How To Be An Agnostic by Mark Vernon. (272 pages).
I really appreciate books written in a humble tone – exploring faith, and acknowledging the integrity of a variety of approaches; where the author gives his/her own perspective – and acknowledges that there are other ways of looking at things. And that s/he might be wrong. This is one of those books. [Francis Collins’ book, the Language of God, is another]
Mark Vernon was an Anglican priest. He describes his loss of faith and his enthusiastic embracing of atheism. Then he had a nervous breakdown. He has found agnosticism his way forward.
This is a book for people, like me, who are repelled by fundamentalism, be it religious or atheistic; who are repelled by those whose certainty (or insecurity) allows for no alternative viewpoint but see theirs as the only truth to ram down the throats of others.
Mark Vernon says that “the agnosticism that stirs me is not a sterile kind of uncertainty, which sits on the fence, or worse, can’t be bothered to articulate what it breezily doubts. The position I want to flesh out is engaged. It senses that what we don’t know is as thrilling as what we do know”.
For someone like me who affirms the apophatic way (finds the negative way positive!), I find Mark Vernon’s humble approach refreshing. Here is someone who has studied theology, science, and philosophy – and holds those three disciplines together.
Sometimes I found the book slower going – but maybe you will find those the very parts that you find gripping, and you might find the parts that I enjoyed, slow going. In any case, I highly recommend this book.
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