BOOK NOTES: 'Belief, Disbelief, Unbelief: Helps Guide the Transition from Belief to Disbelief, or Vice Versa

By David M. Kinchen
BOOK NOTES: 'Belief, Disbelief, Unbelief: Helps Guide the Transition from Belief to Disbelief, or Vice Versa

Recently retired Pope Benedict XVI was well-known for denouncing secularism and trying to raise the ramparts against its encroachment into religious belief. He had good reason to be concerned. Surveys across the world have shown a slow but persistent decline in belief in god and declining adherence to principles and practices that derive from belief in god.


“What this means is that many people are in transition, moving from belief to disbelief, or vice versa. Whichever direction they are going, they will need some guidance. Unfortunately, most books on belief and disbelief are either highly polemical or very dull,” says Philip Yaffe. His new book Belief, Disbelief, Unbelief: A Thousand Thoughts before You Die (Kindle, $6.40)  takes a largely neutral view by leaving commentaries on this life-shaping transition to great thinkers from across the ages.


The book is comprised of 10 sections, each one filled with sharp, pithy, and often witty quotations from luminaries as diverse as Thomas Aquinas, Richard Dawkins, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Lord Byron, Adolf Hitler, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Mother Teresa, Bertrand Russell, Fulton J. Sheen, Mark Twain, and Oscar Wilde.


“As you can see, the contributors are all over the place because the question of belief and disbelief is universal and therefore should not reflect only the opinions of so-called experts. There are even quotes from apparently unlikely sources such as Woody Allen, Thomas Edison, E.M. Forster, Ricky Gervais, Peter O’Toole, Edgar Allen Poe, and Vidal Sassoon,” Yaffe points out.


The 10 main sections are: 1) an overview of belief, disbelief, and unbelief; 2) aspects of religion in general; 3) aspects of Christianity; 4) aspects of Judaism; 5) aspects of Islam; 6) aspects of atheism; 7) aspects of faith; 8) aspects of good and evil; 9) aspects of morality; 10) aspects of heaven and hell. Where necessary, quotes in each section are accompanied by explanatory notes to ensure that the important thoughts being expressed are crystal clear.


To round things off, the book ends with a section on religious jokes (jokes in good taste help to illuminate key issues) and a section on the basic tenets of logical thinking to help readers to most convincingly present their thoughts and defend their ideas.


“If you are moving from belief to disbelief, or vice versa, or know someone who is, this book will provide you with solid but easily acquired insights to help you most fruitfully negotiate this extremely important transition,”  Yaffe concludes.


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Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s daily student newspaper.


He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.


Books by This Author


  • The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional


  • The Gettysburg Collection:

A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional


  • Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it


  • Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it


  • What’d You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?

Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French


  • Belief, Disbelief, Unbelief: A Thousand Thoughts before You Die


  • Extraordinary Ordinary Things: How Did We Ever Live without Them?


  • The Little Book of BIG Mistakes


  • The Eighth Decade: Reflections on a Life



Books in “Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists” Series


(at March 2013)


  • Astronomy & Cosmology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists


  • Human Biology: Major Achievements of Lesser-known Scientists



Books in “The Essential Ten Percent” Series


(at March 2013)


  • College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent


  • Logical Thinking: The Essential Ten Percent


  • Public Speaking: The Essential Ten Percent


  • The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent


  • Wise Humor: The Essential Ten Percent


  • Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent


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