Please join us at the JCC Victoria (3636 Shelbourne Street) at 2 pm on Saturday, November 17th for the presentation of the book “THE TROUBLE WITH RELIGION” by Sophie Dulesh. Discussion and refreshments will follow.
“THE TROUBLE WITH RELIGION” by Sophie Dulesh
This is the book exposing the harms against humanity inflicted by the normative religions, their backwardness, obscurantism and obstruction of any intellectual quest. By ‘normative religion’ I mean the world views and actions of the organized faiths [in particular, the ones, examined in this book that are three major monotheistic normative faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam]. Opposed to them world views and ethics of the secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and skeptics are presented. The major inherent trouble with all religions, particularly relevant in our age of WMS, is their incurable divisiveness, militant exclusiveness (“MY God is the THE supreme one above everyone’s else gods!”) that has unleashed sectarian bloodshed globally since the time immemorial and with no end in sight.
The book is 327 pages long and consists of the introduction, three parts and conclusive remarks. Part I has six and Part II – four chapters, while Part III is an essay on personal responsibility. The topics discussed in the first six chapters of the Part 1 range from the general problems [like the exposure of untruths in the most fundamental claims of the organized religions about spirituality and ethics being exclusively their domain and about non-believers being immoral and anti-spiritual by definition, or like the exposure of the social benefits of democracy versus autocracy, etc], to the rather tactical current questions, like whether Christianity is in decline in the 21st century, etc.
Part II is the indictment of the fundamentalist Christianity (chapter 7), of the Orthodox Judaism (chapter 8) and of the radical Islam (chapter 9) with the chapter 9i specifically devoted to the analysis of religious validation of the political/sectarian violence (concept known as the Lesser al-Jihad), as well as of faith-justified mortifying concepts of misogyny and antisemitism. As to the latter, the Church had been planting and advancing antisemitism in Europe for two millennia (to the point where it had created – in the 20th century – not only religious but also lethal ethnic biological intolerance leading to Holocaust); at our times it is the fanatical Islam that has been nurturing and spreading viral antisemitism in the East. Astoundingly anti-dialectic religious foundations of the Sunni ideology, based on the words and deeds of the Prophet as the final never-changing never-disputable truth, ossified once and forever, fit best for all times and places, are also examined in the book and their suffocating role in obstructing social and economic progress in the most parts of Islamic world.
Positive sides of organized faiths such as expansive vaccination and other missionary work, social networking etc are acknowledged; the harms of inherent religious divisiveness, however, have much outweighed any such benefits.
Every chapter ends with brief conclusions summarizing the most important points of the narrative. There are as well general conclusive remarks at the end of the book. The introduction contains the list of working definitions for the political/religious terminology, the way it was used in the book. There are 416 references, documenting the sources used in the book, and the combined Subject/Author Index.
A couple of questions regarding the book, seem predictable, ‘natural’. First, why yet another book on secular humanist as opposed to religious views? On the page 2, I quote Richard Feynman, saying: “There is practically nothing that I’m going to say that couldn’t have been… said by philosophers of the 17th to 20th centuries. Why repeat all this?
Because there are new generations born every day. Because there are great ideas developed in the history… [which] do not last unless they are passed… from generation to generation…”
Because Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis as life goes on and new events, concepts, interpretations and corresponding emotions form our attitudes.
Besides, I do not quite subscribe that there is nothing new, just repetitions of the well-worn arguments: every next crop of the books worth their salt brings up new sets of the ideas, interpretations of the causes/consequences, facts, reasoning and convictions. Some of them, I believe, are present in my new book as well, perhaps, particularly in the chapters 4 and 9i; you, the reader, be a judge.
And the second question: who is the book addressed to? It is neither academia nor a textbook; it is designed to help those still forming their own judgements in today’s bewildering network of worldviews, the ordinary readers in your local library, the people just entering and not yet necessarily sophisticated in the field.
Respectfully submitted by S. Dulesh, October 2012.