Givens, Nathaniel, Givens, Terryl L.

Into the Headwinds: Why Belief Has Always Been Hard―and Still Is


A deeper look at how people individually and collectively form religious beliefs—and what that means for faith in an increasingly secular culture.

Secularism is increasingly a fact of life in Western society. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that faith is harder than it has been before. Even in the past when organized religion enjoyed more widespread cultural acceptance, there were still obstacles to true belief. Today, the obstacles are different, but faith is still viable.

Acclaimed author Terryl Givens and his son, Nathaniel Givens, combine their respective areas of expertise to offer a fresh take on religious belief through the lens of contemporary research on psychology, cognition, and human nature. They also address two of faith’s foremost modern-day antagonists: rationalism, the myth that humans can or should make the majority of their choices based on logical thought, and scientism, the myth that science is the only reliable means of discovering truth. After reckoning with the surprising fact that people often don’t even understand their own beliefs and are influenced in ways they seldom perceive, the authors go on to describe genuine faith as an act of will—an effortful response to the deepest yearnings of the mind and heart—that engenders moral responsibility, the ability to embrace uncertainty, the motivation and means to relate to others, and the capacity to apprehend reality through nonrational means.

Written for truth seekers who may or may not belong to religious communities, Into the Headwinds is less a work of apologetics than an inquiry into the role that faith can and does still play in a society where participation in institutional religion is declining precipitously. Terryl and Nathaniel Givens propose that to reclaim the power of genuine faith we need to first acknowledge the reality that religious belief is hard. It always has been, and it always will be. But perhaps, instead of a hindrance, that is its most important aspect.


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“Headwinds, by definition, oppose the forward motion of an object, usually a plane or boat. Faced with this phenomenon, we need skill to overcome the challenge. Like skilled sailors, Terryl Givens and Nathaniel Givens tack into the winds—in this case, those that challenge religious commitments in a scientific and largely secular age. Their careful and informed navigation takes the reader on a journey that engages contemporary scholarship and thought, and which enables arrival at a destination of faith. As their discussion demonstrates, while belief may at times be hard, secularism’s tempest can be successfully traversed. This book is an informative lighthouse showing the way.”
— John W. Morehead, director of Multifaith Matters and of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy

“In an age of so-called secularism and skepticism, the authors skillfully guide the reader back to the heart of faith: a risky, vulnerable response to life that will certainly lead us into unknown lands, and quite possibly to a greater measure of love. I highly recommend this book for all who wish to know themselves at a deeper level or for all those who feel the call of the Unknown drawing them toward more beautiful horizons.”
— Thomas Wirthlin McConkie, Founder, Lower Lights School of Wisdom

About the Author

Terryl Givens is a Neal L. Maxwell Senior Fellow at Brigham Young University. He formerly held the University of Richmond’s Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, where he was professor of literature and religion. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, including All Things New, The God Who Weeps, and The Crucible of Doubt.

Nathaniel Givens has been published in First Things, the Deseret News, and RealClearReligion on the topics of faith and politics. With graduate degrees in economics and systems engineering, he is a data analyst and entrepreneur currently working with an international startup.

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Weight 1 lbs