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 .
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 . 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.
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