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Preston Jones / Greg Graffin - Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? (Cover Artwork)

Preston Jones / Greg Graffin

Preston Jones / Greg Graffin: Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? (2006)
Bad Religion

Reviewer Rating: 3
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Contributed by: DarrenMcLeodDarrenMcLeod
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Naturalism: The view that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. Theism: Belief in the existence of a god or gods. [--American Heritage Dictionary] With these two definitions that appear before any of the dialogue, the reader has a fairly good idea of the debate.


Naturalism: The view that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.

Theism: Belief in the existence of a god or gods.
[--American Heritage Dictionary]

With these two definitions that appear before any of the dialogue, the reader has a fairly good idea of the debate that is about to be showcased in Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?: A Professor and a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity. The book features an email correspondence between Preston Jones, a history professor from a Christian college, and Greg Graffin, frontman of Bad Religion and holder of a Ph.D. in zoology, who wrote his dissertation on evolution, atheism, and naturalism.

The conversation was initiated by Jones, who sent a pretty standard fan email to Graffin, but as their correspondence continues it becomes less that of fan and hero and more that of two intelligent minds searching for a sort of universal truth. However, despite the fact that there are two intelligent minds conversing, it becomes apparent after a while that neither of these men specializes in theology, Graffin even admitting he was "never aware of a single story from the Good Book." And Jones, a history professor, is almost equally as oblivious to the study of naturalism. Interestingly enough, it is this lack of knowledge that, though one of the book's main pitfalls, is also in a strange way its strength. Throughout the book, you see two men who grow in their understanding of the other's viewpoint, and while neither are convinced at any point to change where they stand on the issues, both have clearly developed on a personal level from their communication. The book also gives great insight into Graffin's hectic schedule near the end of 2003, as the band was touring and preparing The Empire Strikes First.

One of the strongest aspects of the text is Jones' intuitive editing. The book is very easy to read, and as you are presented with both men referencing various philosophers and scholars, Jones highlights a quote from such references to help the reader follow along. These quotes come from both sides of the argument, and while Jones does seem to favour his own side slightly in the ratio of Christian to non-Christian references, there is still a good amount of paragraphs pulled from various naturalist thinkers, such as Richard Dawkins, Julian Huxley, and many others. There is even a study guide at the end of the book intended to help readers focus on some of the key themes that run through the text.

For those interested in Graffin's life and personal theories, or those who are looking for a good starting place to a few fundamentals of naturalism or Christianity, Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? does a decent job of both. The book doesn't offer any startling revelations, but it is well-designed and is an easy, interesting read.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
hubrisless (July 14, 2007)

That is really ignorant. How can you critique something without studying it? You can't critique Communism without studying Communism, which would include reading the Communist Manifesto. If you're criticizing Communism without studying it's doubtful you're saying anything intelligent about it. Likewise you can't really critique Christianity without studying it, without reading the Bible. And if you think otherwise you're just as closed minded and ignorant as the fundamentalist Christian everyone loves to hate.

Anonymous (May 18, 2007)

Graffin is just as qualified to comment on Christianity's effect on society as any person who has read the entire Bible. We do this all the time. How many people here have criticized Communism but have never read Marx's Communist Manifesto. We can argue against it because we have seen its effect on society. And that's what Graffin has done.

DarrenMcLeod (May 18, 2007)

the book never states that if Greg knew more stories, his viewpoint would be changed. Preston just says that as an educated man, Greg should have some knowledge of at least the Gospels because of the effect they've had on society, and just for the sake of knowing them.

Anonymous (May 16, 2007)

Can anyone give some examples of these stories from the Bible that if Greg knew about, his view points would suddenly change. I'm curious to know about these revelations as well.

DarrenMcLeod (May 6, 2007)

Why should he read the bible? It isn't fact or anything, it is a fictional book with stories.
Regardless of if you are a Christian or not, the Bible remains the most significant document in the creation of the Western world. Also, if you're going to be adamantly against something, it's usually good to understand what it is you're against.

would anyone not a bad religion fan even bother to read this
just read the blind watchmaker by the aforementioned richard dawkins

If someone is interested in Christianity and naturalism, it's an interesting read. It also gives two perspectives, whereas Dawkins would only give readers his own perspective.

miff (May 6, 2007)

would anyone not a bad religion fan even bother to read this
just read the blind watchmaker by the aforementioned richard dawkins

Anonymous (May 6, 2007)

Why should he read the bible? It isn't fact or anything, it is a fictional book with stories.

Anonymous (May 6, 2007)

I really enjoyed this book, but was somewhat disappointed to learn that Greg's never read the Gospels -- you think he'd at least have read them for academic reasons alone.

Anonymous (May 5, 2007)

So Graffin's argument is good, even though he has no knowledge of what he's arguing against, religion wise? Smooth, fanboy. Real smooth.

- strangenotes

Anonymous (May 5, 2007)

Actually, this wasn't a very good book in my opinion. I agree that I think it serves as a great introduction to naturalism or the fundamentalist movements, but it had too much of a christian tilt. Preston Jones always gets the last word in and he uses a lot of religion infected philosophic arguments to highlight his lack of knowledge of science...or philosophy. Greg's portions are good because he obviously puts forth ample evidence using philosphy and especially science. I would recommend his dissertation to anybody that would like to read a good follow-up or even skip this one.

Anonymous (May 5, 2007)

i won't get it, but an awesome review.

capitalist_pig (May 4, 2007)

Greg Graffin later conceded, "The abundance of fat chicks and web cams on the internet is proof of God's existence."

Scruffy (May 4, 2007)

Great review. I want to pick this up.

Anonymous (May 4, 2007)

sounds interesting... if i had any money, i'd be inclined to get this...

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