But John Humphrys is proud to count himself among their ranks. In this audiobook he takes us along the spiritual road he himself has travelled. He was brought up a Christian and prayed every day of his life, until his growing doubts finally began to overwhelm his faith. As one of the nation's most popular and respected broadcasters, he had the rare opportunity in 2006 of challenging leaders of our three main religions to prove to him that God does exist.
The Radio Four interviews, Humphrys In Search of God, provoked the biggest response to anything he has done in half a century of journalism. The interviews and the massive reaction from listeners had a profound effect on him - but not in the way he expected. Doubt is not the easy option. But for the millions who can find no easy answers to the most profound questions, it is the only possible one.
A bit of a disappointment really, this is the sort of book which I think Dawkin's 'God Delusion' put in its place, or at least should have done.
Humphrys explains that his book isn't meant to be like Dawkins', it isn't an attempt to talk people out of belief, but instead to ask why people believe in the first place and this is where I think it falls down. To me, you can't argue belief, you can't convince another to believe what you believe, or explain it fully to them, so to base a religious debate on them seems doomed to failure.
The only thing left, therefore, is reason, and this is what Dawkins did in The God Delusion. He recognised that reason, at least potentially, is shared whereas faith/belief is person and can't be argued. That, to me, was the power of his book. Humphrys, on the other hand, deliberately avoids this and falls back into the old ways of aethists being almost apologetic for their beliefs, or lack thereof.
In the end he actually seems to spend more time attacked Dawkins and his (in Humphreys own words) 'militant aetheists' than anything else and so the book just comes out as nothing more than him expressing an opinion he doesn't even seem that willing to back up. He then spends a lot of time tying himself in knots about why we shouldn't 'attack' people of faith and creating straw men aethist arguments that he can knock down and it comes off as confused, weak and pointless.
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