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How to Be an Agnostic


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: There's Something, not Nothing Socrates' Quest: The Agnostic Spirit Cosmic Religion: How Science does God How to Be Human: Science and Ethics Socrates or Buddha? On Being Spiritual but not Religious Bad Faith: Religion as Certainty Christian Agnosticism: Learned Ignorance Following Socrates: A Way of Life How To Be An Agnostic: An A-Z Further reading and references Index

About the Author

Mark Vernon began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England, left an atheist, and is now a searching agnostic on such things. He is a writer and journalist, other titles including After Atheism and Wellbeing, part of the Art of Living series he edits. He writes regularly for the Guardian and the TLS, is on the faculty at The School of Life in London, and is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck College, London. He has degrees in physics and theology, and a PhD in philosophy.


'Mark Vernon - a former Anglican priest who left the church only to find dogmatic unbelief just as unsatisfying - shows how being an agnostic can be a modern version of the spiritual life. If you are discontented with simple-minded atheism and literal-minded faith, this is the book for you.'- John Gray, author of The Immortalization Commisssion: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death

'This lucid and eminently readable book brings home to the reader the importance of recognising the limits of our knowledge. At a time when public and private discourse is often characterised by an aggressive and unrealistic certainty, it is an important contribution.'- Karen Armstrong, one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs

'As ever, Mark Vernon writes with sharp insight and a generous understanding of how humans search and create meanings to sustain their lives. He is, quite simply, one of the few writers in England today who really understands the impulse to religious belief and how a faithless age can respond. There are few others I trust to bring such intelligence and sympathy to these issues.' - Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian

'Between religion and atheism is a third way into which Vernon takes his readers. It is a challenging, cogently argued perspective.' - Good Book Guide

'For twenty years I have been waiting for a book that exposes the empty certainties of religious fundamentalism and its secular twin: scientific triumphalism. Mark Vernon has delivered that and much, much more.' - Mark Dowd, broadcaster and film-maker

'He defends ambiguity and undecidability with an almost Evangelical zeal. And because he writes with such a delicate blend of deft coolness on the one hand, and fervour on the other, many are likely to be both enchanted and persuaded by his apologetics. - Martyn Percy, Church Times

'The strength of the in challenging false certainties, whether pseudo-scientific or pseudo-religious.' - Dolan Cummings, The Institute of Ideas

'This book is more than a well-reasoned argument for agnosticism; it is a timely reminder of the recognition of human limits, in all areas, and a suggestion that the possibility of living within the mystery that is the world can be a good thing.' - Robert L. Smith, Jr., International Journal of Public Theology

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