God is Not One - Stephen ProtheroRate this book. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, dizzying scientific and technological advancements, interconnected globalized economies, and even the so-called New Atheists have done nothing to change one thing: our world remains furiously religious. For good and for evil, religion is the single greatest influence in the world. We accept as self-evident that competing economic systems capitalist or communist or clashing political parties Republican or Democratic propose very different solutions to our planet's problems. So why do we pretend that the world's religious traditions are different paths to the same God?
God Is Not One by Stephen Prothero
God Is Not One
I n one of his letters, CS Lewis repeats the story of an earnest atheistical school teacher instructing her young charges that all forms of animal life derived from the higher apes, under the impression that she was teaching them Darwinism. The anecdote is probably too good to be true, but it is a reminder that in any decently reasonable argument it helps to know what exactly it is that is being attacked or defended. And this is what Rupert Shortt demands for Christian theology. Argument over: the idea of God cannot function so as to avoid an infinite regress, so the religious case falls to the ground. But Shortt points out that, whether or not you accept the argument in anything like this form and he notes that recent analytical philosophers of religion have found some plausible ways of restating it , the secular advocate has misunderstood a basic point. The claim made by religious philosophers of a certain kind is not that God can be invoked to plug a gap, but that there must be some fundamental agency or energy which cannot be thought of as conditioned by anything outside itself, if we are to make sense of a universe of interactive patterns of energy being exchanged.
Here are some of the high points in Prothero's express train ride through the religions. His valid insights into these different "ways" takes away some of the sting of his view of religions as rivals. Whereas the nineteenth and twentieth centuries may have belonged to Christianity, the twenty-first is in the hands of Islam with its mix of fundamentalists, moderates, and Sufi mystics. For Muslims the problem is pride, and the solution is submission. Conservatives dominate Christianity with evangelicals and Pentecostal influences still exerting their power and presence. For these believers and others the problem is sin, and the solution is salvation.
In , Stephen Prothero (professor of religion at Boston University) wrote a book called Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to.
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This is a powerfully-written, paradigm-shifting book. How religious differences can be a bridge of cooperation rather than a bomb of destruction is one of the most important challenges of our era, and Prothero is as good a guide as you will find. On my last visit to Jerusalem, I struck up a conversation with an elderly man in the Muslim Quarter. As a shopkeeper, he seemed keen to sell me jewelry. As a Sufi mystic, he seemed even keener to engage me in matters of the spirit.
Prothero says that the essence of each religion is profoundly different. What religions do have in common is a conviction that there is something wrong with the world. For Christianity, the problem is sin. For Islam, it is pride. For Buddhism, it is suffering. For Judaism, it is evil. Each religion offers a solution to what ails the world.