Out of God's Closet: This Priest Pyschologist Chooses Friendly Atheism
by Stephen Frederick Uhl, Ph.D
Golden Rule Publishers, Oro Valley, Arizona, 2009, 190 PP, paper
by Ila Deluca
A handful of books have magnetism attached to them; Out of God's Closet is one such. A truly rare book destined to become a mind-opening work, perhaps even a classic in its field, this little book stimulates thinking and coaxes the reader to go back to it again and again. A book that answers hard questions in plain English, this story of one man’s journey from power and arrogance to an everyday teacher and psychologist raises the spirit and warms the heart with its pragmatism and humor.
This is no ordinary recital of a priest become an angry, ordinary citizen. Quite the opposite. Dr. Uhl’s story is of an intelligent, highly educated and positively humorous man who thought his life was progressing nearly perfectly. But then a reckoning with St. Thomas of Aquinas about proof of God’s exisence, followed by a near-fatal car wreck, contributed to an epiphany which resulted in his leaving the priesthood with all its perks.
This is not as dispassionate as it may sound. Nor is it imbued with mysterious religious tenets. Dr. Uhl explores such subjects as why most people believe in God, does God exist, is religion harmful to society, can faith lead to extremes, practical atheism, life without God in the United States, and the Golden Rule; then he offers a new set of “Ten Commandments” for the 21st century. His writing has a clarity and power that will almost certainly touch virtually everyone who reads his work. It reveals a passionate insider’s look at how much joy can result from leaving a life of child-like credulity and choosing mature independence. For this sensitive man, it was like the sun coming up to reveal the most wondrous marvels of this natural life, the one life that the author writes and works to make better.
He tells it as it was and is; he does this with no anger but with a very refreshing sense of humor. The book’s chapters move at a quick pace that give the reader trouble putting it down. A book with enduring interest, this is not one that will soon become obsolete. Rather, its sentences will be underlined, its pages dog-eared, its margins full of the reader’s comments and its contents referred to over and over again. This little book (184 pages) is an extraordinary stimulant for thinking and questioning for anyone not afraid to have his or her early convictions challenged, from the serious theist to the agnostic or the atheist.
Have you ever wondered about mysterious supernatural mysteries and have been dissatisfied with so many of the pat answers given by believing theists? “We’re not supposed to know now, but someday we will.” “You just have to have faith.” “ Pray for grace, then you’ll be able to accept that which you don’t now understand.” Here is acceptable proof for the thinking person that the best classical arguments for supernatural mysteries are full of holes filled with superstition. Reading this book will leave you wiser. It will either reinforce your beliefs and make you feel good, or shake up your thinking and allow you to explore your convictions and do even more thinking.
Out of God's Closet stresses the truth that we all learn facts and unlearn nonfacts at different rates, according to our very personal insights and experiences. The book ends with the hope that the understanding of these differences will help unite a pluralistic society that reflects such different insights and developmental rates. Then, really following a modified Golden Rule, we will continue more joyfully to help each other benefit from our experiences in this real world together.
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