Saturday, May 31, 2014


C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant ProphetC. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister E. McGrath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent biography of C S Lewis. Brings lots of new insights to a complex man who has contributed so much to society - secular and religious. The best biographies, in my opinion, describe a picture of a person that is nuanced and fearless in presenting some of our "heroes" as genuine, flawed human beings. McGrath has done just this and, as a result, increases the respect we have for someone like Lewis. The book is well written and easy to read. The author tells the story in a way that moves along well and balances a discussion of bigger themes with the detail of Lewis's life. If you've read any of C S Lewis's writings you'll want to read this very comprehensive, respectful, and honest biography.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Do We Know? (Book)

How Do We Know?: An Introduction to EpistemologyHow Do We Know?: An Introduction to Epistemology by Mark W. Foreman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Description: What does it mean to know something? Can we have confidence in our knowledge? Epistemology, the study of knowledge, can often seem like a daunting subject. And yet few topics are more basic to human life. We are inquisitive creatures by nature, and the unending quest for truth leads us to raise difficult questions about the quest itself. What are the conditions, sources and limits of our knowledge? Do our beliefs need to be rationally justified? Can we have certainty? In this primer on epistemology, James Dew and Mark Foreman guide students through this discipline in philosophy. By asking basic questions and using clear, jargon-free language, they provide an entry into some of the most important issues in contemporary philosophy.

My Review: Well... I'm going against the trend to score this book high because, while it's a reasonable introduction to epistemology, the authors' self-confessed Christian bias is its greatest weakness. When the authors stay away from areas not particularly contentious from a Christian perspective (whatever that is, given the diversity of Christian perspectives) it's reasonably balanced in presenting various options in response to the questions the book addresses. And the authors definitely try to be fair. However, when the book gets to the question of divine revelation, it is inadequate in my opinion. The authors briefly touch on the issue of other religions claiming to have supernatural revelation, but they very quickly move to a narrow Christian focus which describes a common apologetic argument in defence of the authority of the Christian scriptures. There are very significant and contentious issues around a claim that one religion has direct knowledge from “God”. Maybe I'm asking too much of an essentially Evangelical survey of epistemology. My hope is that any reader, including Christian readers, will also explore some of these issues by seeking out introductory texts on epistemology that come from a variety of views.

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