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The Maturity of Belief: critically assessing religious faith

Continuum (New York) 2007
RRP $49.95

There is a growing concern these days about the impact of dogmatic religious belief. Throughout history religion has often been the source of contention between groups of people and has frequently stifled intellectual and social progress.

With this in mind Lowery seeks to answer two questions: can one embrace being an intellectual and a person of faith? And does faith have a rational basis?

The real problem in Lowery’s mind is not that faith is an untenable position, but rather that its practitioners are often disproportionately immature intellectually. They, like many, put way too much stock in certainty. Since faith claims elude certainty, we either cling to dogmatism/naiveté or radical skepticism, and degrees in between.

Lowery’s goal in The Maturity of Belief, it seems, is to show that faith does not need to be certain in order to be valid or strong. His central philosophical position is that, in things of the mind, humans should seek truth first and foremost.

Self-preservation, tradition, and others motivations should fall in line after truth-seeking. Therefore fear of evolution, science, and the like should not be a devastating or polemical issue for the Christian. In other words, our faith should be derived from our pursuit of truth, rather than simply possessing faith and trying to pick and choose our truth claims if they work with our current schema.

Lowery embraces faith from an open position rather than having it as the starting point for his argument, which makes The Maturity of Belief k quite challenging. But all in all, Lowery provides a deeply pastoral and meaningful book addressing the juxtaposition of the mind and religious faith.

Reviewed by Peter Harvey, Frontier Services – Flinders Patrol