Wednesday, 30 September 2015


The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in GodThe Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in God by J L Schellenberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In many places and times, and for many people, God's existence has been rather less than a clear fact. According to the hiddenness argument, this is actually a reason to suppose that it is not a fact at all.

The hiddenness argument is a new argument for atheism that has come to prominence in philosophy over the past two decades. J. L. Schellenberg first developed the argument in 1993, and this book offers a short and vigorous statement of its central claims and ideas. Logically sharp but so clear that anyone can understand, the book addresses little-discussed issues such as why it took so long for hiddenness reasoning to emerge in philosophy, and how the hiddenness problem is distinct from the
problem of evil. It concludes with the fascinating thought that retiring the last of the personal gods might leave us nearer the beginning of religion than the end.

Though an atheist, Schellenberg writes sensitively and with a nuanced insider's grasp of the religious life. Pertinent aspects of his experience as a believer and as a nonbeliever, and of his own engagement with hiddenness issues, are included. Set in this personal context, and against an authoritative background on relevant logical, conceptual, and historical matters, The Hiddenness Argument's careful but provocative reasoning makes crystal clear just what this new argument is and why
it matters.

MY REVIEW: This is one of the freshest, innovative books from an atheist perspective I have read for a long time. Most atheist apologetics rehash the same tired (but no less important) arguments against theism with little new to say. But THE HIDDENNESS ARGUMENT offers a what seems to be a very compelling new argument agains the existence of God. In addition to the presentation of the argument itself, Schellenberg also discusses the nature of good reasoning and logic, providing this important background to readers who may not already know about it. While the book description above suggests that the argument is crystal clear, it will take some readers considerable effort to follow it. But it is worth it. There has also been a plethora of responses from theists critiquing the argument — which I am yet to follow up. If you are interested in the atheist/theist debate, and don’t mind a challenging, provocative read, then check out THE HIDDENNESS ARGUMENT.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

THE LOCKET by Adell Harvey

The Locket (Escape from Deseret, #1)The Locket by Adell Harvey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In the late 1850's, thousands of poverty-stricken Scandinavians were lured to America by missionaries of the Latter-day Saints with promises of great prosperity. Ingrid Thirkelsen’s marriage to Brother Rasmussen is as surprising to her as the hope he stirs within. Assigned to the Martin Party of immigrants, she sets out after him, encountering for the first time the horrors of polygamy, blood atonement and blind obedience to cult leaders. As she makes the handcart trek across the Plains and Rocky Mountains, a locket she has promised to deliver in Zion and her Ma's Bible are the only items that give her comfort and the strength to endure the unendurable.

MY REVIEW: The themes in the LOCKET are interesting. Particularly so, given the author has served as a counter-cult missionary in southeast Idaho to Mormons for over 20 years. Some of the former Mormons she has worked with gave her access to their families' genealogical records, diaries and other materials which led to the writing for this book. It's an enjoyable read and the author is clearly committed to accurately portraying the historical events within which her main character, Ingrid, is placed. The problem I have with the book is that it isn't horrifying enough. It seems to me that a lot of Christian writers, because they are writing for Christians (I assume), pull back from making their stories as raw and gritty as they need to be to come across as authentic. When I started the book, I was looking forward to a hard-hitting narrative. But, while it does describe some of the hardships of the immigrants and the cultic doctrines and practices of Mormonism in its early history, it reads too much like a "nice" romance more than anything else. As I read, I couldn't help feeling that the author wasn't quite hitting the right style for material that intends to enlighten the reader on the incredible suffering, particularly of women, during this period of history. So, if you are looking for a light read about some very serious issues, this piece historical fiction might be for you.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Philosophy: Key ThemesPhilosophy: Key Themes by Julian Baggini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Philosophy: Key Themes is a beginner's guide to understanding and critiquing philosophical arguments. Each chapter introduces one of the five major themes covered on philosophy courses: Theory of Knowledge, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind, and Political Philosophy. Baggini's approach combines explanation with summary while encouraging the reader to question the arguments and positions presented. This text can be used either independently of, or together with, its companion volume Philosophy: Key Texts.

MY REVIEW: Overall, an excellent introduction to thinking philosophically and the major arguments in the five themes covered. Easy to read and encourages the reader to think critically about ideas and their historical development.

The one disappointing chapter was that on the philosophy of religion. The tone was quite different in this chapter and focused on critiquing the beliefs of Christianity rather than taking a broad approach to the topic like other chapters. The philosophy of religion covers topics like '... alternative beliefs about God, the varieties of religious experience, the interplay between science and religion, the nature and scope of good and evil, and religious treatments of birth, history, and death. The field also includes the ethical implications of religious commitments, the relation between faith, reason, experience and tradition, concepts of the miraculous, the sacred revelation, mysticism, power, and salvation.' (Philosophy of Religion. (n.d.). Philosophy of Religion. Retrieved September 2, 2015, from However, Baggini doesn't convey this richness and depth in the chapter.

Apart from the chapter on philosophy of religion, this is a very satisfying read. Baggini is an excellent philosopher who is adept at conveying philosophical ideas in language that is accessible to the average educated person. Highly recommended.

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