A Shot of Faith to the Head: Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists is a 2012 philosophy-based Christian apologetic by Mitch Stokes, a philosophy professor with an engineering background. It is largely based on the philosophy of Alvin Plantinga, and is intended to help Christians hold their own in discussions with atheists.
The book is divided into three sections, each one addressing a different argument for atheism: that belief in God is irrational, that science has shown that God doesn’t exist, and that the existence of evil in the world shows that God doesn’t exist.
One of Stokes’s central tasks here is deconstructing evidentialism – the argument that any belief must be supported by sufficient evidence to be rational, and which is used to criticize belief in God. This is probably the highlight of the book. In fact, Stokes generally does an excellent job of picking apart atheistic arguments. He doesn’t do near as good a job, however, on his pro-Christian arguments, which are often too cursory. That this book was put together solely with Christians in mind makes this understandable (Stokes explicitly assumes a Christian worldview on the part of the reader), but it also means that this isn’t really a book you can hand to your atheist friend to read.
While he covers a wide range of atheist scientists and philosophers in his discussions, Stokes leans too heavily on Plantinga for his pro-Christian arguments. A Shot of Faith to the Head thusly serves well enough as an introduction to Plantinga, but it would have been nice to get some other perspectives. However, Plantinga is always Stokes’s go-to guy.
A Shot of Faith to the Head will be accessible to any reasonably educated person without a philosophy degree, but it may prove a great deal of work for the reader, as the philosophical and logical concepts here tend to be complex. The summaries at the end of each chapter are helpful in this regard, but the reader will still have a great deal of cognitive processing to do.
On the whole, Stokes’s refutation of various atheistic arguments and defense of a rational belief are solid, and A Shot of Faith to the Head is a challenging but worthwhile book.
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