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Why Faith Matters [Hardcover]

By David J. Wolpe (Author)
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Item Number 422471  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.8" Height: 1"
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2008
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0061633348  
EAN  9780061633348  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A response to atheism by a prominent rabbi traces his struggles with faith throughout a battle with cancer, in a non-denominational guide that outlines a vision of religion informed by love and understanding.

Publishers Description

Judging by today's bestseller lists, one would think that religion is either irrational or extreme. What's missing is a genuine debate between the atheists and fanatics; someone to point out that religion has value in the modern world. Why Faith Matters is an articulate defense of religion in America. It makes the case for faith and shows its relationship to history and science. Refuting the cold reason of the atheists and the hatred of the fanatics with a vision of religion informed by faith, love, and understanding, Rabbi David J. Wolpe follows in a literary tradition that stretches from Cardinal Newman to C. S. Lewis to Thomas Merton—all individuals of faith who brought religion and culture together in their own works. Drawing on the personal and powerful story of his battle with cancer, Wolpe offers a moving statement in support of religion today. In a poignant response to the new atheists, Wolpe takes readers through the origins and nature of faith, the role of the Bible in modern life, and the compatibility of God and science. He concludes with a powerful argument for the place of God, faith, and religion in today's world.

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More About David J. Wolpe

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rabbi David J. Wolpe is rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and author of Why Faith Matters, among other books.

David J. Wolpe currently resides in the state of California.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
faith and science  Jun 1, 2010
This is a truly inspiring book. While the author's motivation was to answer scientific atheists, he goes beyond this and delineates the commonality of all religions (or at least the "great" religions). His sources are very eclectic. He may be preaching to the choir but I feel he effectively shows that faith, as opposed to non-belief (whatever that really might be)is more characteristically human.
Oustanding  Feb 23, 2010
A friend's Bible class is reading this book. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I bought the kindle version that evening.

Thoughtful, insightful, challenging and charming . . .this is a great book. If you are at the place in your life where you are asking what matters, this book is a companion to your thoughts. It's not a book of orthodoxy or of theology as much as a philosophical look at how your belief system will change your experience of life - and why that matters.

The author is a rabbi, my friend is a Seventh-Day Adventist, and I'm a somewhat non-denominational Christian. This book has light and relevance no matter what label your religous experience comes with. Read it with a high-lighter - there will be a lot of nuggets you want to come back to.
it was ok  Dec 5, 2009
Some parts of the book were interesting especially the chapter of Faith versus science. The book was a bit repetitive.
" Doubt isn't the opposite of faith it is an element of faith" Paul Tillich  Sep 24, 2009
Why Faith Matters

Rabbi Wolpe has experienced the certainty of non-belief as only an Atheist can. A change of heart did not free him of some of the doubts that many people experience on their journey of faith. Even Mother Teresa had doubts until the day she died. Rabbi Wolpe articulates the questions that arise periodically for many of us when doubts begin to seep into some of our deeply held beliefs.
Rabbi Wolpe presents the case for the reality of a divine presence in our troubled world that is a result of his own study and experience as well as the writings of historians, scientists and scholars. Rabbi Wolpe's insights were not arrived at in an ivory tower. He has been tested by loss, misfortune and life altering illnesses in his immediate family , not the least of these is his own experience with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, now in remission. I found particularly inspiring his attitude towards prayer during the darkest days of his illness. He said that he did not pray to be cured, but that God would be by his side regardless of the outcome. To me that is a powerful example of faith.

His writing style is intellectually engaging and spiritually satisfying . There is much to reflect and meditate upon . I refer to this and his other books often. These include Making Loss Matter, In Speech and in Silence and The Healer of Shattered Hearts.

Honest, but unsurprising, religious apologetics  Sep 15, 2009
David Wolpe is a fairly enlightened person among the religious writers that take on the 'new atheists'. He dared to question some of the historicity of the Bible, such as the exodus story. He's is also quite modest (and seemingly realistic) in his explanations for the works of God. And he acknowledges the many atrocities performed in God's name, and even admits that God cannot be proven. Combined with his writing skills, he seemed a good candidate to reach out across the aisle to an non-theist like me. So I read this book with some hope of obtaining a better understanding of my religious friends.

Mega-church founder Rick Warren (Wolpe's fellow southern-Californian) wrote the glowing intro to this book. Indeed many of Rabbi Wolpe's points regarding 'purpose' align very well with Warren's world view (but without Jesus, obviously).

Wolpe has a clear story line. He starts with a deep historical perspective, followed by a section on the compatibility of science and faith. In that, he struggexuses all the well known (and long refuted) arguments in religious apologetics: free will as excuse for the bad in the world, God is the source of morality, and the usual Stalin as example of the bad Atheist.

TIn Chapter 7 Wolpe tries to convince the reader that statistics prove that religion is good for you. This is the most dishonest chapter in an otherwise honest book. He cherry picks statements by people who seem to be scientists, like Professor Armand Nicholi of Harvard or Harald Koenig of Yale. He omits to say that both are seriously tied to the Christian right ideology. Nicholi was a founder of the 'family research council', together with James Dobson. Koenig is not objective either, being the founder of the center for spirituality, theology and health. Such ideologically biased work cannot be taken seriously as scientific proof that religious people are happier.

A characteristic of Wolpe's prose is the many sentences that are formulated as questions. For example: on page 122 he writes:

"Can one be clear-eyed about the world's cruelties and still believe in its [God's] superintendence?"

The questions is good, which implies that Wolpe will give a satisfactory answer to them later. He does not, unfortunately.... He admits to only finding a 'small glimpse of a promise'. I fail to see any.

Brave, but painful are Wolpe's excuses for the cruelties in the Bible. Basically his point is that given the time of 1000BC, the communal stoning of a rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21) or the near human sacrifice of Abraham is actually an improvement over a polytheistic society. That is contradictory to his earlier points that the Bible is a source of timeless universal morality.

The stories he tells from his own experiences with Cancer are genuine. He does not see any sign of a supernatural intervention to save him. Basically, he has never witnessed God's hand directly interacting with the physical world. That sets Wolpe apart from other Evangelical pastors, who will see a divine miracle in most everything, and who believe that prayer can improve the chances of Divine intervention. Wolpe correctly believes that the only way faith could work is trough some inner reflection of person himself. I can buy that the sense of community and human interaction that a church offers can be positive. It is not, however, a proof for the God hypothesis.

The site of christianbookstore warns their readers for the contents of this book:

"NOTE: Wolpe accepts Darwinian evolution as fact in his assessment of religion."

Most of their clientele are apparently young earth creationist whose faith could be shaken by reading this. An indeed, on the surface Wolpe seems to accept more science as fact than Rick Warren or most evangelicals. With nostalgia he describes a pleasant discussion with 'old atheist' Steven Jay Gould where they agree that religious and science address different spaces. Wolpe's discussions with Sam Harris, who claims that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible, did not leave such a good aftertaste. He is deeply disturbed by the new atheists, but (good for him) does not lower himself to ad hominem attacks.

The frail evangelical readers do not need to worry, because Wolpe does not really accept evolution. He's willing to concede some territory to science, but only if God is still the designer. On page 94 he writes in the context of evolution:

"The atheistic assumption that all is random is a statement of faith, not of scientific veracity."

Apart from its factual incorrectness, this statement betrays that Wolpe is an "old-earth" creationist: evolution happened, but instead of random selection it was Gods hand forging the creatures. I'm afraid that no amount of evidence regarding the randomness of the evolutionary process will ever convince him.

This is further illustrated in the next chapter where he writes:

"[...] that Darwin robbed us of the idea of our uniqueness".

To hold on to the dogma that Gold created man in his image, Wolpe twists and turns to find some arguments, but ultimately fails to
convince me.

I somewhat understand that Faith matters to Wolpe. He writes honestly about it. It matters, but ultimately it fails to make sense to me.

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