Greg Graffin is frontman, singer and songwriter for the punk band Bad Religion. He also happens to have a Ph.D. in zoology and wrote his dissertation on evolution, atheism and naturalism. Preston Jones is a history professor at a Christian college and a fan of Bad Religion's music. One day, on a whim, Preston sent Greg an appreciative e-mail. That was the start of an extraordinary correspondence. For several months, Preston and Greg sent e-mails back and forth on big topics like God, religion, knowledge, evil, evolution, biology, destiny and the nature of reality. Preston believes in God; Greg sees insufficient evidence for God's existence. Over the course of their friendly debate, they tackle such cosmic questions as: Is religion rational or irrational? Does morality require belief in God? Do people only believe in God because they are genetically predisposed toward religion? How do you make sense of suffering in the world? Is this universe all there is? And what does it all matter? In this engaging book, Preston and Greg's actual e-mail correspondence is reproduced, along with bonus materials that provide additional background and context. Each makes his case for why he thinks his worldview is more compelling and explanatory. While they find some places to agree, neither one convinces the other. They can't both be right. So which worldview is more plausible? You decide.
Heres an unusual chance to eavesdrop on a very enlightening exchange. Preston Jones, history professor at a Christian college, edited his online correspondence with Greg Graffin, singer and songwriter for the punk band, Bad Religion. The theme that runs through their messages involves the relevancy of God in a real world. As each man offers opinions and honest evaluations of their opposing beliefs, the reader is exposed to differing worldviews enclosed in atmospheres of whirling ideas.
What started as a simple fan letter from Preston to Greg turned into a spirited and lively discussion about the deeper issues of life. Gregs previous research on evolution, upon which he based his dissertation, highlights the principles of atheism he embraces. On the other hand, Prestons commitment to Christ, along with his academic training, urged him to express his beliefs in a persuasive and intelligent way.
An interesting aspect of this exchange is the fact that for the most part, the emails are uncensored. Although Preston has deleted some personal comments and added a few remarks to clarify certain statements, the correspondence has a refreshingly honest and open feel to it. Both men seek to justify their position, and each remains respectful, yet insistent, in their dialogue. The tone of the notes is more casual than scholarly, while the interchange of the debate remains conversational. Clearly, this is a genuine investigation of ideas that is not staged for a reading audience, but was composed as a vibrant discussion between two intelligent men.
Both points of view were expressed clearly, and neither participant shied away from the tougher questions concerning Christianity and religion. These pages are literally packed with explosive thoughts, which may cause some readers to squirm in their seats. Yet, the enormous benefit of this book is a serious and thoughtful assortment of opinions, presented in an intriguing and insightful manner. Joyce Handzo, Christian Book Previews.com
"I've overheard numerous conversations but none as captivating as this. Greg Graffin and Preston Jones disagree agreeably while discussing the things that matter most. I learned from both, grew in appreciation for the creative music of Bad Religion and reflected on how better to flesh out my faith in a pluralistic world. I hope all my friends accept their invitation to listen in. This is a book that needs to be not just read, but discussed."
Jones proffers a case for Christianity that is free of biblical proof-texting, which non-believers might find refreshing.
Here is an e-mail exchange like few others. I would recommend it for anyone interested in how a Christian and an anti-Christian can intelligently and peacefully interact.
"In books that seek to commend the Christian faith, often the conversation is one-sided, lacking 'apologetic tension.' Not so with this new work edited by Preston Jones. In a dynamic conversation (actually an e-mail exchange) between Jones, the Christian history professor, and punk rocker Greg Graffin over matters of consequence, we see elements of Christian theism and scientific naturalism going head to head. I was drawn deeply into their intellectual volleys, their spiritual perspectives and their friendship. I also learned about books and issues that were new to me. This work is a model of civility on the part of both parties, and an enlightening one at that!"
"A good spirited conversation can be very educational. It gives people the freedom to draw their own conclusions, which is usually more powerful than forcing one down the reader's throat. Preston Jones has 'authored' a great read simply by keeping the conversation true to what was 'said' via his e-mails with Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin. This collection of back-and-forth debate concerning the worldviews of a naturalist and a Christian is fascinating and as compelling as a suspense novel, as educational as a college course and as relational as a blog. Anyone young enough to love rock and roll and smart enough to know that the Christian faith needn't back down from any philosophy will appreciate the frankness found inside this book."