cover image Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto

Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto

Lesley Hazleton. Riverhead, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59463-413-0

Though Hazleton’s subtitle boasts a manifesto to follow, she advises readers early that this manifesto is “strange” in that it “makes no claims to truth, offers no certainties, eschews brashly confident answers to grand existential questions... because to be agnostic is to cherish both paradox and conundrum.” Hazleton immediately sets herself in relation (and in opposition) to the conversation among the four most prominent “new atheists” (she calls them H2D2)—Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett. Their “contemptuous” tone toward the religious is problematic, in her opinion, and they often substitute “wittily phrased generalizations for clarity of thought.” Hazleton flies through the history of various thinkers in concise and fluid prose, treating the reader to a quick yet thorough journey through theology and philosophy. To be agnostic is not to sidestep the question of belief, for Hazleton, or to commit to a wishy-washy moral framework. It is instead to have enough backbone to stand firm in the liminality of uncertainty. She wants readers to give agnosticism a fair shake, and many will be convinced by her appealing voice and accessible prose. [em](Apr.) [/em]