Book Review: Thought In The Absence Of Certainty: You Can See A Lot By Looking: Part One – Survival In A World Of Disinformation

Thought In The Absence Of Certainty: You Can See A Lot By Looking: Part One – Survival In A World Of Disinformation, by Gordon Dye

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review.]

For most of this book, this well-organized and conversational work sounds like someone who would make an enjoyable if somewhat quirky dinner conversation partner. While this book will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea (it is part one of a planned four part book that, all told, will extend for more than 800 pages at the author’s current pace), there is a great deal of this book that is quite intriguing. Much of the book speaks of the common search for certainty (if not absolute certainty) among religious folks of a wide variety of religious traditions as well as irreligious folks of a philosophical mindset. In many ways, the better parts of this book remind me of the better examples of contemporary philosophy and our struggle against the binds of our existence [1].

Some aspects of this book are greatly praiseworthy. For one, most of the book is a thoughtful examination of questions of free will, filled with quirky but humorous subjective definitions of the degree of certainty the author has in his conclusions and postulates, a few intriguing stories as well as a plethora of definitions. The book manages to make some very sound judgments on the issue of Bayesian probabilities, looking at compound projections and the reduced amount of confidence one can get when one makes multiple projections based on uncertain information. Much of this material is logically sound and would be unfamiliar to many readers, and of great use. Were this book simply a thoughtful and personal examination of philosophy, the fact that this book is highly quirky and lacking references would not be a bad thing at all, but would be counted as an exceedingly good thing. Likewise, the fact that this book manages to deal honestly with the reasons why people tend to be confirmed in their opinions, including the popularity of ideas in the general public.

Unfortunately, this book has some major ulterior motives that become evident by the time a reader finishes this book. Despite the fact that the book attempts to present itself as a balanced and moderate work between Western and Eastern religions, this book joins a lengthy list of books written of late that attempt to legitimize New Age ideas of karma (in the guise of “natural justice”) and reincarnation as a way of ensuring divine justice [2]. As this book phrases such ideas in a rather non-dogmatic way at first, they are less offensive than they would be in other realms. Likewise, towards the beginning of the book, the author makes a very odd comment about the Trinity, viewing the angelic hosts as part of the Holy Spirit and part of the godhead. For most of the book, this definition does not appear to make much of a difference, but the perceptive reader will keep the idea in the mind in order to seek to understand where it is going, because authors do not define terms in unusual ways without some kind of purpose.

It is only towards the end of the book, though, that the author makes his purposes plain, and that is a disappointment. For one, the author identifies conventional religion with close-mindedness, which is a bit of a cheap shot. Worse, the author appears to only connect Satanic activity with lawful and orderly and controlling tendencies and not with rebellious and anarchical behavior. This conflation between order and evil accounts for a great deal of imbalance in the work as a whole. The fact that the author seeks to legitimize astral projection as well as certain paranormal requests to “good spirits” for assistance against bad spirits is even more troubling, especially since the author’s attempts to de-legitimize the authority of scripture and praise mystical experience would seem to reduce the ability someone could have to ‘test’ the spirits to make sure what kind of spirits one is dealing with.

As a whole, therefore, this book is at least mildly disappointing, in that it delivers a view that is tolerant to just about everyone except those who take their religion seriously. As is lamentably common in our contemporary political discourse, tolerance and open-mindedness seem to carry with them a certain close-mindedness towards those who are judged as ‘conservative’ and who are demonized with impunity. This author misses a major opportunity to show some open-mindedness towards religious folks and instead engages in ad hominem attacks on those the author judges as too narrow-minded to agree with his points. In some ways, this book is a bit of tease, promising critical thought but being critical of those things that most people tend to be critical of, and not sufficiently critical of the ways that we all are all too often examples of the emotional reasoning and close-mindedness that we decry in others.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/book-review-no-one-sees-god/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/book-review-the-passion-of-the-western-mind/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/book-review-christianty-karma-and-reincarnation/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/book-review-christians-remember-your-past-lives-learn-how/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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6 Responses to Book Review: Thought In The Absence Of Certainty: You Can See A Lot By Looking: Part One – Survival In A World Of Disinformation

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  2. Gordon Dye says:

    Greetings Nathan.
    After many months of pre-occupation with business and personal matters I have decided to begin the process of promoting this book. So I revisited its initial reviews, this being one of them. First let me express my appreciation for your adding a substantial amount of intelligence and objectivity to the philosophical and religious dialogue.

    I have a few questions concerning your review:
    1) Concerning your statement, “Despite the fact that the book attempts to present itself as a balanced and moderate work between Western and Eastern religions, this book joins a lengthy list of books written of late that attempt to legitimize New Age ideas of karma (in the guise of “natural justice”) and reincarnation as a way of ensuring divine justice ,” are you stating that the concept of natural justice or karma is New Age and therefore does not merit discussion as a possible delivery mechanism of justice?

    2) Concerning, “For one, the author identifies conventional religion with close-mindedness, which is a bit of a cheap shot.” Isn’t it true that MANY preachers and sermons openly state (paraphrased) that one way to be loyal to God is to reject and avoid examination of teachings that may cause disbelief in whatever the particular religion teaches? I consider this to be normal religious behavior. One of the most common fallacies deeply embedded in the human condition is the tendency toward listening to news and information sources that primarily reinforce one’s beliefs. That is not a cheap shot. But it is a problem worth noting.

    3) Concerning, “Worse, the author appears to only connect Satanic activity with lawful and orderly and controlling tendencies and not with rebellious and anarchical behavior.” Control of one person by another (other than parental control) appears to me as the foundation evil motivation. The text does not object to establishing laws or applying penalties for their violation. At its core isn’t the essence of evil the arbitrary control of a person by another or by any other entity? Is such control, even by God, Godly?

    4) Concerning, “The fact that the author seeks to legitimize astral projection as well as certain paranormal requests to “good spirits” for assistance against bad spirits is even more troubling, especially since the author’s attempts to de-legitimize the authority of scripture and praise mystical experience would seem to reduce the ability someone could have to ‘test’ the spirits to make sure what kind of spirits one is dealing with.” To be clear, I do not approve of contacting the dead. I stated near the top of page 187 (in italics) “We are not speaking of contacting spirits or mediumship.” Where on earth do I suggest that we enlist the support of good spirits against bad spirits????

    On page 195 in bold type I state, “In my opinion, no one other than God the original Creator should be prayed to or worshiped.” How does that fit with your statement?

    I do regard the ban on (non-worship) communication with angelic entities to be unscriptural, and it subjects us all to the continued “hiding” of impostors of Jesus and His messengers. Additionally, just because I characterize Scripture as not necessarily verbally inspired does not mean that it is not inspired at all or that it is not useful as a benchmark for testing spirits. I do not denigrate the inspiration process. I say many things that gives it credibility, but I do describe its irrefutably logical limitations.

    I would not be writing this if I thought you were sufficiently caught up in the web of fuzzy thinking that pervades religious circles to not reconsider your statements. I do respect, most of all, the time and intelligence you put into your evaluations.

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    gordon

    • Thanks for young lengthy reply. Concerning some of your statements, a reply would be lengthy enough to serve as another blog entry. Regarding karma, the relationship of a karmic debt to justice is such that it would negate a view of grace, given that a large part of the grace of God to mankind involves unmerited pardon. Concerning communication with angelic entities, my main concern in writing a review was that many of those entities most interested in communication would be likely to be demonic beings posing as angels of light. To be sure, believers like Daniel were able to interact with angels, as were others, and if this is what you mean, then I would not see it as anything problematic, so long as one admitted the fact that great spiritual discernment would be necessary to distinguish between genuine angels and their fallen brethren. I am glad you appreciated my review, though.

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