Book Review: How to Be an Atheist

In How to Be an Atheist, Mitch Stokes dissects the scientific and moral arguments of those who embrace naturalism and evolutionary theory. The book is divided into two parts with the first half investigating the scientific evidence and the latter half covering the assertions on morality. The thesis of the book is that naturalists employ a high level of scrutiny and skepticism to those with a religious worldview but do not measure their own claims by the same stringent standards. In other words, because naturalists believe that they have scientific evidence and logic on their side, they find their own perspective to be much more reasonable and common sense than those of creationists. In the first part, Stokes raises many examples showing that despite major advances in technology and science, humans still know very little about our universe and its origins. Although naturalists often use complex theories in disciplines such as quantum physics to explain what goes on in the world, the author states that even the most cutting-edge theories, such as M-theory and string theory, fall short in providing explanations to every phenomenon and occurrence we observe. In the second part, Stokes explains how most naturalists appeal to a form of moral nihilism or moral subjectivism when trying to make sense of how morals and values operate in our world. However, the author warns that when we view morality as a matter of taste or preference, we are treading on dangerous ground as it opens up many undesirable possibilities. Conversely, Stokes asserts that the morals we uphold in society are not based on individual tastes but on the objective morality that can be found in God and His nature. The book is not an outright defence for Christianity but an appeal to naturalists to take a closer look at the substantial deficiencies of their worldview in the areas of science and morality.

I would readily recommend this book to both Christians and non-believers. The contents may be hard to digest at times for those unfamiliar with philosophy and physics but Stokes is diligent in making the material readable by providing simple illustrations and helpful explanations. I appreciate the author’s plea for readers to seriously re-examine science and its claims as we are often prone to simply accept what we are taught in school or media without utilizing proper skepticism and digging deeper into the evidence. Ironically, as more discoveries are being made through modern science, we find that we actually know much less than we thought we knew about the universe. Stokes argues that the faith required for naturalists to believe in science is equal to, if not much greater than, that required of those who believe in God. For Christians who may feel inadequate when discussing scientific or moralistic arguments with non-believers, this book serves as a suitable tool to help believers engage in these conversations. For those who put their faith in naturalism, the contents of this book may provide the motivation to seriously reconsider the assertions that naturalism and evolutionary theory make.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

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