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Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light Paperback – September 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College, a bastion of Evangelical education. She holds a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Iowa and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington. Trusting that "All Truth is God's Truth," Dr. Tarico committed to follow her spiritual questions wherever they might lead. Ultimately they led her away from Evangelicalism. Currently, Dr. Tarico writes for the Huffington Post and ExChristian.net. She also hosts a television series in Seattle, Washington, on "Moral Politics." Not satisfied with spending all her energy critiquing Christianity, Dr. Tarico promotes interfaith dialogue and the shared values that link all humanity. She speaks to churches and secular groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief, and wisdom convergence. She also manages WisdomCommons.org, an interactive website that allows users to find and discuss information on values that are shared across secular and religious wisdom traditions.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Oracle Institute Press LLC (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977392937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977392933
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Valerie Tarico is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College, a bastion of Evangelical education. She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Washington. Trusting that "all truth is God's truth," Dr. Tarico committed to follow her spiritual questions wherever they might lead. Ultimately they led her away from Evangelicalism. She now speaks to modernist churches and secular groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief, and wisdom convergence.

In 2008, in response to a city-wide series of events in Seattle called Seeds of Compassion, Dr. Tarico founded WisdomCommons.org. The Wisdom Commons is an interactive website that allows users to find and discuss information on universal ethics, meaning values that are shared across secular and religious wisdom traditions. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and ExChristian.net where she sustains a lucid critique of fundamentalist religion in light of recent scholarship in the social sciences. Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.wordpress.com or followed at Twitter (ValerieTarico).

Valerie Tarico has this to say about what motivates her: "My life mission is to tend the well-being of the intricate web of creation that gave me birth and the well-being of my fellow humans within that web. Mostly of late I find myself caught in the challenge of religious fundamentalism -- how to give people the tools that let them move on. Since I see fundamentalism as, essentially, the worship of a communications technology -- the phenomenon of a book as a golden calf-- it is fascinating to explore what new technologies will do to help change the conversation and create alternatives."

In defiance of what she calls the bibliolatry of her youth, "ValerieT's Wisdom Page" at WisdomCommons.org includes her own version of the Ten Commandments, which she calls her Ten Aspirations:
1. Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.
2. Give more than you take.
3. Always keep in mind that you may be wrong.
4. Strive to value the suffering and joy of other beings like you value your own.
5. Care more about seeking truth than you care about being right.
6. Practice random acts of kindness.
7. Protect the sacred web of life, so that future generations may delight in the beauty and complexity into which you were born.
8. Take time to celebrate the gifts of life, love, and beauty.
9. Ask for help when you need it.
10. Live in love.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on October 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a revised version of Dr. Tarico's self-published book, "The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth."

As a former Christian with a Ph.D in Psychology this is an admirable book for her intended audience. It is not written for Christian apologists or scholars, knowledgeable skeptics or people well versed in their faith, although I myself learned a few things from it. It doesn't deal with the arguments for the existence of God, the problems with an incarnate God, or the resurrection of Jesus, which would've made this a much better book. Its focus is mainly on the Biblical teachings themselves and how they "counter both reason and morality." I liked the fact that she doesn't make any exaggerated claims about her book.

Her book is written in an easy to read conversational style and respectful tone from a unique female Psychologist's perspective that is rare among debunkers. It would be potentially doubt-producing if placed into the hands of the average Christian sitting in the pew. It's probably intended to be a resource for people who were teetering on the edge of Evangelicalism (either on their way in or way out) and who hadn't thought a whole lot the moral and rational implications about what evangelicals teach. As such, her book may be more dangerous to the Christian faith than many other books in the same genre, since she targets her audience so well.

She tells her personal story of her deconversion (which can be read over at debunbkingchristianity dot blogspot dot com), and which is similar in kind to our other stories there. She describes how she moved from "certainties to questions," which is a story similar in kind to many of us.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Dick_Burkhart on October 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Valerie Tarico's courageous book is both wrenching personal story and insightful analysis of the seduction / repulsion of Christian fundamentalism. Having heard her speak in person, I can attest to the eloquent inspiration of her unique combination of passion, compassion, maturity, and scholarship.

Those of us who grew up as skeptics outside the sphere of born-again Christianity are only too aware of the public face of right wing Christian fundamentalism. This is the "dark side" that trains the foot soldiers of imperial warfare and propaganda, that goes bananas over abortion and homosexuality, that retreats from scientific insights into "creationist" thickets of irrationality, that seeks influence by theocracy and corrupting alliance with wealthy elites rather than by democracy and social and economic justice. Yet Valerie also shows us the deep emotional responses that are given to those who can suspend their critical faculties to stay within the fold - responses like the promise of heaven, the threat of hell, the joy of devotion, and the security of simple rules and of forgiveness for their transgression.

The basic problem with Biblical literalism is that the Bible is full of contradictions, exemplified by Jesus' admonition to turn of the other cheek contrasted with the fury of Moses' genocidal massacre of the Canaanites. In fact, as Valerie testifies, it is the cognitive dissonance from reading the Bible that leads many fundamentalists to leave the fold. Those who stay end up favoring certain passages over others. Some find the universal values of the saints, while for others it is the power, blood, and greed of empire. The latter certainly contradicts what Jesus taught, but for fundamentalists it is belief, not right action, that leads to salvation.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Charly0 on December 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I feel this book should be read by all Christians. I also think that atheists, of which I am one, should read it just to know a little bit of 'how the religious side' thinks.
Neither side likes to read outside of their interest but this should be their exception.
It is well written and non-polemical.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Js on September 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I preface this review by saying I am a Christian (albeit a Liberal one). However that fact is completely independent of the fact that this book is dynamite.

Having being a lifelong Christian, I came upon this book several months ago (and wish I wrote this review sooner as my critique is no longer as 'fresh') when I was on teetering on the edge of unbelief and looking for that final push to over the cliff. Dr Tarico is brutally honest and her perspective as a former evangelical gives her the great advantage of presenting arguments from both sides, the counter, and the counter to the counter. I found the arguments mostly balanced (because you can almost never eliminate bias), well articulated and presented in a very consumable form - this is not a textbook for sure. I found myself pausing many times to take in the implications of previously held beliefs and seeing it from a different, social and more humanistic perspective. This book stirred up all kinds of emotions in me and I still find myself as I journey along thinking about many of the points she made, points I suspect will always ring in my head.

So why is a christian giving this book 5 stars? because it is a fantastic book that presents a compelling and thought-provoking case against christianity. Why is this christian still a christian after reading this book? because while she did a phenomenal job, I found her answers simply unsatisfactory, not enough to push me to the other side of the aisle. As a scientist myself I appreciate her systematic approach but I also know first hand the shortcomings. There is only so much you can explain away or attribute to 'brain activity' or 'latest-research' or 'inherent curiosity' etc. which she seemed to use as an explanation several times.
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