Reviews

From William DeNisi, author of Trinity and Choking Sam:

"A stunning piece of work."

"Courageous!"

"Bruce A. Smith applies critical thought to man's oldest questions. He doesn't pussy-foot around. Rather, he dives right in, immersing the reader, forcing the reader to follow his personal journey from the Bible belt to atheism.

"Shuck the idea that philosophy has to be packaged in gigantic tomes crafted centuries ago by writers long since converted to dust. Smith is a modern day wit and thinker who presents his arguments in an easy, down to earth style.

The Path of Reason may not be for everyone. For some, it may frighten, possibly offend. Others will find comfort. I guarantee you The Path of Reason will, absolutely, challenge you to think. For anyone who has ever pondered thoughts about why are we here and where are we going, this one is must reading. I rated this work a solid A plus!"

What other readers have had to say about The Path of Reason

"Bruce Smith has written an important book with substance that will stand up over time. It should be required reading by the faithful of all creeds..."

"Startingly original"

"A unique approach, very readable and enjoyable, unlike most books it does not just 'preach to the choir.' "

"By living a life based on reason, the author argues that it provides genuine and realistic meaning in our lives, rather than basing our lives on fantasy. Reason allows us to recognize suffering, injustice, and all the unpleasant aspects for the reality of what they really are so we can then deal with them in the best possible way. Reliance on reason brings our attention to the present, rather than to some unrealistic future. With our focus clearly on the here and now, our lives are richer and can be enjoyed more fully.

"Additionally, this fascinating book shows that philosophy does not have to comprise unwieldy and largely inaccessible tomes that were published centuries ago. Instead, the author is a modern day thinker who presents his arguments in an accessible, witty and down-to-earth style. But make no mistake about it: this book will challenge you to think about life in general, about your beliefs, and how you live each day."

"His (Bruce Smith's) motivation in writing it was to utilize his unique methods of presentation to introduce ideas to the widest group of people possible. In this he has been eminently successful... The Path of Reason is exactly the kind of book that could change lives."

Personal reactions to the book from readers

"You have written a very powerful book. I find that I 'carry it in my head' and am often pondering the points that you make."

"You have successfully solved most of the significant questions in life and have developed with it a method for living in the real world. This is not only significant but important and valuable. I am afraid that most people... do not see how logic can produce such a wonderful solution."

"It is as tastefully understated as your Fun With Stuff would have led me to expect. Given your kind of atheism as opposed to that of the militant soapbox orator, I will take yours every time."

"I read half of it without my reading glasses on and didn't even notice... it is the easiest philosophical book I have ever read. Clean, clear, concise... You have helped me start thinking again, and I don't feel so bad about having reached a lot of the same conclusions you have, I just have never been able to put them into words."

Path through woods

About The Path of Reason (from the author)

I grew up attending conservative Baptist churches. Fully committed to the beliefs of my church, I hoped someday to become a minister or to use my artistic talents to serve God. But in high school, I began to question the beliefs that I had once held so strongly. Unsatisfied with the answers I received, I asked even more questions, until I found that my faith faltered and died. While I no longer subscribed to the doctrines of my childhood religion, I still thought that my inability to believe—my lack of faith—was a flaw. I felt terrible, as if there something fundamentally wrong with me.

But there were plenty of other alternatives to the religion I had grown up with, and I began to explore those. There were so many possibilities that I assumed I would never be able to reach any conclusions, and I would have to go through life living in uncertainty, always seeking answers—a very human state.

In my forties, as part of a writing project, I re-examined everything I had believed over the years. I did this on the written page, enforcing a strict self-discipline on myself that consisted of two major rules: I had to be brutally honest with myself, and I also wasn't allowed to contradict myself. I did not realize at the time that those two rules were subsets of a larger constraint: reason. Unknowingly, I was forcing myself to be logical.

As I continued to write and study, I learned about critical thinking, how science works in the real world, and about how knowledge isn't 100%, nor is it about proof. Knowledge is about finding, obtaining, and using the best information possible. I also learned that the mystical, magical world of unlimited possibilities that I had come to embrace as an agnostic was an illusion. There were very real limits upon what can and does happen in our world.

I discovered that reason, science, and critical thinking are not as cold as they were made out to be. They serve as amazing tools help us eliminate imaginary possibilities and ascertain real possibilities. My worldview flipped as a result of this, and through the resulting process of elimination, I became a skeptic and a non-believer. I also became an atheist, and to some people, that's the big deal. But to me, it was almost a side-effect: the natural result of adopting a worldview based upon reason.

Becoming a skeptic brought several benefits. The guilt I had felt for my inability to believe, which had plagued me for years, wasn't a flaw; it was a strength. My new understanding enabled me to put a great number of philosophical questions behind me. But I wanted to share it what I had learned. I knew there were others out there who were struggling with the same issues, and I felt that The Path of Reason could help them.

I wanted The Path to be as straightforward and clear as possible. I did everything I could to make it accessible to a wide variety of readers. I also tried to avoid spending time going over the same arguments that are rehashed in all the other books about these topics. Instead, I wanted to let people know what tools they needed if they were going to sort through those arguments on their own. I also didn't want to spend a lot of time quoting philosophers. It wasn't the men who were important, so much as the ideas they were working with. So I would focus on the principles and not the people.

I think of The Path of Reason primarily as a self-help book, because that is what it was meant to do with it: help people who are wrestling with the big questions. People with strong religious beliefs won't agree with what I wrote and probably won't like it, but I think there are important things that even the most religious person can learn from The Path. For one, they will get some insight into the minds of those who do not think the same way they do.

I also go out of my way in the book to make a distinction between what it means to "believe" versus what it means to "know." Until recently, most philosophers have described knowledge as a "true justified belief." But we can better understand knowledge and belief if we separate the two. They are two different activities, and effective epistemology requires that this distinction be made. In the book, I go into greater detail about this topic in the chapter called "Faith Verses Reason."

Debates about the issues relating to God, religion, and the supernatural can be devisive and often seem to be unrelentingly endless to the point of becoming tedious. But, on a personal level, they can be resolved! That's what The Path of Reason has to offer: the opportunity to get these ideas sorted out in your own head, clear your mind, and get on with your life.