3 out of 4 stars
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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an agnostic as "a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable." In The Conscience of An Agnostic, Robert K. Cooper, the author, explains why he is skeptical that there is a God somewhere who is responsible for our existence. He adds that he would much rather be a devout Christian but feels he cannot go against his conscience by lying to himself.
Mr. Cooper begins by explaining the different types of agnosticism and gives the meaning of religious faith. He informs readers that just as Christians have faith in the Resurrection, Communists also have faith in Marx's Theory of Value and that they are both substituting emotions for evidence. Giving references to some Bible verses and the random cruelty of life, the author argues that there's no rational basis for religious faith and God's existence.
Firstly, I must commend Mr. Cooper for his insights into the meaning of agnosticism and its different types. It makes the whole book and the author's stance easy to appreciate. I like how I can now differentiate between an atheist and an agnostic. More so, I find the Bible verses the author gives to corroborate his arguments thought-provoking. I think reading the book would be worth it if you have ever questioned the morality of some passages in the Bible.
What I like most about this book is its message for us to be objective. Most of us inherited our religious beliefs from our parents. While I am not opposing whatever we believe in that works for us, my take is that we should open our eyes and avoid being victims of religious manipulations. Through many of the author's points, readers would begin to ask questions about their religion and learn not to judge others who have different beliefs. One quote from the author that touched me is, "Someone who knew that I'm an agnostic once said to me: "How can you look at a smiling baby and not believe in God?" I responded: "How can you look at a baby that's dying of cancer and believe in God?" The conversation came to a rapid conclusion." Isn't that thought-provoking?
Nevertheless, I have mixed feelings about the long list of natural disasters, mass shootings, and murderous dictators featured in the book. While I enjoyed the history lessons and could understand the author's point, I found them to be too many and overwhelming. I think the list didn't need to be that long for readers to understand the author. Also, the author included assorted quotes and humorous tidbits from many individuals in the book, and some of them didn't fit the book's premise. One such example is, "The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is: "What does a woman want?" — Sigmund Freud." I don't understand how it relates to the subject in question.
I commend the author for using simple language throughout the title, as it makes his discussions easy to follow and understand. I also found only a few errors in the publication, showing that it was well edited. The positives I have discussed make the book an insightful piece. However, I am awarding it three out of four stars, considering the issues I noted above. Regardless, I still highly recommend this book to open-minded readers interested in getting intriguing answers to their questions about God's existence from an agnostic.
The Conscience of An Agnostic
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