Midwest Book Review ● Carl Logan’s Bookshelf
Synopsis: “Deference to Doubt: A Young Man’s Quest for Religious Identity in First Century Judea” is the story of Amos, a young Judean living in the first century CE, who is searching for his identity. He debates with representatives of the main religious and ideological movements of his time, subjecting the resulting torrent of varying, often contradictory views to critical analysis.
The conclusion Amos reaches is that there is no obvious dogmatic endpoint to his quest. From the profusion of opinions, he will have to compile a fitting spiritual ”menu” that gives depth and meaning to his life, with dialectics and ongoing discourse as his guiding principle and doubt as the foundation for his religious life.
Critique: In the form of a novel, “Deference to Doubt: A Young Man’s Quest for Religious Identity in First Century Judea”, Professor van Praag pursues the direction he took in his books God and Psyche (God en Psyche), Beyond Sensibility (Het Verstand te Boven) and Just Beyond Reason (Net Voorbij de Rede), and boldly, yet respectfully, interprets and reflects on the concept of God, the Bible, and the people who appear in it. An inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, “Deference to Doubt” is an extraordinary and especially recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.
Editorial Note: Herman M. Van Praag is Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the Universities of Groningen, Utrecht and Maastricht in The Netherlands and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He has conducted a great deal of research into the relationship between (abnormal) brain function and (abnormal) behavior. In 1989, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands for his scientific and educational work. Professor Van Praag received the Founders Award from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in December 2019, to acknowledge his efforts to put religion/religiosity/meaning/purpose (long considered to be irrelevant for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment) on the agenda.