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Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?: A Professor and a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity Paperback – May 18, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; Third Printing edition (May 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830833773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830833771
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"I've overheard numerous conversations but none as captivating as this. Greg Graffin and Preston Jones disagree agreeably while discussing the things that matter most. I learned from both, grew in appreciation for the creative music of Bad Religion and reflected on how better to flesh out my faith in a pluralistic world. I hope all my friends accept their invitation to listen in. This is a book that needs to be not just read, but discussed." (Denis D. Haack, Director, Ransom Fellowship, Editor, Critique, and visiting instructor in practical theology, Covenant Seminary)

"In books that seek to commend the Christian faith, often the conversation is one-sided, lacking 'apologetic tension.' Not so with this new work edited by Preston Jones. In a dynamic conversation (actually an e-mail exchange) between Jones, the Christian history professor, and punk rocker Greg Graffin over matters of consequence, we see elements of Christian theism and scientific naturalism going head to head. I was drawn deeply into their intellectual volleys, their spiritual perspectives and their friendship. I also learned about books and issues that were new to me. This work is a model of civility on the part of both parties, and an enlightening one at that!" (David Naugle, professor of philosophy, Dallas Baptist University, and author of Worldview: The History of a Concept)

"A good spirited conversation can be very educational. It gives people the freedom to draw their own conclusions, which is usually more powerful than forcing one down the reader's throat. Preston Jones has 'authored' a great read simply by keeping the conversation true to what was 'said' via his e-mails with Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin. This collection of back-and-forth debate concerning the worldviews of a naturalist and a Christian is fascinating and as compelling as a suspense novel, as educational as a college course and as relational as a blog. Anyone young enough to love rock and roll and smart enough to know that the Christian faith needn't back down from any philosophy will appreciate the frankness found inside this book." (Doug Van Pelt, editor of HM Magazine, and author of Rock Stars on God)

From the Publisher

Features & Benefits

* Email discussion between a Christian history professor and a naturalist punk rocker with a Ph.D.

* Tackles cosmic questions about biology, suffering, destiny, morality and more

* Engages youth and students with "big ideas"

* Unique and compelling

* Models effective dialogue between people with differing worldviews

* Can be used as a text for philosophy, theology, apologetics or worldview courses

* Includes a study/discussion guide


More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Since the day that I started to read, I couldn't stop until finish it!
Gabriel Fonseca Alegre
Jones includes study questions, quotations and other bits of information throughout the book to help the reader go further with these discussions.
Amazon Customer
As both Graffin and Jones stated, "score keeping" misses the point of this book.
William M. Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What do you get when put a conservative university professor who happens to be a Christian in the same room with a punk rocker who happens to be an atheist? Trouble, you would expect.

Well the two may not have shared the same room, but thy have shared in a lot of correspondence, debating and discussing their worldviews. And trouble was not the outcome, but a spirited, intelligent and no-holds-barred exchange of ideas and beliefs.

Preston Jones, a history professor and committed Christian, had long enjoyed the music of Bad Religion, especially its lyrics. He eventually wrote to the band's front man and song writer, Greg Graffin. A lively correspondence ensued, and that exchange is the subject of this book.

The letters written by these two are frank, forthright and forceful. Their discussions are lively and vigorous, sometimes heated but always irenic. The respectful debate encountered here covers a wide range of topics, music included.

Graffin is not your run of the mill punk rocker. He has written a PhD in evolutionary biology, and his lyrics drip with deep reflections and careful thoughts. They express, of course, the mind of a sceptic. Graffin does not believe in God, and he is willing to face a world without God head on, with all that entails.

Yet despite his commitment to philosophical naturalism and his unbridled faith in science, he has questions, he is searching, and he is aware of his own limits. His songs are filled with thoughts about religion, life, meaning and purpose.

Jones, on the other hand, is a believer who offers many insights and explanations from his own Christian faith, but can appeal to other sources as well. Thus they discuss not just biblical matters, but literature, music, science, art and many other topics.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By S. Martin on July 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is rare to find a such balanced and informed discussion regarding religion. The participants pose thier arguments in a friendly manner, but they are both clearly well studied in their respective fields. I'm a Bad Religion fan, and thus am quite familiar with Greg Graffin's opinions. I find Preston Jones quite impressive, he's clearly a devout Christian, but not fundimentalist, and is refreshingly accepting of other ideas. This conversation would have been very different - if not impossible - if it were between Graffin and oh, say, Pat Robertson. What makes this book so engaging is the fact that both men were able to HEAR what the other was saying, then give an informed response without resorting to the name-calling and finger-pointing so prevalent on the cable news networks. This is the kind of debate this country needs.

I read this book at the same time as reading Graffin's PhD thesis, and together they've underscored the fact that my personal beliefs are much more in line with Graffin's than with Jones's. But, while I don't always understand Jones's opinions, I greatly respect him as a scholar and educator.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William M. Reynolds on January 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed reading this. I'm a big Bad Religion fan, and share many of the views expressed by Dr. Graffin. Many of the people in my life are very hardcore Christians and we frequently agree to disagree.

As both Graffin and Jones stated, "score keeping" misses the point of this book. It's fun to be a fly on the wall listening to two very intelligent men debate the topics. Again, as they both said some will declare a winner to the debate. If that makes 'em happy...so be it. Looking past winners and losers though, most will have an enlightening look at "the other side" of many issues that most are afraid to discuss.

In the end, Preston Jones didn't change my mind. I still believe what I believe. But I always enjoy stimulating thought from a different perspective.

Definately recommended for those with an open mind!
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Aranion on May 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is a terrific idea: an informal, ongoing exchange between someone holding a conservative Christian worldview and someone holding an atheistic, naturalistic worldview. Unfortunately, the end result is disappointing and leaves the reader with a sense of what *might* have happened rather than what *did.*

I will agree that both authors are to be lauded for their courtesy, patience and willingness to talk to each other - as well as share the conversations with us. I also agree that more open-ended dialogues like this would benefit many groups that hold opposing worldviews.

However, the dialogue as presented here seemed entirely one-sided. As noted, Graffin's PhD in evolutionary science was earned; he knows what he's talking about. Jones, much to my frustration, knew almost nothing about evolutionary science and almost as little about how science works overall. Jones presented many evangelical stereotypes and out-dated arguments and positions; Graffin was far more patient than I would have been (and I count myself as a Christian). Jones also doesn't seem spurred to do any research or follow up thinking once Graffin replies, which robs the reader of some potentially great critical analysis of both sides' positions.

Indeed, Jones comes off almost as an adoring teenage fan rather than an adult professor of history. Only when the topic lands squarely in Jones' bailiwick does his text grow some heft - and that is only for a few pages at most. Jones' grasp of Christian theology seems both basic and, well, infantile; he fails to seriously challenge Graffin on any points, instead generally taking a drubbing.
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