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Meaning and Mystery: What It Means To Believe in God Paperback – January 11, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1405193443 ISBN-10: 1405193441 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405193441
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405193443
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"With these minor criticisms in mind, Holley's work should be commended for its unique and provocative approach of defending religious belief in the age of modernity which, at the same time, defends naturalism and atheism. He has revealed to us that one need not be legitimized at the expense of the other." (International Journal For Philosophy of Religion, 8 January 2011)

"Holley makes strong but subtle arguments for a transcendent agent conception of God, and the need for this image for a coherent morality, the value of revelation-bearing traditions, and the priority of practice for discovering belief." (CHOICE, September 2010)"The question of the existence of God has been part of the philosophical debate ...with arguments advanced for and against it. In this heartfelt ... argument for God’s existence, the author studies the subject from every perspective. Echoes of ancient thinkers as well as more contemporary observers of the religious scene are well represented herein. Holley is clearly well versed in the arguments on both sides of the question. And he shows some insight into those who find belief in God to be a thing devoutly to be avoided even while espousing belief as part of his own life. In the end, Holley chooses faith over doubt and offers guidelines for those seeking an experience with the divine. His observations are well worth reading." (Publishers Weekly, January 2010)

Review

"This book achieves something very difficult: it provides a fresh and innovative way of looking at the age-old questions about religious faith that philosophers have argued about for centuries. Written in a clear and engaging style, Holley shows the role 'life-orienting stories' play for both believers and atheists, and, without dogmatism or minimizing difficulties, he shows how religious faith might be possible in the contemporary world."
C. Stephen Evans, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University

"The epistemic bearing of all-encompassing narratives on religious belief and disbelief has been largely neglected by philosophers in the English speaking world. Holley's lucid and well-written book is a welcome corrective."
William J. Wainwright, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Ebersole on February 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Instead of reducing faith to a pathology, David Holley's book Meaning and Mystery explains, through rigorous research and accessible prose, why human beings need a life-orienting story - a guiding script (primarily written with the ink of faith) - to experience our lives in a fulfilling way. The book is timely for our disenchanted age. Long ago, Modernism boldly dragged God into the court-room, examined and cross-examined him into a fine powder, then left us with a Winter of Facts. Holley has a keen understanding of this historical phenomenon, but his book is in no way a one-dimensional apology for faith, but instead reminds us that without a life-orienting story, we perhaps choose a more dubious path. The book is a rare achievement because it transcends the fog of the culture wars and treats the individual reader in the most compassionate way possible: by addressing her often bewildered interior life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Ballard on January 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
David Holley has written one of the most important books in recent years. I was going to say 'one of the most important books on the topic in years' but since the topic is of first importance, the larger claim is warranted. What is so important about the book? First and perhaps most crucially, Holley distinguishes the third-person and theoreticsl metaphysical question of God's existence and the practical question of whether a particular religous tradition, with its more detailed and personal conception of God, its laws and its ethics, provides the best life-orienting story-line. Although not without value, much of the history of classical philosophy of religion and apologetics has erroneously treated the question in the third-person mode. So the book is of the greatest value as a corrective to thinkers of that tradition. But Holley is also constructing an alternative approach which evokes Jamesian pragmatism, Kierkegaardian fideism and Pascal's wager, but never falls into their excesses. This is another remarkable aspect of the book: after decades of thought and experience in the matter, Holley brings to bear an impressive knowledge of the contours of religious thought and many a sagacioua insight into their nature. Holley's analysis of what make good reasons for belief will be of great personal value for all those on a serious quest for a meaningful life-story.

Given the profundity of the subject and Holley's uniquely impressive contribution to it, I was surprised to find an earlier review focussed primarily on how much easier the book should have been. This was especially surprising since the print is no smaller than is typical for this kind of work, 220 pages is not longer than is typical, the writing is clear and accessible for the educated reader, suggested reading is typical of this genre, and an educated reader will be able to handle a nine-page introduction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Taylor on November 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really an excellent book -- I found it in the library by chance, and after reading it I had to have it on my shelf. Holley is writing about a debate as old as time, today framed as "religion versus science" but really coming down to the fundamental question: "Do I believe in a higher power, or not?"

I've read a number of books by contemporary Christian writers on this same question (C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and Timothy Keller come to mind), as well as books written explicitly in opposition (Richard Dawkins is the most outspoken, though perhaps not the most persuasive) but none of them bring the thoughtful, intelligent exploration that the topic requires. He also, thankfully, avoids the incessant pop culture references and name-dropping that seem to plague contemporary Christian writing. Personally, Holley's book did more to bring me to faith than any of those overtly religious books. Holley is also a fine writer, and divides his book into discrete, self-contained chapters -- any of several chapters could be used to start discussion in a book group or classroom.

This is a book you can lend to an agnostic or atheist friend without feeling like you're trying to force something onto them. Rather than trying to be the last word, "Meaning and Mystery" opens a discussion that will never really be closed, at least not this side of eternity.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RICHARD E. CREEL on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Holley's Meaning & Mystery is, in my judgment, a watershed book. It explains worldviews (including naturalistic worldviews as well as religious worldviews) as "life-orienting stories" intended to help us make sense of our lives and live them meaningfully. This integration of meaning, outlook, and value is a practical enterprise. Choosing between life-orienting stories should be understood not as an objective decision-making process; objective data cannot enable us to choose between religious stories and non-religious stories or between the various denominations of religious and non-religious stories. Too many people think they must choose their worldview on a theoretical, evidential basis, but theory and public evidence can only take us so far. Ultimately we must make an individual, practical decision, a decision of the heart, as to which life-orienting story best enables us to live with intellectual, emotional, and spiritual integrity and uplift. And such stories include not only a way of understanding things but also a way of life that includes a community and practices that enable us to experience and live the uniqueness of the story chosen. I wish I had had this way of understanding worldviews available to myself when I was young, and I highly recommend it for students of world religions and philosophy of religion.
Richard Creel, Philosophy & Religion
Professor Emeritus
Ithaca College, NY
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