Summary: A readable look at the philosophy of reason and human inquiry.
A common frustration in arguing with someone about, well, anything, is the problem of different assumptions and conflicting foundational beliefs—especially when we aren’t even aware they are in conflict. I tend to want to address the underlying issues first, to distill them down to their fundamental essence. Mitch Stokes does exactly that in what is basically a layman’s summary of the work of well-known Notre Dame philosopher Alvin Plantinga.
Leveraging Plantinga (and a few others) to do the heavy intellectual lifting, Mitch—very ably and eloquently—addresses the very building blocks of human inquiry: What is reason? What makes something rational? What is a belief, and how do we develop them? Do beliefs have to rational in order to be reasonable or legitimate? What does secular humanist and atheistic thought contribute to these discussions, and are those contributions ultimately rational or reasonable?
Stokes handles all of these topics and more, comprehensively and readably. He shows that the recent spike in angry polemics from of the “New Atheists” is inversely proportional to the strength of their arguments and assumptions. It turns out (surprise!) that atheism and methodological naturalism end up being intellectually self-defeating. Even rationality itself ultimately depends on a divine designer. In addition, Stokes shows that the so-called “problem of evil” ends up being a greater problem for atheists than theists.
The book is clear and concise for such difficult topics, and I highly recommend A Shot of Faith (To The Head) to believer and skeptic alike. It will challenge assumptions and understanding on both sides, and will hopefully lead to fruitful conversation.