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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skeptics, True Believers, and for those in between as well, May 25, 2004
This review is from: Skeptics and True Believers (Paperback)
Chet Raymo grew up Catholic, as did I. Through his life of studying science, he valued the scientific search for Truth. That brought him, as many scientists, to face the apparent dichotomy between science and religion.
Raymo interestingly takes that "science vs. religion" apart, and reconstructs it as "Skeptics vs. True Believers", and in doing so, examines the human aspect of the conflict as well as the more ubiquitous aspects. The whole creation vs. evolution argument has gotten worn out, and it's replacement, "intelligent design" vs. evolution has gotten equally abused. Raymo makes his case briefly (thankfully), and goes on to face *why* people seem to have the need to be either Skeptical (doubtful despite evidence) or True Believers (faithful in spite of contrary evidence).
Raymo came to what I call a "full basket" moment with his Catholicism -- either he had to buy the full basket, accept and believe it all, or he could believe none of it. For other people, readily acknowledged by Raymo, the full basket moment is not an all-or-nothing. For some of us, it is, instead, a turning point. This is why I mention "those in between" in the title of this review.
For those of us who cringe at the negative connotations of the "Skeptic" title, and cringe equally at the naivete implied in "True Believers"; for those of us who don't buy the full basket of the beliefs of our church and religion, but still find great value in that religion -- this is a valid place to be. Raymo does not ignore that, and that is specifically the human aspect of the dichotomy that mixes the black and white to live in the gray area. Perhaps "avoids" rather than "mixes".
A Raymo very eloquently discusses, humanity is the only earthly life that is brutally, painfully aware of its mortality. Religion is the primary psychological force dealing with (or avoiding?) that mortality, promising life after death, through death, through reincarnation. Religion is a home for morality instruction, for rituals, for change-of-life ceremonies and celebrations. Religion has a tribal aspect, a belonging that is much needed by the human psyche, which no amount of skepticism, science, or knowledge of facts can replace.
While the title and much of the book is set up to explore the dichotomy, pinning one side *against* the other, it does just as much, perhaps unintentionally or perhaps not, blending the two sides together into a place where one can be comfortable with both. This book might be written as Raymo's attempt to find that place for himself.
I give it five stars. Whether Raymo has found that place of balance for himself or not, his exploration of the topic is well written, interestingly prepared, and very thought provoking.
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