Reviewed by: Dr. Joseph S. Maresca ______________________________________________
The author admits to the argument that complexity requires a designer. William Paley states in his "Natural Theology" that complexity does need design; therefore, there must be a G-d or a Divine Being. Dr. Benjamin Fein believes in a similar notion. The concept of a Supreme Being permeates Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other global religions. If we acknowledge the existence of a deity, the next logical question is as follows: Who created the deity ?
There are many unknown and perhaps unknowable aspects of life and the universe itself. Voltaire was a theist who believed that religion should be subordinated to reason. Examples of questions that have defied reason or a reasonable explanation are:
o What lies at the edge of the universe and beyond ? o What happens to human knowledge at the point of death? Is it recoverable through DNA? o Are there any unexplained miracles which could be attributed to a deity solely? o What preceded the Big Bang?
The book documents mathematicians of the Enlightenment and the respective contributions. o Rene Descartes believed that nominalism left space for God. o Isaac Newton believed that motion did not require a divine first mover. o David Hume rejected the designer argument for creation. o Rousseau believed in the primacy of reason. o Julian Offray de La Mettrie believed that the soul was a physical part of the brain. o Kant believed in an unconditional acceptance of the authority of reason. o Hegel developed Aristotle's concept of totality. pp. 33
The 10 Commandments, in part, provide a universal set of rules for humankind. Who can disagree with the following sets of guidelines?
Honor thy father and mother. (4th Commandment) Thou shall not kill. (5th Commandment) Thou shall not commit adultery. ( 6th Commandment) Thou shall not steal. (7th Commandment) Thou shall not bear false witness. (8th Commandment) Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife. (9th Commandment) Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's goods. (10th Commandment)
These rules permeate religious practice for Jews, Anglicans, Reformed Church, Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, Lutherans and others. The order of the Commandments may vary slightly depending upon religious practice. Can atheists disagree with the thrust of Commandments 4 to 10 ? How could societies operate without these rules or comparable ones?
Christ gave the famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew - Chapter 5). The "Blesseds" are appreciated by people of every faith, humanists, atheists and others. i.e.
o Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. o Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. o Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. o Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice for they shall be filled. o Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy. o Blessed are the pure of heart... o Blessed are the peacemakers... o Blessed are those who are persecuted because of justice for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Various hospital studies have documented the power of prayer in potential healing. 1) 2) 3)
Christ had a significant argument that activism for the kingdom of justice transcends all material concerns. Beasley Murray reviews 16 sayings and 18 parables of Jesus . He finds these inspiring. Christ decried the excesses of materialism when He advised the rich man to give up the riches and follow Him.
Mark 10:17-24 tells the tragic story of a wealthy young man who desired to follow Christ . Because he wanted eternal life, he asked Jesus what he must do to obtain it . Christ replied that he would have to shed all of his worldly goods. Then, the man left.
Christ had a strong sense of the division of Church and State when He stated: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's". Jesus was recognized by religions and peoples outside Rome and Israel. JESUS is alive with G-d . 4)
Overall, the author gives a fair recitation of the beliefs of atheists and agnostics. He recognizes key questions which remain unanswered for atheists. The presentation could lead to some very good debates between atheists and believers of every religious denomination. All of Geoff Crocker's arguments are protected by the United States Constitution.
Another strength of the book is that the author carefully respects the beliefs of others. There are millions of poor people throughout the world who have always been poor, are poor now and may be poor for the remainder of their lives. Why spoil a good thing if the poor can find comfort in a religious belief ? Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes" and is often referred to as :
"Religion is the opiate of the masses" according to Karl Marx.
In addition, many terminally ill patients can remain calm and easy to manage medically up to the point of death. This may be due to their unshakable religious beliefs. Why marginalize a belief system that comforts a person just about to die ?
1. Hodge, D.R. 2007. A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature on Intercessory Prayer. Research on Social Work Practice 17: 174-187.
2. Byrd, R.C. 1988. Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population. Southern Medical Journal 81: 826-829. [online paper]
3. Harris, W.S., Gowda, M., Kolb, J.W., Strychacz, C.P., Vacek, J.L., Jones, P.G., Forker, A., O’Keefe, J.H., and McCallister, B.D. 1999. A Randomized, Controlled Trial of the Effects of Remote, Intercessory Prayer on Outcomes in Patients Admitted to the Coronary Care Unit. Arch Intern Med. 159:2273-2278. [PDF version]