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stories work for “skeptical believers”

stories work for “skeptical believers” March 30, 2015

Dan TaylorI just came across Daniel Taylor’s 2013 book The Skeptical Believer: Telling Stories to Your Inner Atheist. Many of you are likely familiar with Taylor’s The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment, first published in 1986.

Anyway, I haven’t read all of The Skeptical Believer. For my tastes it’s a bit long (almost 400 pages) for a book with a popular vibe. Still, I’m enjoying it so far (about 80 pages in) and I wanted to share a few paragraphs with you from pp. 30-31.

Rather than type it all out as I usually do, I thought I’d explore new territory and snap these pics with my new iPhone–because I can–and throw them up onto the world wide interweb the way the young people do. If hope it’s not too irritating to read this way, but at least you won’t find any typos.

This excerpt is about the power of stories for “making sense of human experience.” Taylor tells us we are not so much “truth-seeking creatures” as we are seeking meaning and significance, which come from the stories we embody. My favorite line is:

“This is not a metaphor. Life is not like a story. Life is story. Your life is not like a novel. Novels are like your life–and that’s why we read them.”

I resonate with this idea. I suppose I see myself as a “skeptical believer” similar to what Taylor describes (with some disagreements), and I’ve come to see  in my own way how stories inevitably shape us and how we see our world.

Taylor’s thoughts sync somewhat with what I wrote in The Bible Tells Me So (Chapter 3 “God Like Stories” and the final section of that chapter “Stories Work.”). I’m also trying to finish up this month (if I’d only stop blogging) a draft of my next book with HarperOne on how seeking “certainty” in our faith hinders trust in God.

[Note: the italicized portions in parentheses below are Taylor’s “inner atheist” arguing with him. It adds both a funny and honest tone throughout.]

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