BUCKMAN, Robert, Can We be Good Without God?: An Exploration of Behaviour, Belonging and the Need to Believe. Penguin 2000, $37 CAN. (Reviewed by Troy Jollimore, National Post, December 9, 2000, E15)

by Robert Brow   (www.brow.on.ca)

I have never read such a damning review as Troy Jollimore's exposure of the bad logic in this book. But I was intrigued by the title, which I will rephrase as   "Too much God can Make you Bad."

The plain fact is that many people destroy themselves and others by insisting that God has guided them in their decisions:

And there was an InterVarsity group where a totally dedicated fellow came up to one of the girls he had never talked to even once, and informed her "God has told me to marry you."

By meditating on the words of the Bible, and prayer as a conversation with God, we do receive illumination for the path, and guidance when we don't know where to turn. But most of the time God wants us to invest our five talents with common sense and the advice of others. And don't blame him when we go belly up. He is glad to forgive, and restore, and send us out wiser the next time. What we must not do is sit waiting for orders, because he might be harsh and unforgiving if we set up a peanut stand, instead of selling olives.

Robert Buckman's argument is that religious belief makes people kill people, and we would be better off without it. "You can believe what you like, but you should act as if God does not exist."  Nice try, but in Rugby Football games are lost by a drop kick that goes the wrong side of the left goal post. The art is to go right between the legalistic post of the Pharisees and the worldly- wise post of the Sadducees, right down the middle (Matthew 16:11). And to do that we are promised  "If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously" (James 1:5).

In his review Troy Jollimore's complaint is that Buckman fails to engage with the subtle logic of genuine faith, and he does not notice the influence of the prayers of Christian people at their best. That is not as easy as it sounds.

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments