Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Faith Matters” as Want to Read:
Why Faith Matters
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why Faith Matters

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  257 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews

Why Faith Matters is an articulate defense of religion in America. It makes the case for faith and shows its relationship to history and science. Refuting the cold reason of atheists and the hatred of fanatics with a vision of religion informed by faith, love, and understanding, Rabbi David J. Wolpe follows in a literary tradition that stretches from Cardinal Newman to C.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by HarperOne (first published September 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Faith Matters, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Faith Matters

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 29, 2009 Walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabbi David Wolpe has written an important (if a tad uneven) book. Why Faith Matters is full of piercingly compelling insights about faith, about religion and our pracitice of it and about the interplay of these two forces in our lives. Its tone is respectful and present in the sense that you perceive the author so open, so willing to dialogue that it is almost that he is listening to your questions and/or objections as he writes. (In fact, he takes on many of the most obvious objections to his ...more
J.J. Richardson
The book was very well written, and was an engaging read all the way through. That said, this book is a "soft sell" to general monotheism and doesn't single out or criticize any specific religion as better or worse. It is told from the viewpoint of a Rabbi who does use the Judeo-Christian worldview to evaluate the question of why faith matters. He makes a great case for general belief in God and Religion as a whole, but I thought he was pretty soft on his affirmation of proofs, stating he didn't ...more
Nov 09, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
A short, beautiful book about the power and promises of faith. I have previously read Rabbi Wolpe's book Teaching Your Children About God, and I very much liked his kind, gentle tone. In this book, the author takes on those who are called 'The New Atheists': Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, and attempts to answer their most strident criticisms about religion and faith by shining a bright light on their most powerful arguments. Does religion cause violence? Is religion irrat ...more
David Abramowitz
Mar 28, 2011 David Abramowitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolpe is an excellent apologist for faith, which I say without sarcasm. However, he is too quick to use "religion", "faith" and "spirituality" interchangeably, as other reviewers have noted. For the most part, he is intellectually honest and makes no outright claims to have God's ear. Yet, he sometimes white-washes the horrors of religion by paying them due with unstirring language. He talks about the friction caused by zealotry, rather than calling it sadistic and perverted. Then a few pages la ...more
As an answer to writers like Harris and Hitchens and Dawkins [oh my!], "Why Faith Matters" seems a tad mild. Rabbi Wolpe seems to have decided to fight fire with yogurt. I think he recognizes that Faith doesn't win people over through intricate arguments, so much as through stories, metaphors, and life experience.

That's not to say he isn't a smart man, but he certainly doesn't compare to Hitchens in terms of intellectual rigor and literary verve. Coming in at under 200 pages, Wolpe is really on
Jarkko Laine
I first picked this book after watching a debate video of David Wolpe debating Christopher Hitchens (I think). Wolpe seemed like one of the most levelheaded proponents of religion I had heard talk and I wanted to know more about his ideas.

In that sense, the book matched my expectations: Wolpe's Jewish faith is a definitely a philosophy that leads to good in this world. But as the book claims to be a response to the critics of religion, one can expect more than beautiful stories and anecdotes. Un
I read this book with what I consider its inverse companion: Christopher Hitchens' "God is not Great." I must say, it wasn't a fair fight. Hitchens, as he did in a real-life debate, absolutely smashes Wolpe's mousy little arguments to fine dust.

The writing itself is horribly, terribly amateur. If this was intentional, it was deplorable. MAKE me spring for a dictionary as a result of you selecting a perfect wording or phrasing to sell a point.

Speaking of points, no new ground is covered her, and
Dec 28, 2013 Bobby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I have yet read arguing in defense of faith. Rather than arguing with certainty about the truthfulness of scripture, Rabbi Wolpe explains that regardless of its truth, it helps people to lead better, more fulfilling lives, and is therefore necessary. A problem I have is that he describes fanaticism or extremist religion as a perversion of faith. But I don't understand what gives him the authority over any other Hebrew/Koranic scholar who comes up with a different interpreta ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent discourse on and defense of religion (general rather than specific to Judaism). I am interested in the question, and I think you must be to truly appreciate the book, and enjoyed reading this rabbi's perspective as a man who first rejected then embraced his faith. It felt genuine and I was interested especially in the discussion of religion's historical place in war.

That said, it seems directed toward a niche reader and would have benefited from more of the personal anecdotes (whi
Jun 18, 2013 Yusra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the premise of this book and the simple, thoughtful way Rabbi Wolpe fleshed out his arguments. However, the choppy writing style made it hard to get through. I think it is important and necessary to have this discussion within our religious communities, especially with the way religion vs science is presented in academia.
Alicia Kachmar
Aug 09, 2013 Alicia Kachmar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thought-provoking. The author, who is a rabbi, looks at questions like: where does religion come from, does religion cause violence, does science disprove religion? Also takes on how suffering/disease can enrich life, free will, morality, and the failure of reason.

Lots of interesting quotes from Einstein, Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Paul Tillich, Hitchens, Browning.

Dec 09, 2008 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very nice book that will make you feel good. (Unless you are an atheist, in which case it will annoy you.) It will not convince a skeptic but there are a lot of good anecdotes and analogies. I especially like the tapestry analogy. And I think the author's main thesis is correct, even if some of his arguments are not.
Simcha Wood
My main gripe with this book is that it feels underwritten. Rabbi Wolpe covers a lot of ground in his argument for the continuing necessity of faith in the modern world. However, while the book is studded with little gems of insight, they are too often simply left behind without any substantial explication. The result is a book that, overall, feels a bit light intellectually.

I suspect, in part, this may simply have to do with the audience Wolpe has in mind. The book, while smart, seems to be wri
Aug 10, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rabbi Wolpe has done a good job of explaining why faith matters. Having lost his faith early (after seeing "Night and Fog"), he found his way back. He has debated with noted atheists such as Stephen Jay Gould and gives atheists their due. In writing about religion, he is correct that religion happens everywhere--in homeless shelters, on the subway. Religion and faith (which are somewhat different) is a call to that which is holy in the other words that which is not explained by scienc ...more
Nov 21, 2011 Cecile rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoyed the book for the most part, I did find his writing a bit troublesome to follow occasionally. But that might have just been me.

I am a spiritual person, but I find organized religion a bit much to take. I agreed with many of his comments, especially when he spoke of religion being used by some more as an extension of who they are than anything else.

When I do visit a church, the one I've chosen to attend is an exemplary version of spiritual community. I rarely stay after the ser
Sep 01, 2011 Gianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, reviewed
I found this a simple but fascinating point of view. It is highly readable, even from the lens of someone without faith. He formerly was a turned-atheist and then return to Judaism and became a rabbi, and I enjoyed his thoughts and questions during those times. And that also helped him to see from an atheist standpoint, and speaks a little like such.

Wolpe has a very gentle way of approaching certain issues, although while he refers to the major monotheistic religions, one can feel that he has a
Ken Roebuck
Jul 26, 2011 Ken Roebuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most level headed discourse to date on the role of religion in America and the current debate with the new atheists. As a former atheist himself and now a practising Rabbi DJ Wolpe makes a personal and rational case for the importance of faith in God as expressed by Jews, Christians and Muslums in sustaining humanity and our modern society as well as in our personal spiritual lives. Ultimately why faith matters is because our relationships to others and to God matters to us deeply an ...more
This is a very "Jewish" book in that it raises as many questions as it answers, and it does not offer facile solutions to the most perplexing and prevalent problems. Which is exactly what I loved about it. If you want to discover the meaning of the universe or why bad things happen to good people, look elsewhere. But it you want to explore where these questions can lead you, you've come to the right place. That's about the best that anyone can do, and the author does an admirable job of presenti ...more
Nov 09, 2008 Sherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sherie by: tavis smiley
Tavis Smiley interviewed Rabbi Wolpe and I couldn't wait to read this book. It may not sway the atheists in the crowds, but that's only because they will probably not read it. For anyone who has had their faith tested and feels like they are hanging by a thread, this is a great book to read. It does not strive to "prove" anything, simply to put one's faith in a different light. Tangible things seem to be what the nay-sayers cling to in their disbelief. How good it is to read over and over that f ...more
Mike de la Flor
This book is touted as defense of religion in America. It is in fact a collection of old, long-refuted arguments for the existance of God (Fine tuning, Cosmological), poorly researched science (persistent misrepresentations of biology and cosmology), and tiresome Bible-thumping sprinkled with personal religious anecdotes. This book is not original in the least and clearly targets the uninitated theist.
Jan Pliler
Feb 17, 2009 Jan Pliler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most profound and well presented discussions on the importance of faith in life and it's impact. A must read by all who want to expand their understanding of faith's purpose in a broader sense beyond that of maintaining context within your own religious culture. I probably could have highlighted nuggets of pure truth on each page. Fabulous!!!!
Rabbi Wolpe won the debate when he brought us a heaping plate of food during the first reception. Oh please, David, you had me at "Can I get you some food..."

While I'm not sure he won the debate (can you ever?) and he sure as heck didn't change my mind on the subject (can you ever?) he was very very sweet man and pleasure to meet.
Elizabeth  Fuller
The flip side to Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," which I'm also reading and would give the same rating to. Both authors explain their own convictions well but probably won't change anyone else's mind.
Jul 18, 2010 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
It's difficult for me to rate/review this book. I wanted to like it, and I did like it very much in the early sections. However when Wolpe went so far as to claim that agnostics and atheists cannot have lives as fulfilling as theists or be (as) moral, he both disappointed and lost me.
Miss Lasko-Gross
The writing was competent but I had hoped for something a little more sophisticated. To summarize the book (and it's "answer" to the titular question) Faith must matter because without it the world is a scary, random and cruel place, where unpunished evil and meaningless suffering occur.

Jan 16, 2010 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolpe went from Judaism to Atheism and returned to Judaism and is considered one of the most influential rabbis of our time. a great read.
Michelle Easton Williams
fantastic book!!
I give it a 3 because It lacks emphasis on the personal relationship with Jesus where we get our daily conviction and revelation.
Dec 13, 2012 Straton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant argument for belief. A shellacking to atheism. An amazing rationale to religious involvment.
Feb 14, 2009 Larry is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a very articulate Rabbi who expounds on his belief on the human need for same.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters
  • A Rabbi Talks with Jesus
  • The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith
  • Sister Wendy on Prayer
  • Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith
  • The Promise: God's Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts
  • The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca
  • Just Jesus: My Struggle to Become Human
  • The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life
  • Why Catholics are Right
  • The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus
  • Seeking Enlightenment... Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Guide to Religion
  • The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
  • The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning
  • If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Grace Series, #1)
  • There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
  • Saying Kaddish: How to Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead, and Mourn as a Jew
  • The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam

Share This Book

“We are not physical creatures having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual creatures having a physical experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin” 0 likes
More quotes…