The 2013 Science, Religion, and History group read discussion thread
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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?
I think either book named above would be great. (I know, that does not help us decide!)
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.
(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'm still reading Social Conquest though I'm increasingly irritated with the undocumented assumptions. I think I'm in chapter 7.
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
Vote: Do you want to read Among the Creationists
Vote: Do you want to read The Greeks and the Irrational
Vote: Do you want to read Religion for Atheists
In addition, only one of the 4 is available in my library system.
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.
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.
Vote: I have access to a university library
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
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?
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.
ETA: It's longer though! 432pages
Vote: We should choose all four books at the beginning of the year
Vote: Do you want to read Destiny of the Republic
Vote: Do you want to read The Ghost Map
Vote: Do you want to read Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World
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?)
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 :-)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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)?
ETA: That was a big switch-over from our religion-themed original nominations, wasn't it?
Are we starting February 1st or in January?
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:
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.
Also The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong
I still haven't managed to get The Ghost Map from the library. It's looking like I'll just have to buy it.
The Great Transformation is my 'to read' pile, so I'll second that.
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.
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'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.
PS I've actually been there. I have it starred now.
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...
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
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.
Vote: Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future, by Michio Kaku
Vote: Among the Creationists, by Jason Rosenhouse
Vote: Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion, by Phil Zuckerman
Vote: The Great Transformation, by Karen Armstrong
Vote: The Unintended Reformation, by Brad S. Gregory
Vote: The Universe in a Single Atom, by the Dalai Lama
Vote: The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments, by George Johnson
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
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!
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!
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
I've read several of Armstrong's books, including A History of God, and find her an interesting writer.
>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 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'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.
God and the Atom, Victor J. Stenger
The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt
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.
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.
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. :)
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).
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?
Vote: Would you read The Selfish Gene?
Vote: Would you read The Righteous Mind?
Vote: Would you read Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future?
Vote: Would you read Among the Creationists?
Vote: Would you read The Unintended Reformation?
Vote: Would you read Newton and the Counterfeiter?
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
(BTW 196, 202 have a bad touchstone.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I do not see a thread for this group read in the 2014 75ers group. What are we reading come January?