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A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists Paperback – April 16, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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About the Author

Mitch Stokes is a Fellow of Philosophy at New St. Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame under the direction of Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen. At Yale, he earned an M.A. in religion under the direction of Nicholas Wolterstorff. He also holds an M.S. in mechanical engineering and, prior to his philosophy career, worked for an international engineering firm where he earned five patents in aeroderivative gas turbine technology. He and his wife, Christine, have four children.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595554343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595554345
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By George P. Wood VINE VOICE on April 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Is belief in God irrational? Does science show that God doesn't exist? Does evil?

Over the past decade, New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Victor J. Stenger have answered these questions affirmatively. Their best-selling books have promoted the ideas that Christian faith is based on insufficient evidence; that in light of scientific advances, God is a "failed hypothesis"; and that suffering--when not actively caused by believers--disproves God's existence.

Stokes disagrees. Building on the philosophical insights of Alvin Plantinga (who blurbs the book), Stokes argues that theistic belief is rational, that science points to a designed universe (and where there's a design, there's a Designer), and that the problem of evil actually points to an incoherence in atheism (for how can there be moral law without a Moral Lawgiver?). One-sentence summaries don't do justice to the nuances of Stokes's arguments, but they point in the right general direction.

Although New Atheists can read this book with profit, its subtitle points to Stokes's intended readers, namely, Christians. He aims to help them "be a confident believer in an age of cranky atheists" (and I would've added, "atheist cranks"). It is less a book of apologetics, then, than a book about apologetics. And that's a shame, for the Christian book market is saturated with apologetics books written for Christians, and Stokes writes clearly and winsomely enough to directly engage nonbelieving readers. Nevertheless, the book is still worth reading, if only for its discussion of evidentialism.

In epistemology, evidentialism is the notion that, "to be rational, a belief must be supported by sufficient evidence.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In case you haven't noticed, there has been a barrage of belligerent atheists writing volumes of popular works attacking religion in general and Christianity in particular. And if you are not careful you can get the feeling that they have the upper hand right now. Their books sell well, they make the debate rounds (well, most of them do), and many of them have been guests on a plethora of TV and radio shows. They talk a great game and many have been lead down their primrose path.

It turns out, however, that only one or two layers beneath the overly confident surface lies a surfeit of good ideas. With a little guided and informed examination it is revealed that their bark does not measure up to their bite. Mitch Stokes' book is that examination, and is a very well-guided tour of the problems with the so-called new atheists.

But the book begins in an unexpected place. In fact, I'm not sure I have read a non-technical or popular level book on Christian thought or apologetics that begins where he does. You might expect a book like this to open by dealing with the major arguments for God's existence or the reliability of Scripture or even a blow-by-blow examination of the new atheist's arguments. Instead, Stokes begins with the issues of argument, reason, and knowledge in the first place. Specifically he uses the epistemological work of Alvin Plantinga to argue against the evidentialism, Enlightenment rationalism, and scientific provincialism inherent (and necessary) to the work of the new atheists. In essence, he pulls the rug out from underneath their entire scheme.

From there Stokes deals with what are probably the two most popular and potent attacks on the faith - the assertion that science has `disproved God' and the problem of evil.
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Format: Kindle Edition
A Shot of Faith to the Head: Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists is a 2012 philosophy-based Christian apologetic by Mitch Stokes, a philosophy professor with an engineering background. It is largely based on the philosophy of Alvin Plantinga, and is intended to help Christians hold their own in discussions with atheists.

The book is divided into three sections, each one addressing a different argument for atheism: that belief in God is irrational, that science has shown that God doesn't exist, and that the existence of evil in the world shows that God doesn't exist.

One of Stokes's central tasks here is deconstructing evidentialism - the argument that any belief must be supported by sufficient evidence to be rational, and which is used to criticize belief in God. This is probably the highlight of the book. In fact, Stokes generally does an excellent job of picking apart atheistic arguments. He doesn't do near as good a job, however, on his pro-Christian arguments, which are often too cursory. That this book was put together solely with Christians in mind makes this understandable (Stokes explicitly assumes a Christian worldview on the part of the reader), but it also means that this isn't really a book you can hand to your atheist friend to read.

While he covers a wide range of atheist scientists and philosophers in his discussions, Stokes leans too heavily on Plantinga for his pro-Christian arguments. A Shot of Faith to the Head thusly serves well enough as an introduction to Plantinga, but it would have been nice to get some other perspectives. However, Plantinga is always Stokes's go-to guy.
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