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Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary Paperback – July 1, 2009
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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There is a lot of information in this book about Christianity, church history, theology, psychology and more. If you want a good overview of a critical examination of the Christian faith this book is it. Ken quotes some of the leading thinkers (from both sides) on a variety of topics. The bibliography is a great source for further reading.
This book echos my journey in many ways. Ken's trip took longer and he had much more at stake in walking away from his faith and career, but the experience was much much the same. He gives great insight into the process that Christians go through dealing with doubt and the realizations that examining the faith brings about. The questions, the quilt, the search for answers.. I can't speak for others, but Ken certainly captured my experience. I suspect others will relate also.
Finally, Ken is a really nice guys, at least that's what comes through the pages of his book. He has an amazing mix of humility, tenacity, honesty, persistence, wisdom and insight. He's the kinda of guy you'd like to take out to dinner, or have a a BBQ and just chat with.
The book is centered on the idea that there are gaping holes in the entire philosophy of Christianity that cannot be rectified by any rational thinker. Faith is belief in the absence of proof. And there is certainly no proof that Christians are going to heaven, or that their religion is the one correct interpretation of why we are all here on this globe. Read the book and you'll have a hard time concluding anything else.
If you are of that faith, and you are content, I suggest avoiding the book as it will plant numerous seeds of doubt in all but the weakest and most indoctrinated. I understand why human beings need something to believe in. However, for me, and for Kenneth Daniels, that something is not Christianity. Jesus may certainly have been a role model for many, but the faith attributed to him is full of inconsistencies and logical fallacies too gaping to ignore. Why I Believed points them all out in humble and reasoned tones. Excellent, excellent book.
My own theological views are similar to yours, but my own path was easier: I was raised a liberal Christian and gradually became an agnostic when I was a teenager. Now I am in my 50s. I still follow these issues because many people in my family are evangelicals. (If I recommended your book to them, they would probably just get angry. But I am taking this opportunity to recommend it to others.)
Another recent book by another ex-missionary that you and others may be interested in: _Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes_, by Daniel L. Everett.
The top line says I am reviewing the Paperback edition but actually I read and reviewed the Kindle edition. Amazon knows what I bought; I don't know why they got this wrong.
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and in several places 'principle' for 'principal'.
An essential read for any one with questions.