Faith Versus Fact: a good book but not really for me?

I just finished this book; I bought it when I bought several others I was interested in. Yes, I finished it. A decent review is here.

My biggest problem with this book: it reflects what I already think; it didn’t challenge me at all. I found myself wondering: “yes, it is well written but there is nothing surprising or challenging in it for me…” (I loved Professor Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True; it was outstanding and influenced how I see the world).

I even wondered: why is this book even needed? Then I read this.

What I have forgotten, and continue to forget, is that much of the rest of the world has no problem assigning “truth authority” to religious texts, church/religious dogma, etc.

So…I’d say that this is the book I wish I had read 30-35 years ago, back when I still had some vestiges of “faith” in me. I was growing serious doubts and many (most?) of them were outlined in this book.

If I had to sum the book up in a few paragraphs, I’d say:

1. Religious faith..or any religious system worthy of the word “faith” makes concrete claims about our world and universe and ..I’ll leave it to Mano Singham:

What is being asserted is that sophisticated theologians and philosophers, people who are much smarter than me, have studied these issues in great depth and have already explained everything and we need to go to them to find answers. God is so subtle that it is only through immersion in the works of these theologians and philosophers that we can obtain an understanding of him. Those of us who are not professional theologians and philosophers should shut up about our demands for dumb old evidence and not draw any conclusions on the question of god’s existence until we have devoted years to carefully studying the works of these theologians and philosophers.

This idea that god is so hard to grasp will no doubt come as news to the billions of religious believers who think they know god pretty well and have a good relationship with him without such study.

But we atheists are not talking about understanding the nature of god. We are not talking about the meaning of god. We are talking about whether god exists or not. This should surely be the prior question and is one that depends on evidence for an answer.

What atheists like me say to religious believers is simply the following: If the existence of your god has empirical consequences, then provide empirical evidence that supports your contention. If it has no empirical consequences whatsoever, then say so and we will not interfere with your theological and philosophical ruminations because we do not really care to speculate on the properties of what we consider to be a mythical entity.

(bold face is mine)

In other words, any “faith” worth pondering must leave some honest to goodness detectable signature. So where is it? If one doesn’t exist, then this conversation is over.

And no, the universe was not designed for us.