For the Glory of God challenges numerous assumptions about how religion affected the course of history. As a professor of Sociology and Comparative Religions at the University of Washington, Rodney Stark (The Rise of Christianity) has a unique ability to write like a chatty social scientist while delving into complicated theories on religion and history. Here he shows how beliefs in God--whether it was through the filter of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam--provoked and fuelled human history. Of course most readers won't argue with his evidence that religious fervour influenced the witch hunts. But readers may be surprised by Stark's assertion that the persecution of witches actually had more to do with the conflicts between the world's major religions than the oppressive beliefs of fanatical clergy or sexist men.
Stark also asserts that the same religious leaders who were the first to persecute witches were also the first to take a stand against slavery. And, contrary to many historical theories, Stark claims that religion may have been the driving force behind the emergence of modern science. Stark's fascinating conclusions may rile conventional historians. Indeed, Stark was dismayed to discover how many historians "dismiss the role of religion in producing 'good' things such as the rise of science or the end of slavery, and the corresponding efforts to blame religion for practically everything 'bad'." While certainly biased in defence of religious beliefs, especially Christianity, Stark offers a respectable and intelligent argument for church leaders, theologians and maybe a few history buffs to ponder. --Gail Hudson, Amazon.com
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