For the Glory of God

For the Glory of God

How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery

Book - 2003
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Rodney Stark's provocative new book argues that, whether we like it or not, people acting for the glory of God have formed our modern culture. Continuing his project of identifying the widespread consequences of monotheism, Stark shows that the Christian conception of God resulted--almost inevitably and for the same reasons--in the Protestant Reformation, the rise of modern science, the European witch-hunts, and the Western abolition of slavery. In the process, he explains why Christian and Islamic images of God yielded such different cultural results, leading Christians but not Muslims to foster science, burn "witches," and denounce slavery.

With his usual clarity and skepticism toward the received wisdom, Stark finds the origins of these disparate phenomena within monotheistic religious organizations. Endemic in such organizations are pressures to maintain religious intensity, which lead to intense conflicts and schisms that have far-reaching social results.

Along the way, Stark debunks many commonly accepted ideas. He interprets the sixteenth-century flowering of science not as a sudden revolution that burst religious barriers, but as the normal, gradual, and direct outgrowth of medieval theology. He also shows that the very ideas about God that sustained the rise of science led also to intense witch-hunting by otherwise clear-headed Europeans, including some celebrated scientists. This conception of God likewise yielded the Christian denunciation of slavery as an abomination--and some of the fiercest witch-hunters were devoted participants in successful abolitionist movements on both sides of the Atlantic.

For the Glory of God is an engrossing narrative that accounts for the very different histories of the Christian and Muslim worlds. It fundamentally changes our understanding of religion's role in history and the forces behind much of what we point to as secular progress.

Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2003.
ISBN: 9780691114361
Branch Call Number: 211.34 S295
Characteristics: x, 488 p. : ill.


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Oct 30, 2016

I highly recommend this book. It is well written and well organized: you always know the point the author is trying to make and can follow the steps he took to get there. He is writing about three contentious topics: science and religion, witchcraft, and the abolition of slavery; readers will discover much of what they think they know about those topics is wrong! The author has read deeply and widely in the secondary sources and presents some statistics of his own. Readers will learn a lot, and if they want to know more, the book provides a full bibliography.

Jun 06, 2014

Further reading: “A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom” 1896 Andrew Dickson White 1832-1918 .... and see .....

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