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The Case for Religion


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Table of Contents

Contents include: 1. Religion and the Transcendent 2. Sick Men's Dreams? 3. The Sigh of the Oppressed 4. Voices from the Unconscious 5. Rhythms of the Spirit 6. Children of Abraham 7. The Way to Enlightenment 8. The Second Revolution 9. The Dreams of Reason 10. Matters of Morality 11. Many Paths, One Goal? 12. Indras's Net

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A brilliant and accessible rebuttal of The God Delusion from one of Christianity's most incisive thinkers

About the Author

Keith Ward is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and a fellow of the British Academy. A well-known-author and broadcaster, his work straddles the boundaries between science, religion, and philosophy. He is author of God: A Guide for the Perplexed, also by Oneworld.


Author, scholar and former Oxford don Ward uses his broad knowledge to make the argument for religion as a necessary and reasonable exercise for humans who are aware of the transcendent. He examines what major figures in other disciplines-anthropology, sociology and psychology-have historically said about why humans practice religion. He then briskly sketches the world's major religions and reviews the effect of the European enlightenment on religion, showing how it gave rise to historical and critical thinking and the valuing of experience as a means of knowing. Religion is too persistent, pervasive, positive and profound to be merely foolish, he suggests, but to fail to acknowledge the possibilities it contains for destruction is "a failure of spiritual perception of the first order." Ward is prodigiously well read, moving easily from Sumerian creation accounts to German philosophy to contemporary English philosopher John Hick. He is understandably better at the history of Western ideas than of developments within non-Western traditions, but is always aware that religion is historically a universal practice and now a global reality. In today's "increasingly self-aware global community of communities," the Anglican priest concludes, a coexistence of diverse faith traditions can provide religious leadership toward "human flourishing." Ward's previous book (God: A Guide for the Perplexed) was chattier and more accessible. By comparison, this book is not for the casual reader, but is ideal for serious students of religion who aren't afraid of philosophy. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

John Hick - University of Birmingham, author of 'Philosophy of Religion'"Brilliant, highly readable, and genuinely illuminating. This is a book both for the religious and for those who regard themselves as non-religious, and each will find fascinating surprises in it."Professor Dr Hans Kung - University of Tubingen"All those who know Keith Ward's work will be eager to read his book on such an urgent issue in our time: the ongoing importance of religions despite their failings."Publishers Weekly - "Ideal for serious students of religion."Spectator - "Professor Ward will convince most reasonable readers that human nature would be poorer if the religious impulse were denied. He puts into more intelligent words than most of us could muster what it is which would be lost if we all became material atheists."

Two well-established authors attempt to define religion in these books, which represent the summation of their long careers. Religion is difficult to define, and neither author offers a fully satisfactory explanation. Both admit that to include the transcendent and supernatural in a definition of religion is to invite ambiguity and vagueness; nevertheless, they accept the idea of a transcendent reality. In the last 20 years, scholars in the field of the cognitive study of religion have limited their subject to human activities, and yet Stark's book, despite it sociological stance, shows little awareness of the cognitive study of religion. Best known for his One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism, Stark (sociology of religion, Baylor Univ.) here offers a collection of previously published articles that have been edited to provide some loose connection to one another. The topics discussed include magic and science, asceticism, faith and gender, revelations, and the unchurched. He is fond of using statistical models to prove historical arguments, but his reasoning is often not convincing. Ward (retired divinity professor, Oxford Univ.; God: A Guide for the Perplexed) presents an apologetic for the practice of religion, including ecumenical Christianity and a general blend of world religions. He shows the interrelationships among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and expresses hope that all world religions can find common ground. Ward's book is particularly valuable because it consists of a large catalog of scholars who disagree with his definition of religion and offer evidence that religion is a human activity; he includes summaries of the work of James Frazer, E.B. Tylor, Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and many others. Both books are appropriate for theological libraries.-James A. Overbeck, Atlanta-Fulton P.L. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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