What is the DISSENT OF MAN about?

Monday, 11 May 2015


Hello,

I just read the paragraph below that rounded off a review of Karen Amstrong's new book, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. It looks like the book itself is full of Amstrong's usual hand-waving and glibness with fact, but it's an interesting criticism of this genre of book in general, and includes Dawkins in that mix, 

"A balance-sheet of the harms and benefits attributable to religion in general over the past four thousand years has its uses, no doubt, but it does not touch on the ways in which religious ideas enter into people’s thought-processes, and provide them with reasons for all sorts of action, sometimes cruel and sometimes kind. When it comes to evaluating religion, social history is not enough, and neither is natural science. Religions have their reasons, after all, and they call not for blanket endorsement or condemnation but for close and detailed intellectual engagement of a kind that neither Dawkins nor Armstrong seem ready to provide." 

I've highlighted in bold the passage that strikes a chord with me and if I was put to justify the DISSENT OF MAN in the briefest terms, it would be along those lines. 

Dear reader, let's get DISSENT OF MAN published so that between us we can say that there is at least one book out there that does seek to investigate how, "religious ideas enter into people’s thought-processes" without "blanket endorsement or condemnation". Doesn't that sound like a worthwhile effort?

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Thank you,

Julian
Edinburgh, 11 May 2015
 

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