Books on Religion
- Huston Smith, The World's Religions, HarperSanFrancisco,
1991, 391 p.
- James Wiggins, In Praise of Religious Diversity
- Walter Conser and Sumner Twiss, eds., Religious Diversity
and American Religious History,
- Alice Calaprice, The Quotable Einstein, Princeton,
1996, 269 p.
I list this book here because it discusses Einstein's views on religion. In
spite of the highly-selected, pro-theistic quotes that have been attributed
to him, Einstein was at best a deist who repeatedly said that he did not believe
in a deity who concerned himself with human affairs.
- Lawrence A. Young (ed.), Rational Choice Theory and Religion,
Summary and Assessment, Routledge, 1997, 187 p.
Several articles about Rational Choice theory and how it can explain many
of the social aspects of religion, such as church attendance in different
cultures. An interesting perspective, but one I have not seen discussed elsewhere.
- Stephen Jay Gould, Rock of Ages: Science and Religion
in the Fullness of Life, Ballantine, 1999, 241 p.
Gould wants to convince us that the worlds of science and religion are NOMA
(non-overlapping magisteria). His arguments are competely unconvincing, in
my view. First, his view of religion as being completely divorced from empirical
foundation is not one that will endear him to religious people (he is an atheist,
in any case), most of whom believe that religion has something to say about
the world as it is. Second, he takes the view that only religion can deal
in matters of ethics. This is a surprising statement, considering the work
that has been done in this area by philosophers, ethical and legal scholars
and, recently, evolutionary biologists.
- John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science:
The Terry Lectures, Yale, 1998, 133 p.
Polkinghorne is an ex-particle physicist and a retired Anglican minister,
so naturally I'm interested in what he has to say. Although this is a short
book, it does require one's full attention since he is a subtle and careful
writer. He makes intriguing points, though I find fault with several of his
- John Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist, Princeton,
1994, 211 p.
Well, of course I had to get this book, him being an ex-particle physicist
and all. His mission here is to make Christianity palatable to people who
actually try to apply reason to such things. This a very dense book,
not for the faint of heart.
- James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door (3rd ed.), InterVarsity,
1997, 237 p.
This book purports to compare the various world religions, but in the end
it is just another Christian apologia. Many parts of the book are interesting
to read, however. For one thing, he examines New Age religions and postmodernism
(with an appropriately Christian tsk, tsk).
- Karen Armstrong, A History of God, Ballantine, 1993,
This book shows how the three semitic religions, Judaism, Christianity and
Islam, grew from their common roots and how mankind's conception of God changed
over time. The book is good in many parts, but very detailed, so much
so that the details get in the way of the argument.