Would You Believe?:
Finding God Without Losing Your Mind

by Tom Harpur,
240 pages,
ISBN: 0771039476

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Brief Reviews
by M D

According to Tom Harpur there is a "vast spiritual search going on at the moment", a search which, while not wanting to abandon reason, nevertheless reflects a deep need to believe in God. As his subtitle implies, Harpur aims in Would You Believe? to soothe our angst, to describe a faith in God that is compatible with reason, one that we can embrace without losing our minds.

Harpur recognizes that nowadays the chief stumbling-block for those who wish to believe, say, in Christianity, is that the religion's fundamental creeds are at odds with the discoveries of modern natural science. He advises those who feel this tension to simply abandon many (or perhaps all) of the creeds. He agrees, for example, with those who find belief in the resurrection of the body hard to swallow: "Certainly we are not going to have flesh-and-blood bodies in any future state." To those who might think this belief even remotely credible, he suggests "a light reading course in modern physics". At another point he says that he believes that the advances of science will eventually show that "there are no miracles in the traditional sense."

Advice along such lines, of course, gives rise to another fear: perhaps all faith is ruled out by modern science. Harpur relieves our anxiety on this score, though, by informing us that "science is one way...of looking at the world, but it is not the only way" (Harpur's italics). Science "can often (though not always) tell us how this or that came to be and how it operates but it cannot tell us the final answer." Indeed, far from ruling out faith, recent advances in subatomic physics lend credence to the mystical idea "that God created the universe out of nothing": "In the new science of quantum physics, we are told this is going on all the time." ("This" in this sentence seems to refer to the creation of the universe out of nothing.) While such discoveries do not show that science proves "spiritual or religious truth" they do show that science "certainly doesn't contradict it."

Reflection on the coherence of such guidance leads this reviewer to suggest that the salvation of one's mind depends on recognizing that the reconciliation of reason and faith does not come as easily as Harpur would have us believe.



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