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by William Egginton

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-231-14878-8
Publisher: Columbia Univ.

A literary rally to restore sanity in religion.

From the Crusades to the terrorist attacks of recent decades, the stories of religious beliefs gone awry that populate the history books are proof enough to “new atheist” authors like Christopher Hitchens that religion is the root of all evil. Egginton (The Theater of Truth, 2010, etc.), on the other hand, argues that fundamentalism, not religion, is to blame for acts of violence and political unrest, putting atheists and religious zealots on the opposite sides of the same extreme coin. The author deftly weaves history's greatest dialogues, like Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," with examples from contemporary popular culture, like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, to show how fundamentalism is a threat to world peace. He argues that once people accept that there is a "code of codes," or an underlying truth that negates opposing beliefs, they lose the heart of science, politics and even religion, which is skepticism. Digging deeper, Egginton cites the works of Christian philosophers like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine to suggest that scientific method and faith are not mutually exclusive. Citing statistics that prove just how many modern-day Christians believe in the Second Coming of Christ without condemning other religions and the vast numbers of Muslims who read the Koran without resorting to violence, the author brings to light a very different America than the one seen on television. He calls on saints and scientists alike to fight dogma—whether religious or scientific—with reason.

Scholarly readers who thought Hitchens’ God Is Not Great (2007) went too far will appreciate this temperate and thoughtfully researched look at religion.