addition to the individual benefits mentioned above (that is, making individuals confident, effective agents), also fosters group effectiveness. But are these benefits enough to explain the advent and vitality of religion? Dennett briefly discusses “group selection,” which is basically naturally selection where the group takes precedence over the individual, as one option for the emergence of religion.

There is another theory, though, that Dennett believes accounts for the emergence of religion: differential meme replication. Memes can be harmful parasites, but they can also be neutral or even beneficial. Religion as a meme—that is, an idea transmitted from one mind to another—would eliminate the need for a rational designer. The meme theory also accounts for the willingness of most religious adherents to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of the religion, as it is ultimately the meme that benefits. The rewards that religions offer, whether they are real or not, serve to further the ends of the religion by commanding loyalty and sacrifice.

Chapter Eight is entitled “Belief in Belief,” and is a central point in the book. Essentially, Dennett draws a distinction between belief in God and a belief in a belief in God. The difference is that people who believe in God are certain that God exists, while those who believe in a belief in God are merely focused on a certain state of mind. He comments that an atheist may not believe in God, but he may believe in the mental state of belief in God and think that “it would be a wonderful state of mind to be in, if only that could be arranged” (221). The reason this distinction is important is that belief in God requires dealing with the question of God’s existence (a question that Dennett admits will get us nowhere), whereas belief in a belief in God does not—it only deals with what people think about God. Because Dennett equates religion with “belief in God,” belief in belief in God boils down to belief in religion, and that’s really what the rest of the book discusses.

Chapter Nine is the first chapter in the third part of the book, “Religion Today.” Here he notes that people believe in religion (belief in God) in order to live better lives. But is this the best way of doing this? In other words, is religion the best path to morality? While religion may have many positive effects, it also has negative effects, such as radicalism. Dennett not only focused on Muslim terrorists, but also on Christian terrorists, such as those who bomb abortion clinics or resort to other violent methods to get their message across. He puts the difference between a belief in religion and a belief in evolution this way: “We who love evolution do not honor those whose love of evolution prevents them from thinking clearly and rationally” (268).

As far as the positive effects of religion are concerned, he refers back to the placebo effect of belief in religion (first mentioned in the early discussion of shamanism). The efficacy of religion does not hinge on the truth of the religious beliefs. In other words, it does not matter if God really exists and does the things he is said to do. All we need to do is believe in him and nature takes care of the rest. Dennett calls for anyone making claims about the health benefits of religion to prove these claims scientifically or to remain silent.

Chapter Ten continues to deal with the problems mentioned in Chapter Nine, and personally I found this chapter the most thought-provoking. Religion supports morality through a system of rewards and punishments, but Dennett argues that this system is no longer necessary now that we have the rule of law. And while religion may provide a motivation for moral living, it also provides a moral justification for violence. Religion, in effect, gives some people a “license to kill” because they believe they have the moral high ground. As I read this part, it struck me that this moral justification is often used in war time to demonize the enemy and either ease soldiers’ consciences about killing them or encourage them to forget their consciences entirely. Religion is capable of doing the same thing, but on a larger scale—everyone not part of the religion is the enemy.

This is a somewhat distorted yet unfortunately common view of religion, and it is the view that radicals subscribe to. But even moderates have to deal with what Dennett calls the “hypocrisy trap” of religion. That is, either we believe that most of the world is deluded but are afraid to say so, or we believe that our own tradition is deluded but are afraid to say so. The only way to be a true moderate is to “loosen your grip on the absolutes that are apparently one of the main attractions of many religious creeds” (293). It is those who cling blindly to these absolutes who are the problem:

...those who have an unquestioning faith in the correctness of the moral teachings of their religion are a problem: if they themselves haven’t conscientiously considered, on their own, whether their pastors or priests or rabbis or imams are worthy of this delegated authority over their own lives, then they are in fact taking a personally immoral stand. 295

I quote this passage directly because it really got me thinking, and because Dennett himself, in the very next sentence, calls it “perhaps the most shocking implication of my inquiry.” This unquestioning faith makes it impossible for these people to engage in dialogue with people outside their religion, and sometimes even with moderates in their own religion. Dennett calls on “reasonable adherents of all faiths to find the courage and stamina to reverse the tradition that honors helpless love of God—in any tradition” (298). Ultimately, when moderates remain silent about the actions of fanatics, they are being used by those fanatics to provide mainstream justification for those actions.

Toward the end of Chapter Ten, Dennett answers the question he asked earlier: is religion the best way to lead a moral life? The answer is no, as Dennett finds no reason why a disbelief in God should make someone less moral. He notes that there are plenty of hypocrites among those who call themselves “spiritual,” but more importantly, there are many who believe that taking care of their own spiritual needs is enough to live a moral life, and they give no thought to others. Dennett believes that people want to do good, and that they will do good whether they adhere to a certain religion or not. (The fundamental Christian’s first response to this will likely be to retort that human nature is evil, but keep in mind that this supports Dennett’s theory—by labeling human nature as evil, religion ensures that any adherent who wants to do good will remain in the religion, thus perpetuating the meme.)

The final chapter is titled “Now What Do We Do?” Here Dennett turns to a practical application of his theory, and I find many of his ideas rather interesting. He summarizes his theory as “religion evolved, but it doesn’t have to be good for us in order to evolve” (309). That is, it only has to be good for itself to perpetuate as a meme. But he admits that this theory is still not established, and he urges more detailed research on the subject of religion. Yet researching religion is a tricky business, with those researching “from the inside” wary of those researching “from the outside.” Dennett’s solution: a religious studies entrance exam, designed by researchers within the given religious tradition. Clergy of this religion would have to take this exam, of course, to verify that it is realistic. The idea struck me as humorous at first, and I’m not sure if Dennett is actually seriously proposing such an exam or just calling the hands of those who would resist scientific investigation.

Among the things that he suggests need more research is the effect of a religious upbringing on children, which he admits will be difficult because of the risks involved with using children as test subjects. He addresses the natural protectiveness we feel when it comes to educating our children, but he also notes that parents do not own their children like slaves. His solution to this problem: “Let’s get more education about religion in our schools, not less” (327). He feels that parents should be allowed to teach their children anything they want, except for “anything that is likely to close their minds 1. through fear or hatred or 2. by disabling them from inquiry...” (328).

He also comes back to the issue of religious fanaticism, and he notes that one unchanging aspect of religious terrorism is that it attracts young men by offering them a brighter future. Unless benign alternatives in this quest for meaning in life are provided, toxic religions will always be a problem. He goes on to discuss other pressing issues, such as disputes over holy soil, and ends with this: “My central policy recommendation is that we gently, firmly educate the people of the world, so that they can make truly informed decisions about their lives.” Chapter Eleven does tend to jump around a bit as Dennett ties all the threads together and moves into the realm of practical application, but all of his ideas are thought-provoking (if not entirely novel).

This is by no means an exhaustive summary of the book, just a collection of the points that I thought were most important. I am in no position to argue with most of them, although there are a few points that I would like to address.

As I mentioned at the start, the book was somewhat of a chore in the very beginning, but the further I got the more engrossed I became. By the time I got to the chapter on “Belief in Belief” (Chapter Eight), Dennett had me really thinking. In distinguishing between belief in science and belief in religion, he notes that those who believe in science act on those beliefs—they build airplanes and other devices that rely on the principles of science to work, they in fact stake their very lives on the fact that these scientific principles are true. Those who profess belief in religion, though, usually don’t act on those beliefs: “People who give away all their belongings and climb to some mountaintop in anticipation of the imminent End of the World don’t just believe in belief in God, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, when it comes to religious convictions” (234).

I must admit that I resent this simplified and stereotyped depiction of acting on one’s belief, but there is truth in what Dennett says. I put my life in the hands of science every time I get into my car, but would I trust my life to what I believe about God. In short, do I act on what I say I believe? This is a sobering question, and one I am tempted to pass over, but I will not. The truth is that I do not live in perfect accordance with what I say I believe. I am a hypocrite. Jesus tells us to love, but there are people I have a very difficult time loving. If I were to write a list of all the ways my life conflicts with what I say I believe, I’d probably wear a dozen pencils down to nothing. Does this mean I only belief in belief in God? Is it possible that I don’t really believe that God exists?

My answer to this question would probably not satisfy Dennett, but it satisfies me, and that is ultimately the point here. I do believe in God, and I do believe that there is a right way to live, but I am weak and often fail to live up to my ideals. You don’t have to be a Christian to think this way, either. Just about every human being knows how difficult it is to live up to ideals, and even those who are thought by others to live ideal lives would be the first to tell you that they don’t. That is not false humility, it is true humility: recognizing that no matter how close to an ideal we may come, we will always fall a little short.

Yes, this does play into Dennett’s meme theory—by telling us that we are too weak to live morally on our own, religion guarantees that we will stay within the tradition. But simply because this idea contributes to the meme’s fitness does not mean it is also not true. And this leads me to something else I want to discuss: Dennett’s claim that the goal of religion is to help people live moral lives. I’m not sure if I would put it this way. For me, my religion—my relationship with God—exists not because I want to live a moral life, but because I know I am incapable of living a perfectly moral life. It’s just not going to happen in this lifetime. I will always fall a little short, and because of that I need the forgiveness that Christ guaranteed by dying for my sins. Yes, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will help us lead moral lives, but it also recognizes that we will fail at times. Does this failure to lead a moral life mean a failure of religion? Only if we allow that failure to consume us. I believe that it is in the triumph over failure—the triumph we achieve through Christ’s blood, not through our own moral actions—that religion truly manifests itself.

There is more I could say on this subject, but I will leave it for now, as there is more to say on other subjects. One thing that bothered me about the book was Dennett’s insistence on scientific verification of religious claims. I can understand why he, as a scientist, would seek such verification. But is it even possible to scientifically verify religious claims? Let us take the example of the health benefits that Dennett mentions. According to Dennett, most of the health benefits of religion can be attributed to the placebo effect. But there is one thing that cannot, and this is the one thing that could be tested scientifically: intercessory prayer. The placebo effect is not at work here, since the individuals receiving the benefit are not the ones engaging in belief.

Or are they? Unless the experiment is completely blind (that is, the prayer subjects are completely unaware that they are being prayed for), belief would still come into play. The prayer subjects themselves might not be praying, but, knowing that they are being prayed for, they would still believe. Let us say that we did somehow manage to conduct a blind experiment—let’s say we told a bunch of cancer patients that we were conducting an entirely different experiment, and then we had people pray for them without their knowledge. Even then, though, what would this prove? Any Christian will tell you that God always answers prayer—but that his answer is sometimes “no” or “wait.” Let’s say I pray for God to grant me a large house on a hill with crocodiles dressed in tuxedos to serve me drinks. If God does not grant my request, does this mean prayer does not work? In the same way (albeit less flippantly), if I pray for someone who is ill to recover and they do not, does this mean that intercessory prayer does not work?

I think it is misguided to attempt to verify religious principles in a sterile scientific environment. I am all for a scientific understanding of religion, but I do not think you can scientifically verify religion any more than you can religiously verify science. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive, and they are not necessarily at odds with each other. Science and religion can coexist peacefully, and there is no need for one to be justified in terms of the other. I am careful to phrase this so that it goes both ways, because I know that some people call for a religious justification of science. I do not believe this is necessary—the two fields are just two different ways of looking at different aspects of the world we live in.

In other cases, though, I think Dennett hits the nail right on the head, in particular with his call for moderates to deal with fanatics and radicals within their traditions. He is right when he says that moderates are being used if they remain silent about the actions of fanatics. Even though few may read this, I would thus like to take this opportunity to clarify where I stand. I believe that love is the single most important concept in the teachings of the Bible. Paul says that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). He puts love before even faith! Likewise, there is nothing that should come between us and our love for God and our fellow man (and the Bible says that if we do not love our fellow man, we cannot claim to love God—see 1 John 4:20). Bombing abortion clinics? This is not love, this is hatred. But Jesus raised a ruckus in the Temple, casting out the money changers, did he not? Yes, but that was God’s house. The money changers were there because the religious leaders allowed them to be there. Jesus was just doing a little house cleaning. You’ll notice in the Bible that Jesus never pulled his punches when dealing with the religious leaders, who claimed to know better, but he was infinitely compassionate when dealing with everyone else. So I say to the fanatics, where is your love? If love is not your motivation, you are not doing God’s work. End of story.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking part of the book for me, though, was a part I quoted in full above when discussing Chapter Ten. The question is not what we believe, but why we believe. Why do I believe what I believe? You will notice that I rely heavily on the Bible to back up my points. Why do I believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Because my religious leaders tell me it is? Then where do they get their authority? From the Bible, of course. Thus this would be circular reasoning.

There was a time in my life where I struggled with what I believed. Like many who are raised in Christian households, I went through a period of doubt and questioning when I left my family and went away to university. For several years I hid from my faith. I did not attend church, I did not pray, I did not do any of the things that are associated with my faith. But the seeds of faith were still inside me. I just needed to work them out for myself, not rely on what my parents and elders had taught me when I was young. Fortunately, my parents taught me in a way that would get Dennett’s approval—they taught me neither fear nor hatred, and they always taught me to question and to discover things for myself.

When asked to define faith, most Christians will quote Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This is the New International Version translation of the verse. Many are also familiar with the King James Version: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” This was the version I learned when I was young, and I always struggled with it. The “substance of things hoped for?” What does that mean? Through the years, though, I came to my own understanding of faith, and it more or less echoes the NIV translation of the verse. Even during the darkest nights, I knew that God was there, and that he was waiting for me to come back. I was certain. I had faith.

But why do I believe God is there? Where did this faith come from? Why do I trust in the Bible as the Word of God? My answer is that I trust in the Bible because it has worked for me. I know that Dennett does not allow personal, non-testable experience in the arena of scientific discourse, but he asked me personally why I believe, did he not? So this is my answer: because it works for me. It has never failed me, even thought I might at times fail God.

When I was young, there was a boy named Andrew who was my nemesis. We did not get along well at all, and he tormented me at every opportunity. I knew he didn’t like me, but I did not know why. When I read in the Bible that “a gift given in secret soothes anger” (Proverbs 21:14), I decided to put it into practice. I bought one of those old hand-held mechanical games—something that I would have liked to receive as a present—wrapped it up, and left it on his desk at school with no note. Someone must have seen me do it, though, because he later came up to me and asked me if I had given him the game. I said yes, and he asked me why, so I told him. He didn’t say anything else, but after that we were no longer enemies.

A cute story, is it not? Some of you may even be chuckling at the innocence of youth. But as I grew older I discovered that this innocence, this child-like faith, actually worked. Whenever I acted on my faith, I was not disappointed. But if I acted on my own emotions, I was usually disappointed. In high school I had another nemesis, Jeff. I hated Jeff with a passion, and I had forgotten what I learned when I was young. The world was not as simple as it had been with Andrew. Back then, even your worst enemy would come to your birthday party. But in high school, things were not black and white, they were gray. Jeff was incorrigible, what we called a “burnout.” He belonged to that clan of students who would not go to university and end up flipping burgers at the local McDonald’s. Or, in Jeff’s case, they would storm out of school one day after an argument with a teacher, hop in their cars, speed off down the road, and wrap themselves around a tree.

It made me sick to my stomach to hear people talk about how Jeff was such a nice boy, how it was such a tragedy that his life was cut short. Tragedy? I was glad he was dead. He made my life miserable, and now that he was gone I was supposed to mourn him? I don’t think so. I said these words to my girlfriend and she slapped me in the face—the only time I’ve ever been slapped by a girl, and I guess I deserved it. What had changed from Andrew to Jeff? I had grown up some, and I guess I thought that the simple truths of the Bible no longer applied to my increasingly complex life. When I look back on my memories of Andrew now I can smile, but locked away in the deepest place in my heart I still hold the bitterness of my hatred for Jeff. Jeff continued to torment me long after he was gone.

So maybe that shows how human I am. But it also shows me the difference between two mindsets, two views on life. One is a mindset of faith, one is a mindset of hatred. There are many other stories I could tell you that would illustrate how God has worked for me, but as Dennett said, these will not convince. They are, however, enough to convince me, and that is the point of this exercise. Dennett’s central policy recommendation, as I quoted above, is to educate people so that they can make informed choices. I may not be the most educated person in the world, but while reading this book I have thought long and hard about what I believed in and why.

This is undoubtedly not the effect that Dennett hoped his book would have on me. He probably held out some small hope that I would come to see the error of my ways and abandon my faith for a more practical view of the world. If anything, though, it has forced me to think about my faith and made it stronger. This is something I believe every Christian should do—and if you do not, then you are being dishonest and, yes, even immoral. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Perhaps this answer is not good enough to convince others, but it is sufficient for me.

I am very glad I took the time to read this book, and I want to again thank David for sending it to me. Hopefully my comments will be appreciated by those with an interest in the subject.

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