Books in Brief

Me & Dog, by Gene Weingarten, illustrated by Eric Shansby (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4424-9413-8). Hardcover, $17.99.
Me & Dog is perhaps the first children’s book from a major publisher to question religious faith. An ordinary kid, Sid, is worshipped by his dog, Murphy, who thinks Sid controls everything. Sid loves Murphy but wonders what the dog would think if it knew the truth: Sid’s just a human and neither one of them rules the world. The intention is to provide a gentle introduction to basing life on fact and reason, not faith, and spark family discussion.

With a Skeptical Eye: Poems of Irreligion, by Stephen Van Eck
(Rush­ville, Pa.: Wet Water Publications, 2014, ISBN 0-9632612-5-8). 75 pp. Softcover, $10.00.
The author presents fifty-three dated poems, many accompanied by a “story behind” explanation. They are personal statements of his beliefs. Indeed, his author’s bio says simply: If you’ve read the preceding, you know everything that you need to know about me.”

Chasing 120: A Story of Food, Faith, Fraud and the Pursuit of Longevity, by Monte Wolverton (Pasadena, Calif.: Plain Truth Ministries, 2014, ISBN 978-1-889973-15-9). 160 pp. Softcover, $14.99.
A fictional account of an adman turned preacher who combines his interests and expertise to pitch a product that promises 120 healthy years of life for those who follow his regimen. The Bible backs up his discovery, he claims. But tragedy in the family of one of his followers eventually leads to charges of fraud.

Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to Be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser, by Guy P. Harrison (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2015, ISBN softcover 978-1-63388-064-1 and e-book 978-1-63388-065-8). End notes and Bib­li­ography. 290 pp. Softcover $17.00 and ebook $11.99.
This follow-up to Think aims to educate readers on the workings of the brain to better equip them to anticipate and overcome its built-in pitfalls. The author believes that with knowledge and the correct thinking skills, anyone can lead a safer, wiser, and more efficient and productive life.

How to Defend the Christian Faith: Ad­vice from an Atheist, by John W. Lof­­tus (Durham, N.C.: Pitch­stone Pub­lishing, 2015, ISBN 978-1-63431-056-7). Notes. 278 pp. Softcover, $16.95.
The Christian faith has been vigorously defended with a variety of philosophical, historical, and theological arguments, but many of those used in an earlier age no longer resonate. What is the best response to the growing challenge presented by scientific discovery and naturalistic thought? This book is the first written by an atheist for Christians. The author is a former Christian defender who is now a leading atheist thinker. He tells would-be apologists how to train properly, where to study, what to study, what issues they should concern themselves with, and how poorly the professors who currently train them practice their craft.
ince it is an exposé of the present state of Christian apologetics, it can just as easily be used by atheists to refute apologetic arguments.

Respecting Truth: Willful Ignorance in the Internet Age, by Lee McIntyre (New York and London: Routledge, 2015, ISBN hardcover 978-1-138-88880-7, softcover 978-1-88881-4, e-book 978-1-315-71316-8). Endnotes, Bibliography, Index. xi + 150 pp. Softcover, $29.95.
Humans have always indulged in certain irrationalities and held wrong-headed beliefs. In this book, philosopher Lee McIntyre shows how we’ve now reached a watershed moment for ignorance in the modern era due to the volume of misinformation, the speed with which it can be digitally disseminated, and the savvy exploitation of our cognitive weaknesses by those who wish to advance their ideological agendas. He issues a call to fight back against this slide into the witless abyss. In the tradition of Galileo, the author champions the importance of using tested scientific methods for arriving at true beliefs and shows how our future survival is dependent on a more widespread, reasonable world.

The Devil You Know: The Surprising Link between Conservative Christianity and Crime, by Elicka Peterson Sparks (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2016, ISBN hardcover 978-1-63388-150-1 and e-book 978-1-63388-151-8). Endnotes and References. 300 pp. Hrd­cover, $27 and e-book, $12.99.
A criminologist notes the violent biblical passages often cited by religious conservatives and their sense of righteousness, dogmatic mind-set that does not tolerate dissent, and support for harsh punishment for “sinners” and proposes that this makes them more prone to interpersonal conflicts and violent solutions to them. They also lead to high incarceration rates. Of particular concern to the author is Christian nationalism, which has a large following in the South—the place of America’s highest homicide rates as well.

Short reviews of books by Gene Weingarten, Stephen Van Eck, Monte Wolverton, Guy P. Harrison, John
W. Lof­­tus, Lee McIntyre, and Elicka Peterson Sparks.

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