Two Books On Religion, even one by and Atheist

First, from here:

After a spate of atheist-authored books decrying religion, along comes the contrarian An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion than Without It.  Atheist author Bruce Sheiman reminds us of what many sociologists of religion have been proving for some years: that religion helps people live happier and healthier lives by giving them meaning and purpose; and it benefits society enormously, by establishing food closets and hospitals and rescue missions and what not. As the subtitle says, all told, humanity is better off as a result of religion.

The question, though, is whether Christianity will be better off as a result of this well-meaning book.

Christianity is indeed a religion, and a pretty good religion at that, apparently—over 2 billion people identify with it in one way or another. Still, as a religion, Christianity is very much a human enterprise. Like all religions, it tries to understand the human situation transcendentally, but as a religion, it remains a social phenomenon we can study.

And then here:

In a recent New York Times review of Robert Wright’s new book “The Evolution of God,” the critic quips: “There is something here to annoy almost everyone.”

Which explains why a religion writer would find the book so compelling. There’s nothing worse for a journalist trying to gain a better understanding of religion than to read a sugar-coated monument to a faith. Sugar-coated Wright’s tome is not. He takes a decidedly skeptical view of religion as he recounts some of humankind’s earliest concepts of God, the emergence of monotheism among the ancient Israelites (which ultimately became Judaism) and the development of the world’s largest religions today: Christianity and Islam.

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