The Authenticity of Faith Now on the Kindle

If you were waiting for it, my second book The Authenticity of Faith is now available on the Kindle. You can also purchase the ebook from ACU Press on iTunes.

For those thinking about buying the book a selection from the concluding chapter:
Freud’s criticism [of religious belief] seems reasonable. Freud, despite his militant atheism, is not just “criticizing” religion. He is describing a real phenomenon, one backed by laboratory research and easily recognized by both believers and non-believers. And while these psychologically-based criticisms of faith do not have any logical purchase upon the ultimate claim regarding God’s existence, they do alter the debate and place believers on the defensive. For if Freud is correct, if believers are using their faith as a means for existential consolation, why should we trust their appeals to “reason” and “evidence” when it is clear that they cannot be objective and fair conversation partners? In the end, the atheist will argue that you cannot dispassionately discuss hard questions when your conversation partner is afraid. As Freud noted, “The believer will not let his belief be torn from him, either by arguments or by prohibitions. And even if this did succeed with some it would be cruelty” (p. 62).

So we are left, then, in the wake of [Freud's argument in] The Future of an Illusion (along with other works of “suspicion”) with the analysis of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1955) from the quote that started this book:
It has long been known that need and desire play a part in the shaping of beliefs. But is it true, as modern psychology often claims, that our religious beliefs are nothing but attempts to satisfy subconscious wishes? That the conception of God is merely a projection of self-seeking emotions, an objectification of subjective needs, the self in disguise? Indeed, the tendency to question the genuineness of man’s concerns about God is a challenge no less serious than the tendency to question the existence of God. We are in greater need of a proof for the authenticity of faith than of a proof for the existence of God. (p. 35-36)
This is the terrain for a new sort of apologetics. No longer are we seeking a proof for the existence of God. We are, rather, now sifting through psychological “need and desire” to determine how they “play a part in the shaping of beliefs.” For in light of the work of the masters of suspicion there is now a “tendency to question the genuineness of man’s concerns about God.” Thus we face a “greater need of a proof for the authenticity of faith than a proof for the existence of God.”

But is such a proof even possible? And what might it mean to say that faith is “authentic” and “genuine”?

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10 thoughts on “The Authenticity of Faith Now on the Kindle”

  1. I submit that it cannot be proven, that my faith experiences can be no more proved in comparison to another's (certainly not objectively for that matter) than the notion that the color red that I see is the color red you see. We can both agree on the similarities of our reds or even the supposed sameness of our reds. And from this we can establish a line of commonality, but at the end of the day we cannot in fact prove that they are actually the same thing. But faith communities have existed for more than 4000 years without such a proof being necessary for communal living, experience, and faith. In the grand narrative of humanity, the call, plea, or demand for valid objective proof of such faith is probably just a blip on the collective human consciousness. Time will tell. 

    Anyways, I haven't read your book yet, it still glares at me on the shelf...I am ashamed.

  2. I look forward to reading your new book, Dr. Beck.  I love the way you are hiking into a new terrain in order to examine more deeply the reasons for why we believe what we believe.  You seem to be asking exactly the right questions. 

    One of the best books I have ever read is "The Question of God", by Dr. Armand Nicholi.  In it he compares and contrasts not only the ideas and beliefs, but more importantly (because I am, if nothing else, a practical man), the everyday lives of S. Freud and C. S. Lewis.

    One man was able to maintain great hope, while the other had little or none.  Whereas Freud died by his physician's hand (OD??) a sad and bitter man, Lewis died peacefully on the same day that JFK was assassinated, steadfast in his joy and hope of life everlasting.  There is a vivid and stark contrast in both the worldviews and the lives of these two great men.  Each was fearless in their search for truth and its application in their lives, following to the logical conclusion.  And both are an example of how seemingly theoretical and abstract notions can have profound and practical effects on our everyday lives, loves, and experiences.

    As an aside, my own instincts place me still in the camp with the masters of suspicion.  (Will I die a hopeless and bitter old man?)  The more science examines brain functioning and the mind, the better we seem to be able to explain religious belief and experience.  See "The Spiritual Brain", by Beauregard and O'Leary.  Examples include experiments in Canada using "the God helmet", current studies of molecule DMT and the pineal gland, and anthropologists and geneticists working together to link human evolution with common and universal belief systems.  And yet, there will always be new and unanswered questions about metaphysical and spiritual matters. 


  3. Am I the only one having formatting problems with the kindle version? I bought it a couple days ago and it seems to get stuck in the bold italic font at the start of the chapter.

  4. "Masters of Suspicion", Ha! ... Faith is authentic and genuine to the extent that is based on lived (personal) experience, and suspicious to the extent that it is received from Authority. Traditions fall variously in between the two. And with Human conceived as the Image of God, I don't see what is "mere" about existential consolation and other psychologically-based mechanisms. Now, off to Amazon.

  5. I need to read your work. I'm curious whether you deal with the basic quandary that "needs and desires" influence our thinking in lots of different ways, some of them good (e.g., I need and desire to trust that the people in my life are not all part of a vast conspiracy--although I can never prove that this is the case). Moreover, in an increasingly secular world, we also "need and desire" to disbelieve in God--or, at least, in a God who is defined by a tradition/ Scripture (rather than by our own feelings/ preferences). In other words, does a believer really hold any more burden of proof than a nonbeliever?

    I'm looking forward to seeing how you approach these issues.

  6. My thoughts are...this theory of Frued's is true!

    Does not disprove the existence of a God or Creator or Higher Power though!

    Just means that regardless if there is a higher power on the other end of our faith or can still be positive for our mental health to have this faith, if indeed it is a healthy faith!

  7. Going to read the book, it sounds like something I've been seeking out for a long while. And as a general comment: YOU ROCK.

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