Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Charles Templeton - Farewell to God **

My father is always buying religious literature, littering our bathroom and dining room with it, trying to get me to read it, to just "understand where he's coming from." So I picked up Charles Templeton's Farewell to God in retaliation, more for him than for me. I was hoping to pass it along to him after I finished it, to finally see "where I was coming from." Of course, my dad isn't much of a reader, and is already steeped in his own library of works, so it might be a while until he gets around to this one.

As for my own read of the book, as much as I agree with each and every of Templeton's points, I can't help but think I could have argued them more convincingly, given the chance. Templeton is a former minister, and a famous one at that, old friends with Billy Graham. He worked in the ministry for quite a few years, but the glaring disparities he saw between what Christianity was and what it loved to say it was ate away at him slowly until he could no longer bring himself to say the words he was being paid (on television by that point, no less) to say.

Templeton attacks Christianity from a stance inside the religion, a different approach than famed atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens who come from scientific and philosophical backgrounds. What Templeton's book does is pick apart the Bible and the greater doctrine of the church, piece by piece, holding each story and each consequent inconsistency up to the light of an inquiring mind. He does not claim to know more or be smarter than others, just to have come to understand the horrors in the faith he'd dedicated his life to. It's really a rather sad tale when you step back from it, and I applaud the man for finding the strength enough to write such a book.

But as it goes, the writing is pretty pedestrian. It's hardly even a book for the Beginning Atheist; it's much better suited for someone who is finding themselves confused about the religion they've been raised in, looking for answers to why things just don't quite make sense. Farewell to God a simply written book, and it gets its point across expertly, so I can't knock it for that. But for someone as angry as me, it comes off a little soft. Templeton doesn't even classify himself as an unbeliever--he's a vague agnostic who insists that he still believes in "something." Perhaps he is referring to the god of Einstein, the ultimate power of the universe. Or of the aether, in its ever-flowing, almighty ambivalence to mankind. Or so I can hope, because to look for more would unhinge his entire argument, whether it came through a church, a mosque or a synagogue.

1 comment:

  1. I have been most interested in perusing this work of Mr. Templeton for some time having not the chance to do so I shall make the time now since I too am one given to intellectual pursuits for the benefit of apology.