The 2013 Science, Religion, and History group read discussion thread
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Last year, a few of us have gotten together quarterly to read a book about science, religion, and/or history. This thread is for discussing the books that we plan on reading. Anybody is welcome to join.
Ok, so we taking nominations for February's book, and the one we've discussed so far is Phil Zuckerman's Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion. We're still open to nominations if anyone else would like to suggest something? I'll leave nominations open a few more days to make sure everyone has had time to consider...
Well, I'd mentioned Among the Creationists before, so I'll toss it in the pot here too.
I would also be interested in both. Since this is supposed to be a quarterly read, I propose we read something small so we can get back on the quarterly track. So: a two-month read, February and March. Something short and not too dense.
Among the Creationists is 272 pages.
Zuckerman's book is 240 pages.
(By comparison, Wilson's book is 326 pages, 297 sans endnotes.)
Being academic books, both are probably saddled with footnotes and bibliography and hence shorter than they appear.
What do you think? A short book? If so, anyone have recommendations for a short two-month read?
Haha! Actually Jonathan, we STARTED this group on an off-month and never bothered trying to change to an on-month. If this lopsidedness bothers people, we could change though. It makes very little difference to me. :)
Oh! I assumed we got off-kilter somewhere along the way, perhaps by a giant tome that everyone needed an extra month for. In that case, never mind. Lopsidedness does not bother me.
I think either book named above would be great. (I know, that does not help us decide!)
Heh, I'm actually happy with the slightly skewed cycle, since there are a bunch of other things that tend to happen more precisely on the quarters. I certainly wouldn't object to a short book in any case, though! I'd like to get back on the bandwagon with these eventually, if I can ever get through my existing book backlog at least a little bit.
Zoe, perhaps you could recommend a book on science, history, and religion in the ancient world. Then you could delight us with your advanced learnings. :)
Heh :). One that I put on the suggestion list a while ago is The Greeks and the Irrational, which is extremely famous but which I haven't yet read; I'd think that a book challenging the standard view of the Greeks as super-rational would have something to say about science and religion.
I might like to join in this discussion even if I'm not going to read 75 books in 2013.
You're welcome to join us Robert! :)
Another book that I was interested in was Religion for Atheists, by Alain de Botton. Though I got the impression last year that some people had already read it.
I've never read any of his books. That one looks interesting too. So many books...
12: I haven't read it, but I've heard enough about it not to be especially interested.
12> That one looks very interesting.
(For what it's worth, it's the most pages at 320, but the cheapest at BD of the three.)
I'm not sure you can say our group has THAT much history. Last February, while we (in the 75ers group) were reading God's Philosophers, by James Hannam, a few of us thought it might be fun to read a book in the science, religion, and/or history spectrum several times a year. In May, we read Religion Explained, by Pascal Boyer, in August we read The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance, by Jim All-Khalili, and in November we read The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson.
Our discussions haven't been very organized so far because we're allowing everyone an entire quarter for the book (instead of all reading it in one month), but maybe we can perk up the discussions by breaking them into section-by-section discussion threads. (I dropped the ball on that last time guys! Sorry! I was busy with my move).
We usually take nominations for a week or two, and then we vote...
I remember seeing the God's Philosophers group, and might have been interested if it hadn't been such a big book on such short notice. I also planned to participate in the House of Wisdom group, but only made it half way through the book. I've starred this thread and am happy to have found the place where these great group reads are being decided!
Me too - I ought to have suggestions to make too, but my brain seems to be disconnected at present thanks to my post-Christmas flu bug!
Your group sounds very interesting. I think I might like to give it a try too.
22: so would you extend The Social Conquest of Earth through March and start a new thread in this forum? Or give up on it. Or partially overlap it with a 1st quarter 2013 book?
23: I'd let the 2012 The Social Conquest of Earth thread stand as is, with posts added by anyone (such as me) who is still reading in January, choose a shortish book for February-March, then continue forth in standard quarters.
I agree with Katherine (qebo). I just finished Chapter 19 of The Social Conquest of Earth.
It's probably way too early to worry about this, but I think there will be problems in January 2014. There are always way too many good group reads starting in January.
I'm fine with 24, 25.
I'm still reading Social Conquest though I'm increasingly irritated with the undocumented assumptions. I think I'm in chapter 7.
Well, ok then. Here are our choices (prices from Book Depository)
Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion, by Phil Zuckerman ~$24.95; 240 pages
Among the Creationists, by Jason Rosenhouse ~$29.95; 272 pages
The Greeks and the Irrational, by E. R. Dodds ~$25.88; 325 pages
Religion for Atheists, by Alain de Botton ~$19.58; 320pgs
For this poll, you may vote yes for all books that you would like to read. Vote no for books that you wouldn't read. You can use undecided if you're not sure. :)
Vote: Do you want to read Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion
Current tally: Yes 5, No 2, Undecided 2
Vote: Do you want to read Among the Creationists
Current tally: Yes 6, No 1, Undecided 4
Vote: Do you want to read The Greeks and the Irrational
Current tally: Yes 5, No 4, Undecided 5
Vote: Do you want to read Religion for Atheists
Current tally: Yes 5, No 5, Undecided 3
Hate to be a spoil sport, but three no's and an undecided from me. Lots of religion, no hard science, history present only in The Greeks and the Irrational and since that one was published in 1951, the reviews say much of it is outdated although it has a rating over 4 stars and is a classic.
In addition, only one of the 4 is available in my library system.
I'm most interested in The Greeks and the Irrational, but I voted against it because I don't want to do it in a shortened period.
I should add that I didn't vote on any of the others; I'll most likely have to sit this one out, since I have a big backlog of books to get through.
Some other thoughts:
1. I don't know of a more recent update of The Greeks and the Irrational, so I think that one would still be useful.
2. If people want recent scholarship, would you be willing to read a collection of essays? It's often much easier to find new and worthwhile research there than in a synthetic treatment. For example, one that comes to mind is Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World.
3. I wonder whether we could plan out the whole year's reading in the next month.
38> That looks interesting, but...
Not available from BD.
Amazon.co.uk says 'Usually dispatched within 1 to 4 weeks.' Which in my experience often means that after a month they get back to you and say how sorry they are that they couldn't get it.
>39 MarthaJeanne: Yeah, this is a constant problem: the more serious books tend to be more expensive. That one at least can be found as a PDF, but it's an issue that we may have to address eventually. I think I'd personally prefer to do two works of real scholarship each year, instead of four popularizations, if it came down to it.
Also, out of curiosity:
Vote: I have access to a university library
Current tally: Yes 6, No 8
38: Seems too scholarly. Scholarly can be a fine thing, but this one would assume more background than I have.
Even if I am willing to buy it, I still have to order it in, and that one, I probably wouldn't get. If I did it would take a long time. (I won't order from the US, I've just had too many expensive hassles.)
The other vote you might want to try is whether or not people do e-books. I don't. I did access one book in a PDF recently, but I have printed out the parts I want to read. Not really a viable method for most books.
Vote: I am willing to read ebooks
Current tally: Yes 5, No 4, Undecided 5
Greeks and the Irrational is the one I voted undecided. I don't have enough psychology background to pick out the out-of-favor Freudian stuff from what is accepted today.
Among the Creationists may be interesting and seems to have the most science, but several of the reviews got my back up. I thought I read a published review saying that the author proves one cannot be Christian and an evolutionist.....which is, of course, like reading a book proving polar bears don't exist. I can't find that review, so perhaps it was a reader's review. I changed my vote to undecided but wish it was more available.
The other two seem like 'philosophy of religion' books. Are there aspects of science or history in them that I am too dense to see?
No access to a University library, but I do have access to the NIH library..... would probably have to have some aspect of hard science for it to be included there.
Perhaps a mix of popular and academic throughout the year? Are we limited to non-fiction?
Faith No More was billed as a sociological study of people who have lost faith. Whether sociology is a science or not could be debated, but I think that was the link that got it on the list.
45: I thought I read a published review saying that the author proves one cannot be Christian and an evolutionist
This sounds like the reviewer's opinion or interpretation, not the author's.
I have understood "science, religion, and history" more loosely than you do, and consider all of the proposed books to fall within its scope. I don't expect every book to include all three, and suppose belief vs non-belief books to be addressing the question of what role does / can religion play in an increasingly scientific world.
If there are people who definitely want to read a book this (shortened) quarter and who do not like any of the books on the list, we can certainly take another suggestion and add it to the vote.
I'd expect each book to include at least two of the three categories. I don't have a strong opinion about what constitutes science (or history, for that matter).
I could suggest Destiny of the Republic, since it has medicine AND history...though we've tended to focus on Medieval histories so far.
ETA: It's longer though! 432pages
Oh, the mention of medicine reminds me that The Ghost Map is one I've been meaning to read.
Vote: We should choose all four books at the beginning of the year
Current tally: Yes 3, No 9
Vote: Do you want to read Destiny of the Republic
Current tally: Yes 5, No 2, Undecided 2
Vote: Do you want to read The Ghost Map
Current tally: Yes 9, No 1, Undecided 2
(I know this one has largely been rejected already, but in the interests of being thorough we might as well have a poll for every book that's suggested)
Vote: Do you want to read Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World
Current tally: Yes 4, No 4, Undecided 3
In favour of advance selection of all books:
1) There's more time to acquire them
2) It's easier to balance all the elements (history, science, religion) among multiple books
3) Everyone will come away from it at least partially happy, even if an individual book doesn't appeal
1) We're having enough trouble choosing one book.
2) One book discussion may suggest further reading / alternatives.
3) Enthusiasm now may wane over nine months. (Anyone have formerly bright shiny books gathering dust on the shelves?)
Although planning is always fun, I HAVE liked the way we could finish up a book and say "that reminds me that I want to read something about..." I like the dynamics of choosing month-by-month. But that is just my humble opinion, and I'm fine with whatever the majority of people feel.
A new possibility:
Universe in a Single Atom: the Convergence of Science and Spirituality by the Dalai Lama.
We'll have some people choose not to read any book.
I wouldn't say a book has been rejected (or accepted) in a matter of hours after it was proposed...
ETA I had the title a bit wrong and the touchstones are wonky for me today, so here's the link:
...and now off to work to do some science :-)
I wouldn't want to choose all books in advance, since indeed new ideas might come up as we go along. However, I would say that choosing the books, say, a month or so before the new quarter starts would be useful. Would give time for discussing what books we want and gives people time to order them if they wish to join in.
As far as the choice of books is concerned, I had sort of assumed books would be about either of the topics (science, or religion, or history), so I don't mind if books don't cover all topics. It would be nice though to try and vary a bit, so, if we do choose a religion-themed book this quarter, to focus on science or history for the next quarter. And then people who aren't that interested in the books for one quarter could join in again the next quarter...
Anyway, I'm fairly open to book suggestions. I don't mind reading more 'hard' science, but also don't have any problem with reading more popular-science types of books. Since we're doing three-month reads I also don't mind longer works. And I also don't mind older works, I enjoy reading older science works since I find it really interesting to see how ideas have changed over time, so something like The Greeks and the Irrational I would find very interesting to read as well.
Vote: Do you want to read The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality
Current tally: Yes 6, No 2, Undecided 3
Sorry, Rachel there is no 'Science in a Single Atom'--I had the title wrong. The second one is correct.
Another thought: something about Freud and the history of psychology could lay the groundwork for a future read of The Greeks and the Irrational? I don't know any particular books to suggest, though.
BTW, I'm enjoying all the debate here. I think in some ways I'm more committed to the group read the harder we work to choose the best book.
>62 Britt84: I agree Britt. It's best to agree on a book early - we're running a bit late this quarter. But this book is planned for February, so we still have a little bit of time. :)
Just so that we're clear: The votes for books are now spread out into messages 30-33, 55-57, and 63. We'll keep the poll open for a few days so that everyone has time to vote.
Boy I've missed a lot. Did my votes. I'd like a moratorium on suggesting new books; it will only make the final voting uglier later on.
I also vote against choosing all the books now. I have enough of my 2013 reading planned out in group reads and 13 in 13 challenge. I'd like at least SOME room for spontaneity.
>70 JDHomrighausen: I'd like a moratorium on suggesting new books
I agree. This hasn't been an issue in the past. We've just closed the nomination period and started voting. We needed a little extra flexibility this time around because we have a bunch of new members. But for future votes, I think we should stop nominations when we open the poll.
Not to mention that we have that list of previously suggested books..... which I can't find the link to.
I don't think we've had a situation before where someone said they were unhappy with all the books that had been proposed, so it seemed reasonable to consider more. But I agree that we have enough now, at least if we only want to choose one.
Yeah, nominating/voting during the holiday season is a bit of a mess. Usually we have the book picked out earlier in the month. :) I think this time around, people may have been too busy to really pay a lot of attention to this thread. No problems with a little fuss sometimes. It happens. :)
For future reference, because otherwise I won't remember:
I read a couple of books critical of Freud last year.
The first, which I would recommend to this group for other reasons, is Feet of Clay by Anthony Storr. It is a look at the social psychology of cult leaders and gurus (in which category he includes Freud). It had a lot of really interesting insights into not only religious thinking but creativity in science and art as well.
The second is an anthology of critical essays about Freud edited by Frederick Crews, Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend. It's a pretty extensive debunking of much of Freud's work.
Thanks, aulsmith, for the suggestions on Freud. I've found your suggestions excellent, and have both copied onto my TBR spreadsheet.
I knew that when I made my post, I was tossing a stone into the pool. May I suggest next time having a specific date when nominations/discusssions are cut off--it gives the procrastinators (like me!) and those who are more infrequent visitors to LT a deadline to make suggestions without being surprised when things are suddenly cut off.
lilbrattyteen --re your question of prev discussed books: 2012 main thread (on the 75'ers threadbook) http://www.librarything.com/topic/133654
and the wiki: http://www.librarything.com/list/304/all/Ideas-for-%22Science-Religion-and-Histo...
I am very bad at shared reads, so I probably will just lurk, regardless of the final choice.
I will inject one comment though: I have recently read Among the Creationists and can say that the author does not prove that a person cannot be both Christian and an evolutionist.
On the contrary, Rosenhouse acknowledges that many Christians *do* accept evolution, and spends a little time talking about how some reconcile the two. He also talks about why he finds such reconciliations unsatisfactory, but his own misgivings are proof only of his own misgivings, and he does not present them as anything more.
28 (aulsmith): I'm increasingly irritated with the undocumented assumptions.
I’ve now read the first section (through chapter 11), so I’d be interested in your comments re irritations. On the book thread ( http://www.librarything.com/topic/143270)?
Well, it looks like The Ghost Map has won. :)
ETA: That was a big switch-over from our religion-themed original nominations, wasn't it?
I am fine with reading The Ghost Map, but I would like to make sure that the next book we read after it has a lot more emphasis on the religion aspect of this group read.
>>81 JDHomrighausen: I think the best way to make sure of that is to find us a dynamite book that covers all three areas--science, history and religion. I'm looking forward to your expertise--and we haven't had anything from the corner of the world where you spent last year.
Are we starting February 1st or in January?
I thought it was supposed to be February, for a compressed two-month read, and then we'd start the next one in April?
>82 streamsong: I thought the rule of thumb was two of three? Not all three in one book. A dynamite book that covers all three might be quite difficult to find, but there are lots of interesting books that cover just two. :)
Also, keep in mind, this is partially an organizational problem. New members didn't realize that we informally decided that we were going to have two of the three issues in each of the books that we choose. It would seem perfectly normal to suggest books that only contain one of the three. I'll make sure that's announced next time I open nominations. I'll try to think of some good books that have Science and Religion or History and Religion...but I don't think it's far-fetched to consider sociology a science for the purpose of nominations.
Ghost Map will be read through February and March, and we'll start another book in April. (That way people have time to finish up The Social Conquest of Earth.) Since this is a short quarter, I will open nominations the first week of February, leave it open for two weeks, and leave voting open for one week. That way, everyone knows what book we've chosen with enough time to get their hands on a copy. Does that work for everyone?
I agree that it would be really cool to read a book about Buddhism and science. I can think of two possible sources off the top of my head:
First, American lama B. Alan Wallace's books, in particular Contemplative Science and the edited volume Buddhism and Science.
Second, there is an organization called the Mind Life Institute; every year they get a bunch of distinguished scientists together to dialogue with the Dalai Lama on a particular topic. They seem to favor cognitive scientists and neuroscientists. Sometimes they publish transcripts of the conversations. I read Consciousness at the Crossroads, but that is probably dated. There is a list of the annual topics and publications on Wikipedia:
Personally one of my biggest interests is the sociology of religion, so I have no problem counting it as a science for the purposes of this group.
I lost the thread and missed the voting, but The Ghost Map sounds very interesting AND my library has it, so I'll order it to arrive around the first of February.
89: Intentionally short. We've got another three weeks of The Social Conquest of Earth if you care to join. You will probably have issues with it.
Last year’s general thread (with links to specific books): http://www.librarything.com/topic/133654
The Social Conquest of Earth is Nov 2012 – Jan 2013: http://www.librarything.com/topic/143270
Ghost Map will be Feb – Mar 2013, and doesn’t yet have a thread.
Other books (not yet decided) will be standard quarters.
It's getting to be time to set up a thread for Ghost Map, which a few people are about to read or reading already. I don't mind doing it, but this is Rachel's baby...
Haha! Well, I'm busy for the moment, so if you want to set up a thread, go for it. Otherwise, I'll get to it this weekend.
I've just received my copy of Ghost Map; I'll start reading once February comes around :)
I've got my copy from the library, and it looks like I'll be able to renew it when the time comes (not in high demand, imagine that! hehe) Looking forward to the shared read.
Humph. I put a hold on it several weeks ago and am still #3 of 3 holds. I guess I can always buy a copy if necessary.
The Ghost Map is one of my all-time favorite works of nonfiction so I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts about it.
Nominations for the quarter starting in April officially have opened. I will close nominations on the 22nd of February and will not accept nominations after that. So get them in on time! :)
I'll nominate Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future, by Michio Kaku. I think this is mainly a "theory of everything" book, but apparently he has some philosophical ruminations about God's role in parallel universes in here.
Also The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong
We should also include whatever were the runners-up last time.
I still haven't managed to get The Ghost Map from the library. It's looking like I'll just have to buy it.
My copy of Ghost Map is on it's way, so I'll be starting soon.
The Great Transformation is my 'to read' pile, so I'll second that.
I nominate Among the Creationists
It was on the list last time, and it looked so interesting that I read it. It looks at various ways of thinking about how humans got here (evolution, young Earth creation, old Earth creation, various attempts to meld Christian understanding with evolutionary theory) and critiques them both scientifically (the author is a mathematician) and philosophically. So it deals very well with science and religion. It tangentially deals with history by discussing the history of the development of various doctrinal points of view. I've read lots of atheists on creationism and this is the first book that I thought actually understood why evolution is such a problem for many Christians. (BTW, the footnotes and bibliography are excellent, the arguments are clear, and the author is excellent at distinguishing facts from his opinions. It's also short.)
So, I'd love to see the group read this and be able to discuss it with you.
105: I have it now, expect to get to it soonish regardless of the group, but I second your nomination.
Oops, I meant to order The Ghost Map to be sent to my library branch last week. Oh well, it will now be here by midweek next.
I like Karen Armstrong and haven't read The Great Transformation, so I'd love to read that.
I have a bit of a tentative suggestion, since I'm not quite sure if you would think it suitable for this group: Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. It's quite popular here in the Netherlands, and it's supposed to be about the science and history of memory and memory techniques, so I guess it goes for science and history. I just don't know if it's really 'serious' or more of a light read, or even more of a self-help type of book... Has anybody read it? Do you think it would be a good read for this group?
I love Moonwalking with Einstein and would recommend it to anyone, but not necessarily for this group--the history isn't really a major focus, so it's mostly just science.
Ok, let's leave it out of the suggestionlist then; I'll just read it on my own some time :)
I came across this book at the library - The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson. It looks fascinating, and wondered if any of you had read it, or would like to read it. It seems to be a quick read, but containing digestible bits of science history.
Here's one that I just read an interesting review of here on LT on a 75'er's thread: The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society by Brad S. Gregory.
I'd still be interested in the Universe in a Single Atom: the Convergence of Science and Spirituality by the Dalai Lama or one of lilbrattyteen's suggestions about eastern religion and science in post 86.
aulsmith, I like what you had to say about Among the Creationists. I have a problem spending $30 or so for a not very common book if no one has read it and can give a personal recommendation. But I would certainly take your word that it would make an interesting discussion.
And I think all the suggestions are great! They certainly add to my spreadsheet of books I'd like to read in the future.
I've read the first chapter of The Ghost Map. I'm sorry if I missed it, but do we have a separate thread for discussion?
PS I've actually been there. I have it starred now.
113: I read that last year, and it is quite fascinating. My major complaint was that it wasn't long enough, actually.
I have a full review posted, and having just skimmed it I am alarmed by the fact that I basically said all the exact same things in a more recently published review...hmmmmm...
118: Thanks, Stephen! I think I'll get The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments requested, even if this group doesn't read it. And I'm sure I read your review of it, and that's why it attracted my eye like it did! Thanks!
I just recently finished another book, Smoking Ears and Screaming Teeth, which is VERY similar in that it is a collection of historical science anecdotes, except it focuses on self-experimentation instead of 'beautiful' experiments. They are booth good, but I found Smoking Ears and Screaming Teeth to be much more satisfying...probably because it's a little bit longer. *Shrug*
My library has Smoking Ears and Screaming Teeth, and with a title like that, how could I pass it up? :) Glad to know it's worth reading.
I'm getting a little confused, so I thought I'd try to recap the books that are actually nominated for the Mar-Jun read. Please chime in if I missed a book you intended to nominate (or vice versa)
Among the Creationists by Jason Rosenhouse
Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion by Phil Zuckerman
The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong
The Unintended Reformation by Brad S. Gregory
The Universe in a Single Atom by the Dalai Lama
I'd like to include The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson in the list of possibilities. It covers 2/3 of the reading areas for this thread! 8>)
122: Thanks for the summary. Should be Apr-Jun. BTW, your praise of Among the Creationists got me to read it. I'd gotten anecdotes from his blog, but the book was a more organized presentation.
Okay, I made a couple of mistakes. Anything else missing?
Nominations so far for the Apr-Jun read:
Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future by Michio Kaku
Among the Creationists by Jason Rosenhouse
Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion by Phil Zuckerman
The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong
The Unintended Reformation by Brad S. Gregory
The Universe in a Single Atom by the Dalai Lama
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson
Nominations close Feb. 22. Only 8 days to go.
124: I really liked the way the arguments flowed from the personal encounters. It made what could have been dry philosophy pretty interesting. Though, when I went back through to take notes, it wasn't easy to figure out which chapters had which arguments. I think I'm going to buy it, so I can refer back to it more easily.
Unintended Reformation I will probably read in a year or two when it comes out in Paperback.
Ok, time to vote for the book everyone! I'll leave the vote open until the 2nd of March so that everyone has a chance to order the book in advance. You can vote for any or all of the books that you would read. Vote "No" if you definitely don't want to read a particular book.
Vote: Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future, by Michio Kaku
Current tally: Yes 7, No 4, Undecided 3
Vote: Among the Creationists, by Jason Rosenhouse
Current tally: Yes 8, No 5, Undecided 1
Vote: Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion, by Phil Zuckerman
Current tally: Yes 7, No 8
Vote: The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong
Current tally: Yes 10, No 5, Undecided 1
Vote: The Unintended Reformation, by Brad S. Gregory
Current tally: Yes 7, No 3, Undecided 1
Vote: The Universe in a Single Atom, by the Dalai Lama
Current tally: Yes 7, No 6, Undecided 3
Vote: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, by George Johnson
Current tally: Yes 5, No 6, Undecided 2
I just came across this book, which seems like it could be interesting at some future point: http://www.amazon.com/Empires-Faith-500-700-History-Medievl/dp/0199261261/ref=re...
I want to congratulate everyone on putting together such a distinguished array of books! My library has everything except Among the Creationists. Here's some data which may help with decision-making.
Book cost Kindle Amaz. rating LT rating pages
Parallel worlds 10.88 13.99 4.5 3.93 448
Among the Creationists 28.18 12.09 4.6 4.5 272
Faith No More 24.95 10.44 4.5 3.0 240
The Great TRansformation 11.53 12.99 4.2 4.27 592
The Unintended Reformation26.37 23.97 4.3 none 592
Universe in a Single Atom 10.17 12.99 4.6 4.07 224
10 most beautiful exper. 10.91 11.99 4.1 3.51 208
Thanks for posting the data, ronincats! It's really food for thought.
Among the Creationists, the highest ranked on LT, has only one reader review, 25 members claim it.
The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments has 10 reviews, 252 members claiming.
The one person who reviewed Among the Creationists really liked it, though!
138: not only did I really like it, but I think it is a good book for a group read because it discusses a lot of questions that different readers are going to have different answers to.
The only other info I might be interested in is page count. Has anyone read The Great Transformation, who can say whether those nearly 600 pages go relatively quickly?
Pages have now been added to message 137--the last number for each book. Sorry, no formatting in LT messages.
I've read The Great Transformation. I thought it was a bit of a slog, but I learned lots. I think I'll decline to re-read it; but I'll lurk around the edges of the conversation if its chosen.
Wow. Looks like a good vote! We had several tying for second place (suggesting that they may be good suggestions for next time if we want to re-nominate any of them), but the clear winner is The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong.
This is exciting. I read her A Short History of Myth and she is a great writer. We'll see whether or not it touches on precursors to modern science!
The Great Transformation is pretty light on the science (if there is any at all, which, right now, I honestly can't remember.)
Some of the other groups are having/planning group reads that may be of interest, too:
Evolve! is doing Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale--I now have a copy, but won't even get to start until April. http://www.librarything.com/topic/149657 After reading AT, I think I'll look for a copy of Among the Creationists since several people gave it such good reviews during the voting; those two should be interesting back-to-back.
And Morphy's Mighty Monthly Reads over in the Green Dragon is featuring The Great Influenza in April and CS Lewis's Til We Have Faces in May. The thread links will appear here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/146136#3753356
And the reading period is March through May?
I've read several of Armstrong's books, including A History of God, and find her an interesting writer.
>146 JDHomrighausen: Jonathan Yes, I read The Case for God and found it really interesting. I am eager to read some more of her history. Our rule of thumb for choosing books was to have 2 of the 3 categories: Science, History, Religion, so this one counts even if it doesn't have science. :) Personally, I'm fine reading books that are on one of the subjects alone, but I think most people in the group (at least the vocal ones) prefer to be more specific in our book choices. :)
>147 streamsong: Janet, that's interesting. I'll have to see if I can join in those groups. Thanks for letting us know.
>148 ronincats: Roni, The reading period should be April - June, right? Because The Ghost Map group read goes through March. This way, people have time to acquire the book before the group read starts. :)
>149 qebo: I've never read anything by Dawkins, I really should. I haven't even finished On the Origin of Species from last year. *sigh* I need to get on top of these things, don't I?
The link to The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions in message 137 pulls up a book of the same name by Karl Polanyi. I had to supply the subtitle to get the right link.
The LT rating of the Armstrong book is 3.94 and the book is shorter - only 469 pages. The pricing information is correct.
I am looking forward to the read even more now--I, too, read the author's A Short History of Myth and I really like her style.
I finished Ghost Map last night, and enjoyed the reading. I'm grateful to this thread, because I probably wouldn't have read the book without the prompting I got here.
I've got our next book--The Great Transformation: The Beginning of our Religious Traditions requested at the library, and will start that one as soon as I get it.
I've pulled the book off my shelf and am looking forward to reading it. It will be my "chapter" book--a chapter a night a bedtime--for April. Has anyone started a thread for the read?
Hey, I know it's a bit early for suggestions for next trimester, but I wanted to get these two newer books suggested before I forget they exist:
God and the Atom, Victor J. Stenger
The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt
Report on Faith No More.
Since it didn't look like it was going to get to the top of the heap, I decided to go forward with this book on my own. It was an interesting book, but I'm not sure it's good for this group. There is no history, and the science is fairly light. It's basically interviews with people who have left their religion categorized by the reasons they left. Zuckerman makes some stabs at analysis, but because of his same size (ca. 90) and the way he gathered the data (extensive interview), his ability to analyze the data is limited.
There were some interesting insights here into how difficult it is to get at what really motivates people in a sociological sense. If you don't know any secular people, you might be surprised in finding out what their lives are like. If you're an atheist and spend time trying to argue people out of believing, there are some insights into why that doesn't work. But if you really want to know why people can radically change their minds about something that was previously important to them, there's nothing specific to grab onto here.
Zuckerman is an atheist himself and has written other books extolling the virtues of secularity, and this book falls in line with that. I thought, except for one ignorant swipe at C. S. Lewis, that he wasn't anti-religious, just presenting secular life as a completely equal alternative.
Thanks for that update aulsmith! I'll probably read the book myself some day, though perhaps you're right - it might not ever win our vote. :)
Was I supposed to start nominations? I've gotten distracted!
I hereby nominate:
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality, by Manjit Kumar (Science, History)
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins (Science, Athiesm)
The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt (Social Science, Religion)
Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future, by Michio Kaku (Science, Religious Philosophy Undertones)
Nominations END on the 24th, and we'll have the vote open from the 24th through the 31st.
I vote for Quantum. I'd also do the Kaku book, but fair warning that recent CERN results don't support any Physics beyond the Standard Model and writings about string theory, M-theory and the like are in some question these days.
:) Thanks Jim! Glad someone appreciates my physics choices. I'd heard rumor that string theory was on it's way out, but I don't know enough about physics to understand what's "in" now besides the Higgs boson, which might or might not be really what they thought it was...Is there a book you'd recommend that would update me on stuff like that while keeping on the popular side of popular physics?
We'll start the actual vote on the 24th, so don't forget to come back then and cast for Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality. I've already got my copy of that, so I'll be reading it anyway. :)
Remember that nominations will be CLOSED on the 24th. If I'm the only one who nominates a book, then we'll just be voting on my nominations. :)
I, for one, would be very comfortable to rely on your nominations -- you and this group have come up with two good reads for me (although I'm still working on The Great Transformation).
I'm assuming that "Quantum" is meant for a broad range of readers, not just physics specialists. Is that right? It sounds interesting, so I would vote for it (in fact, I'm going to go see if my library has it, right now).
Ah! Another voice in the wilderness! :) I believe that Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality is for the popular reader rather than physics specialists, based on the reviews I've found.
This popular reader would prefer that to a book for physics specialists!
What about Newton and the Counterfeiter? It's definitely history and, it looks like, science as well. Apparently Newton was in charge of the Treasury and went after people who would file away at coins made of precious metals.
Nominations are CLOSED. The choices are:
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality, by Manjit Kumar $17.84 at Amazon, 4.07 LT stars
The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins $12.85 at Amazon, 4.31 LT stars
The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt $12.98 at Amazon, 4 LT stars
Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future, by Michio Kaku $12.80 at Amazon, 3.93 stars
Among the Creationists, by Jason Rosenhouse $26.96 at Amazon, 4.5 LT stars
The Unintended Reformation, by Brad S. Gregory $27.90 at Amazon
Newton and the Counterfeiter, by Thomas Levenson $5.98 at Amazon, 3.72 LT Stars
In the following poll, please vote YES for any book that you would read next quarter. Vote NO if you will not read the book. You can also use "uncertain" if that pertains to you.
Vote: Would you read Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality?
Current tally: Yes 9, No 3, Undecided 1
Vote: Would you read The Selfish Gene?
Current tally: Yes 6, No 7, Undecided 1
Vote: Would you read The Righteous Mind?
Current tally: Yes 7, No 4, Undecided 2
Vote: Would you read Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future?
Current tally: Yes 6, No 6, Undecided 2
Vote: Would you read Among the Creationists?
Current tally: Yes 9, No 5
Vote: Would you read The Unintended Reformation?
Current tally: Yes 4, No 7, Undecided 1
Vote: Would you read Newton and the Counterfeiter?
Current tally: Yes 7, No 3, Undecided 2
I have said, 'No,' to the Undecided Reformation because of the price. i hope it will come out in paperback sometime, and I will certainly read it then.
I also voted 'no' on a couple of books - but only because they are not available at the local library. I am willing to read any of them, but only voted 'yes' on those that are readily available to me.
My library has all but one of the above. So many interesting sounding ones!
Well, it looks like Quantum has won! :) We'll be discussing it from July - September. I'll start a thread in a couple of weeks.
I feel kind of bad for Among the Creationists, because it's been second place 2 or 3 times already! I'm wondering if those people who keep nominating and voting for Among the Creationists would like to hunker down for a separate group read sometime this quarter? I'll start the Quantum thread in July, as planned, but if people are interested, I could start another one for Among the Creationists. Otherwise, we can try to nominate it again next trimester.
I've made a note to order Quantum at the beginning of the new billing cycle on that credit card.
I've already read Among the Creationists and would be happy to discuss it with anyone who wants to read it. Would the two of us be enough sjmcreary?
(My internet access is currently intermittant, so if I don't reply it's not for lack of interest.
Here's the thread for the Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality group read!
sjmccreary and aulsmith are the only ones who voiced an opinion about making a second thread for Among the Creationists. I don't want to draw attention away from our Quantum group read, but I also feel that there's a lot of interest in Among the Creationists because it keeps coming in second place in our votes. Should I go ahead and make a second thread for it for just the three of us (and maybe more will jump in) or should we keep it open for voting on next time?
I'd go for it. There's a good chance others will join in, and given that it's spread out over the next several months, two threads isn't overly burdensome.
#187 I would have liked to read Among the Creationists as well, but I don't think I will be able to manage them both in that quarter.
You can always read Among the Creationists a little later, and just add your comments in on the thread when you're done. People get a bit behind on these group reads sometimes. For instance, I happen to be not very far AT ALL in last quarter's choice The Great Transformation. But I'm still going to make an effort to finish it soonish. :)
189: I know! I'm at the same standstill with The Great Transformation; I really want to get back at it this weekend, and make some progress.
I was wondering the same yesterday... Rachel hasn't updated her thread in a couple of months. Any nominations beyond the ones put to a vote above? (I've just started Quantum, so I'm not quite ready for another.)
193: Hmm. I'd normally wait for the paperback, but yes, I do want to read it.
#193 Zealot sounds quite interesting, I would be definitely be interested in a quarterly group read on this one, if set up.
I'm so-so on Zealot. A Muslim friend of mine read it and found it kinda annoying. Although Fox News was unfair to him, he misrepresented himself in that infamous interview, saying:
ASLAN: Well to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees — including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades — who also just happens to be a Muslim. So it’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus, I am an expert with a Ph.D in the history of religions…
Aslan was a religious studies and Greek major from my university, so he can read the New Testament in Greek. He has a master's in theology and a Ph.D. in sociology of religion. From what I hear from former professors (we had the same Greek professor) he specialized in New Testament as an undergrad and almost went to graduate school in it. So yes, he does have a degree "in" the New Testament - an undergraduate focus. It seems he is trying to make it sound (to people unaware of the vagaries of academic specialization) as if "religion" is some vague subject one can earn a Ph.D. in. But his dissertation on global jihad does not qualify him to be a Historical Jesus scholar, despite what he claimed on Fox News.
There's more here:
So this alone makes me wary of spending time with him - not just that he isn't really a scholar of early Christianity, but that he defensively claimed he was. I'm not a fan of scholarly dishonesty and posturing.
Aslan is an alum of my university and will come in a week or two to give a talk on his book, in discussion with a panel consisting of a theologian, a New Testament scholar, and an Islamic Studies scholar. I'll see what they have to say before I sign up to read.
Doesn't look like anything I'd read at this point. I would rather reread Jesus and the victory of God.
I have no opinion on this particular book (and I feel like I haven't participated enough in the group reads to try to sway the decision anyway), but the discussion of scholarly credentials is interesting. To what extent is the name and level of the degree the important thing, versus the work that someone actually ends up doing afterwards? If my PhD is in "ancient studies and civilizations", can I call myself a historian, or does it have to say "history"? If my current work focuses divination up to about 600 CE, can I later do work on the Islamic world, or would that never be respected? Does a one- or two-year Master's degree represent significantly more knowledge than a four-year Bachelor's degree? Lots of fun stuff to consider.
Zoe, I don't think it's that rigid. For example, many scholars who get degrees in "Ancient Near Eastern studies" are really Old Testament scholars. My advisor, who has an ANE degree, wrote his last book on Charles Darwin. I can also think of Eleanor Rosch, who trained as a cognitive psychologist and now writes on Buddhism and psychology. None of these people would claim to have a degree in the field they now work in. They would say they had to do a lot of study later on to catch up to their chosen field.
They have also had their work well-received and peer-reviewed in those subfields. Aslan has published his book in a popular press, neatly evading the need for peer review done by scholarly presses. I don't know how biblical scholars has reviewed his work.
This issue for me is dishonesty. Aslan claims to have a PhD in "history of religions" but in fact it is in sociology of religion. He claims to have a "degree" in New Testament when in fact it's an undergraduate focus.
MarthaJeanne, I agree. If we're going to read on the Historical Jesus question, I'd rather read someone who has been a giant in that field. N.T. Wright is a good place to start. Perhaps an interesting approach would be to find some anthology that pits skeptical scholars against orthodox ones. Then we could figure out the question for ourselves. :)
Nevertheless, Zealot is a book that is getting a lot of press right now. I'd love having a group read with Jonathan and others knowlegable on the subject who could tell us if things don't sound right. Perhaps a double group read with an NT Wright book? I know nothing about the subject so these are just ideas.
All these popular historical Jesus books get lots of press for a while, because of the shock factor. In general they either are things that anyone at all informed already knows, or they are mostly garbage.
(BTW 196, 202 have a bad touchstone.)
I plan to read Zealot, as I hear one of his inspirations was John P. Meier's four volume set on A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, of which I've read 3 volumes and have the fourth on my tbr pile. However, I'm 159 in line at the library for the book, and I don't plan to buy it, in hardback at least.
MarthaJeanne, I think you're right. I really enjoyed Reza Aslan's No God but God but beyond that I'm not keen on his work. In general I believe that the popularizers of a subject should be the same people who at the center of its scholarly circle. Often popular gurus give their own spin on a subject that may not be the way a scholar would present it.
I may be biased, but I would suggest my own professor's The Historical Jesus for Dummies.
However, that seems to be out of print.
No God but God might be interesting. I really would like some reading about Islam assumes that I am not a total novice, but also doesn't assume that I have a detailed understanding of the issues.
197: A Muslim friend of mine read it and found it kinda annoying.
Out of curiosity, in what ways?
197: he misrepresented himself in that infamous interview
I watched a snippet of the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQhMllQ-ODw .
I’d give some leeway in a brief interview for a succinct description that doesn’t go into tedious academic distinctions; I’d be more concerned about his representation of credentials in a more formal situation.
This gives a different spin to the scholarly credentials issue; in essence, he is what he says he is:
Here’s a more informative followup interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhNdq_huesc .
The trouble with N. T. Wright and John P. Meier is the mentioned books for both are one volume of four, and I’m simply not that interested. I’d be more inclined toward something like The Historical Jesus for Dummies. I’d also be OK with No god but God.
203: All these popular historical Jesus books get lots of press for a while, because of the shock factor. In general they either are things that anyone at all informed already knows, or they are mostly garbage.
I’m not informed enough on this issue to be bored by things that other people may know. I would want to distinguish between valid presentation and garbage.
>207 qebo: Thanks for that information.
I'd say that this seems like a good choice just because of how much discussion it's generated already. It seems like it would work well for a group read.
The discussion that's happened so far is interesting, but would it persist if Zealot were actually chosen? I'm not convinced that enough talkative people would read it to make the discussion interesting.... Just playing devil's advocate here. (I don't think I deserve a real say in any of this -- I'll read along if I'm really interested in whatever is chosen.)
May I suggest we take Rachel's lead and have a few more days for nominations with a firm cut off date and then a vote of yes or no for each nomination?
Another suggestion that I'll put forward is Fragrant Palm Leaves, Journals 1962-1966 by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Jonathan, I'll be really interested in what the panel at your school says about Zealot.
Unrelated: do we have a list somewhere of which books have been read by the group already?
212: The 2013 wiki links to the planning thread and the individual books. The 2013 wiki links to the planning thread only.
Actually, the 2012 wiki has the book threads in the group read section too. They're just not broken out separately like I did this year.
214: Ah, yes, the links are there but not organized as belonging to the SRH group. DrN, I am constantly amazed at your ability to notice messages relevant to your stewardship.
Since there were a few people interested in NT Wright's books, I'm posting this link to a year long discussion of his Christian Origin Series, started by MarthaJeanne over in the 2014 category group:
Thank you! I am down to join.
I do not see a thread for this group read in the 2014 75ers group. What are we reading come January?
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.