Political Philosophy: All That Matters — University of Helsinki
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A publisher who wants to bring out a book about God is caught on the horns of a dilemma: if they ask a fervent theist to write it they will get an uncritical eulogy; if they ask an atheist they will get a death notice.
Is Pleasure or Happiness all that Matters?
The obvious middle way is to find a wavering agnostic, who, hopefully, will be even-handed. Mark Vernon seems to be the go-to guy for God in the current intellectual climate — an idealist whose time has come.
Such a state of ignorance does not seem to be a promising launching pad for two books on God. As it turns out, Mark Vernon is not really an agnostic in the above sense anyway. It is clear from these two books that he does believe that God exists. These books are no even-handed exploration of the pros and cons of believing in the existence of a deity, but, despite occasional demurs and reservations, are at root out-and-out paeans to the divine. What results within the compass of the two books are more than two dozen essays on a wide range of topics more or less related to God.
According to the index there are only four direct references to God in whole book. For someone reading this book intent on deepening their understanding of God, this is a trifle disappointing.
The Cosmos of Duty
Let me vent my frustration first. Vernon brings to our attention a wide range of religious and non-religious writers and thinkers, from the pre-Socratics to Albert Einstein everybody wants Albert Einstein on their side!
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Vernon will typically quote from their writings or summarise their views and then discuss their contribution to the question being considered. But then, I suppose being ambiguous is one of the perks of being an agnostic or God. Although in answering some questions Vernon is very up-to-date, with twenty-first century sources, in others he irritatingly ignores some of the most interesting recent work.