12.6.10

Belief



Selected and with introduction by: Francis S. Collins. Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. HarperOne, 2010. 323 pgs

Francis Collins is a noted, probably famous, American geneticist who lead the Human Genome Project. He is also the author of The Language of God: A Scientist Provides Evidence for Belief, a popular and important work on science and faith.

Now, in this book, Collins has gathered together a selection of readings on the reason for faith which range in period from ancient Greece until quite recently, and which includes authors such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and N.T. Wright (three of my favorites), as well as Plato, Madeleine L'Engle, Mother Teresa, and Mahatma Ghandi. An interesting collection to say the least.

Obviously, I cannot review this book like I would a normal one. No less than 32 authors are represented in this work, and the quality of both their writings and arguments, while largely within what I would characterize as 'excellent', still vary quite a bit. Instead, all I can do is review the collection as a whole.

And, as a whole, this collection is excellent. The breadth of perspectives offered on this one issue is staggering, and the variety of arguments and methods is quite powerful. Obviously not all of these readings will be to any one persons taste, and Collins acknowledges this in his intro. Merely in terms of difficulty of style, let alone logic or length, these writings go from the simple to the very complex. I think, though, that Collins has succeeded in including, within his selections, enough different articles that all readers will find some, if not quite a few, of these readings are interesting and enjoyable.

Thus, I recommend this book with one condition: you need to enjoy philosophical/theological readings on this topic. The vast majority of these readings are not stories about how individuals have come to faith, but rationally thought out arguments as to why faith is reasonable, proper, right, and good. Thus, it requires a certain mindset or taste in reading. Other than that, this book is an excellent place to start if you are interested in learning more about the reasons for faith. From this book, you can easily find numerous other good books to read on the topic (at least 32; one per author selection. In reality far more, as most of these authors have more than one book on similar or related subjects).

No comments: