Book Review: A Shot of Faith (to the Head)

117981746On the playground of ideas, twenty-first century Christians seem to get the worst of it. The bloody noses. The stolen milk money. The utter lack of confidence that comes with being unable to defend yourself from the bullies occupying swing, slide, and sandbox.

And little wonder, with cranky atheists like Sam Harris running around. Rather than get in a scuffle, many believers look for the nearest gopher hole and stuff themselves into it. They’ve been told the Christian faith is irrational, naive, and even dangerous – and judging from the way they react when challenged to “give an answer”, they almost believe it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What if I told you (while doing my best Morpheus impression) that Christianity is neither irrational, naive, nor dangerous? What if I told you that atheists are the irrational ones? What if I told you their beliefs can’t withstand the keen examination they demand from others?

Well, after telling you, I’d hand you a copy of Mitch Stokes’ book, A Shot of Faith (to the Head). Then I’d say, Go get ’em, Tiger. And you’d waltz right back onto the playground equipped with your very own bully-proof vest.

A Shot of Faith is a great book that does three things extremely well. First, it engages with the reader in a challenging yet accessible way; second, it stresses the practical over the theoretical; third, it takes the offensive against atheism.

Accessible. Dr. Stokes is a wonderful teacher. Instead of indulging in a massive info-dump, he takes time to clearly and patiently articulate each point, neither coddling the reader nor overwhelming him. It’s a fine line to walk, but he does it beautifully.

Practical. The concepts and arguments you study in this book are meant to be used, not merely toyed with in the privacy of your own mind. These are weapons you’re dealing with, soldier. They are not intended to be collected like stamps and then shelved, to be admired another day. Grasp them tightly and get them dirty. You want to know these things, not just be familiar with them.

Taking the offensive. That the Christian faith is utterly defensible is something Stokes’ demonstrates repeatedly; but what he also makes clear is the fact that the atheist’s “faith” cannot be defended, and he equips readers to take advantage of that in several ways. This is an important aspect of apologetics which I think is often overlooked in our day. Believers shouldn’t rest content with dodging and parrying attacks – they should be attacking, too. The “pulling down of strongholds” mentioned in II Cor. 10:4 sounds like an offensive maneuver, wouldn’t you agree?

In conclusion, therefore: do yourself favor, buy this book, and let Dr. Stokes shoot you in the head. It’s really quite invigorating.

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11 thoughts on “Book Review: A Shot of Faith (to the Head)”

  1. If you would ever bother to actually read the writings of people like Sam Harris, perhaps you wouldn’t make the same ongoing, infuriating and misleading mistake consistently made by theists who insist on describing atheists as having a belief or ‘faith’ that can be challenged somehow.

    I am an atheist. I am an atheist simply because I do *not* have a belief in *any* supernatural beings. Are there gods… do aliens travel here from other worlds? I do not know…. in either case, I have not seen any compelling evidence to believe in either. That’s it… that’s all there is to my ‘position’ on the subject. I do not have ‘faith’ that I have seen no compelling evidence for the existence of Zeus, Allah, the tooth fairy, or the Christian god, thus it is not a ‘belief’ that is open to being discredited.

    1. “… it is not a ‘belief’ that is open to being discredited.”

      *cough* Say, are you serious? Or are you just pulling my leg? You’re telling me that you believe there is no God – due to alleged “lack of evidence” – but that this belief is somehow not a belief? Or at the least, not a belief that can be challenged?

      Nonsense. I’ve challenged it. Others have challenged it, are challenging it, and will continue to challenge it. Acting invincible isn’t getting you anywhere.

      1. NO!!! I did *NOT* say I believe there is no god…. that is the point that you seem unable to grasp. I said I do not have a belief in any particular god… it is NOT the same thing. You need to listen to what atheists like myself are actually saying.

          1. My position is this:

            I do not know if any gods exist;

            If I come across compelling evidence that convinced me one does in fact exist then my position would change.

            How are you planning to ‘challenge’ that? By saying I *do* know whether or not a god exists, or that I *have*,in fact, seen evidence that convinced me?

            To illustrate… Let’s imagine a man named Seymour Wiggins. Now, let’s further say that this Mr Wiggins is missing three fingers on his left hand, can speak Mandarin Chinese and Hungarian, lives in a three-story house painted yellow, and plays the accordion.

            Do you believe he actually exists?

            I can certainly agree that it is very likely that a man with that name does actually exists somewhere. The probabilities that he has all the other attributes I just proposes are, however, far less likely. My position vis-à-vis his existence is that: I do not know if such a person exists… I am prepared to admit the possibility that he does (even if I think the probabilities are low), but I will require some evidence one way or the other to take the position that he definitely does, or does not, in fact exist.

            Now … if I take the position that no such person exists you can certainly challenge that position (simply producing our Mr Wiggins would do the trick). But if I simply say I do not know one way or the other… how do you ‘challenge’ that, or take the position that I am wrong? More to the point, how can you characterize my ‘position’ as being arrogant?

            You can still produce Mr Wiggins and, presumably I would, at that point, go from saying ‘I do not know’ to believing in his existence …. but before that happens, I do not see how my claimed lack of knowledge is open to ‘challenge’. Do you see my point?

  2. Well done! I really enjoyed reading this. (You really do have quite a way with words). Great summary.

    Very impressive Morpheus imitation too, lol.

  3. @sybaritica: “I do not know if any gods exist; If I come across compelling evidence that convinced me one does in fact exist then my position would change. How are you planning to ‘challenge’ that?”

    By challenging your criteria for “compelling evidence”. For example, does your idea of compelling evidence involve God appearing to you in burning bush? Does He need to write you a letter, or speak to you in an audible voice? Let’s say such things did happen; even so, would you believe He existed, or would you just dismiss it all as hallucinative nonsense? How would you know?

    I would further challenge you to consider whether you’re objectively considering evidence that does exist. If you’re approaching it with the presupposition that there is no God, then you cannot objectively examine the evidence. Your presuppositions will automatically prevent you from recognizing evidence for God’s existence. It’s like blindfolding yourself and then claiming you cannot see any evidence of the starry heavens.

    My purpose here is not to launch a massive debate about God’s existence – I simply want to point out that your position can, in fact, be challenged. So with that, I bid you good day, and wish you the best with your culinary endeavors.

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