Book picks similar to
Mythology and the Individual (Joseph Campbell Audio Collection) by Joseph Campbell
Myth and Religion: A Thorn in the Flesh
Alan W. Watts - 1996
He then takes a revealing look at the mystical origins of Christianity in Jesus - His Religion, Or the Religion About Him? and explores how Christianity has diverged historically from those teachings in a brilliant and well researched critique of the Church. In Democracy in the Kingdom of Heaven Watts then carries his inquiry one step further, and asks if indeed a monarchical religion still makes sense in a democratic society. Watts takes a fascinating look at the ultimately anthropomorphic quality of man's view of his god in Images of Man. Here he is only half kidding when he says that "In the beginning there was Man, and he created God in his image," pointing to the highly subjective nature of our inquiry into the highest orders of reality. In the final chapter, Religion and Sexuality, Watts again looks at organized religion, but with more than a touch of humor as he suggests that churches today are sexual regulation societies, and precious little else. To make this point Watts asks, "How else can you get thrown out?" He then goes on to discuss the social implications of the Church's investment in moral issues, and demonstrates that this may in fact be a ploy to cover up for the lack of any substantial religious teaching in organized religion today.
The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
Karen Armstrong - 2006
Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal "Axial Age" can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times. Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action. In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change.
Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
Bart D. Ehrman - 2020
Most people who hold these beliefs are Christian and assume they are the age-old teachings of the Bible. But eternal rewards and punishments are found nowhere in the Old Testament and are not what Jesus or his disciples taught. So where did the ideas come from? In clear and compelling terms, Bart Ehrman recounts the long history of the afterlife, ranging from The Epic of Gilgamesh up to the writings of Augustine, focusing especially on the teachings of Jesus and his early followers. He discusses ancient guided tours of heaven and hell, in which a living person observes the sublime blessings of heaven for those who are saved and the horrifying torments of hell for the damned. Some of these accounts take the form of near death experiences, the oldest on record, with intriguing similarities to those reported today. One of Ehrman’s startling conclusions is that there never was a single Greek, Jewish, or Christian understanding of the afterlife, but numerous competing views. Moreover, these views did not come from nowhere; they were intimately connected with the social, cultural, and historical worlds out of which they emerged. Only later, in the early Christian centuries, did they develop into the notions of eternal bliss or damnation widely accepted today. As a historian, Ehrman obviously cannot provide a definitive answer to the question of what happens after death. In Heaven and Hell, he does the next best thing: by helping us reflect on where our ideas of the afterlife come from, he assures us that even if there may be something to hope for when we die, there is certainly nothing to fear.
The Evolution of God
Robert Wright - 2009
Through the prisms of archaeology, theology, and evolutionary psychology, Wright's findings overturn basic assumptions about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and are sure to cause controversy. He explains why spirituality has a role today, and why science, contrary to conventional wisdom, affirms the validity of the religious quest. And this previously unrecognized evolutionary logic points not toward continued religious extremism, but future harmony. Nearly a decade in the making, The Evolution of God is a breathtaking re-examination of the past, and a visionary look forward.
God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter
Stephen R. Prothero - 2010
For good and for evil, religion is the single greatest influence in the world. We accept as self-evident that competing economic systems (capitalist or communist) or clashing political parties (Republican or Democratic) propose very different solutions to our planet's problems. So why do we pretend that the world's religious traditions are different paths to the same God? We blur the sharp distinctions between religions at our own peril, argues religion scholar Stephen Prothero, and it is time to replace naÏve hopes of interreligious unity with deeper knowledge of religious differences. In Religious Literacy, Prothero demonstrated how little Americans know about their own religious traditions and why the world's religions should be taught in public schools. Now, in God Is Not One, Prothero provides readers with this much-needed content about each of the eight great religions. To claim that all religions are the same is to misunderstand that each attempts to solve a different human problem. For example: –Islam: the problem is pride / the solution is submission –Christianity: the problem is sin / the solution is salvation –Confucianism: the problem is chaos / the solution is social order –Buddhism: the problem is suffering / the solution is awakening –Judaism: the problem is exile / the solution is to return to God Prothero reveals each of these traditions on its own terms to create an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to better understand the big questions human beings have asked for millennia—and the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today. A bold polemical response to a generation of misguided scholarship, God Is Not One creates a new context for understanding religion in the twenty-first century and disproves the assumptions most of us make about the way the world's religions work.
God: A Human History
Reza Aslan - 2017
In his new book, Aslan takes on a subject even more immense: God, writ large. In layered prose and with thoughtful, accessible scholarship, Aslan narrates the history of religion as a remarkably cohesive attempt to understand the divine by giving it human traits and emotions. According to Aslan, this innate desire to humanize God is hardwired in our brains, making it a central feature of nearly every religious tradition. As Aslan writes, “Whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless of whether we’re believers or not, what the vast majority of us think about when we think about God is a divine version of ourselves.” But this projection is not without consequences. We bestow upon God not just all that is good in human nature—our compassion, our thirst for justice—but all that is bad in it: our greed, our bigotry, our penchant for violence. All these qualities inform our religions, cultures, and governments. More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more universal spirituality. Whether you believe in one God, many gods, or no god at all, God: A Human History will challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.Praise for God “Breathtaking in its scope and controversial in its claims, God: A Human History shows how humans from time immemorial have made God in their own image, and argues that they should now stop. Writing with all the verve and brilliance we have come to expect from his pen, Reza Aslan has once more produced a book that will prompt reflection and shatter assumptions.”—Bart D. Ehrman, author of How Jesus Became God “Reza Aslan offers so much to relish in his excellent ‘human history’ of God. In tracing the commonalities that unite religions, Aslan makes truly challenging arguments that believers in many traditions will want to mull over, and to explore further. This rewarding book is very ambitious in its scope, and it is thoroughly grounded in an impressive body of reading and research.”—Philip Jenkins, author of Crucible of Faith
Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide
Richard Dawkins - 2019
Should we believe in God? In this new book, written for a new generation, the brilliant science writer and author of The God Delusion, explains why we shouldn't.Should we believe in God? Do we need God in order to explain the existence of the universe? Do we need God in order to be good? In twelve chapters that address some of the most profound questions human beings confront, Dawkins marshals science, philosophy and comparative religion to interrogate the hypocrisies of all the religious systems and explain to readers of all ages how life emerged without a Creator, how evolution works and how our world came into being.For anyone hoping to grapple with the meaning of life and what to believe, Outgrowing God is a challenging, thrilling and revelatory read.
The Immortality Key: Uncovering the Secret History of the Religion with No Name
Brian C. Muraresku - 2020
In the tradition of unsolved historical mysteries like David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon and Douglas Preston's The Lost City of the Monkey God, Brian Muraresku’s 10-year investigation takes the reader through Greece, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, offering unprecedented access to the hidden archives of the Louvre and the Vatican along the way.In The Immortality Key, Muraresku explores a little-known connection between the best-kept secret in Ancient Greece and Christianity. This is the real story of the most famous human being who ever lived (Jesus) and the biggest religion the world has ever known. Today, 2.4 billion people are Christian. That's one third of the planet. But do any of them really know how it all started?Before Jerusalem, before Rome, before Mecca—there was Eleusis: the spiritual capital of the ancient world. It promised immortality to Plato and the rest of Athens's greatest minds with a very simple formula: drink this potion, see God. Shrouded in secrecy for millennia, the Ancient Greek sacrament was buried when the newly Christianized Roman Empire obliterated Eleusis in the fourth century AD.Renegade scholars in the 1970s claimed the Greek potion was psychedelic, just like the original Christian Eucharist that replaced it. In recent years, vindication for the disgraced theory has been quietly mounting in the laboratory. The rapidly growing field of archaeological chemistry has proven the ancient use of visionary drugs. And with a single dose of psilocybin, the psycho-pharmacologists at Johns Hopkins and NYU are now turning self-proclaimed atheists into instant believers. No one has ever found hard, scientific evidence of drugs connected to Eleusis, let alone early Christianity. Until now.Armed with key documents never before translated into English, convincing analysis, and a captivating spirit of quest, Muraresku mines science, classical literature, biblical scholarship and art to deliver the hidden key to eternal life, bringing us to what clinical psychologist William Richards calls "the edge of an awesomely vast frontier."Featuring a Foreword by Graham Hancock, the New York Times bestselling author of America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization.
A Little History of Religion
Richard Holloway - 2016
Richard Holloway retells the entire history of religion—from the dawn of religious belief to the twenty-first century—with deepest respect and a keen commitment to accuracy. Writing for those with faith and those without, and especially for young readers, he encourages curiosity and tolerance, accentuates nuance and mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith. Ranging far beyond the major world religions of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, Holloway also examines where religious belief comes from, the search for meaning throughout history, today’s fascinations with Scientology and creationism, religiously motivated violence, hostilities between religious people and secularists, and more. Holloway proves an empathic yet discerning guide to the enduring significance of faith and its power from ancient times to our own.
Yoga: Immortality and Freedom
Mircea Eliade - 1954
Drawing on years of study and experience in India, Eliade provides a comprehensive survey of Yoga in theory and practice from its earliest foreshadowings in the Vedas through the twentieth century. The subjects discussed include Pata�jali, author of the Yoga-sutras; yogic techniques, such as concentration on a Single Point, postures, and respiratory discipline; and Yoga in relation to Brahmanism, Buddhism, Tantrism, Oriental alchemy, mystical erotism, and shamanism.
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Daniel C. Dennett - 2006
It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. In this daring new book, distinguished philosopher Daniel C. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks why. Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In "Breaking the Spell," Dennett argues that the time has come to shed the light of science on the fundamental questions of faith. In a spirited narrative that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. Deftly and lucidly, he contends that the "belief in belief" has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need."Breaking the Spell" is not an antireligious screed but rather an eyeopening exploration of the role that belief plays in our lives, our interactions, and our country. With the gulf between rationalists and adherents of "intelligent design" widening daily, Dennett has written a timely and provocative book that will be read and passionately debated by believers and nonbelievers alike.
The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Émile Durkheim - 1912
He investigates what he considered to be the simplest form of documented religion - totemism among the Aborigines of Australia. For Durkheim, studying Aboriginal religion was a way 'to yield an understanding of the religious nature of man, by showing us an essential and permanent aspect of humanity'. The need and capacity of men and women to relate to one another socially lies at the heart of Durkheim's exploration, in which religion embodies the beliefs that shape our moral universe. The Elementary Forms has been applauded and debated by sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, philosophers, and theologians, and continues to speak to new generations about the intriguing origin and nature of religion and society. This new, lightly abridged edition provides an excellent introduction to Durkheim's ideas.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Jonathan Haidt - 2012
His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right. He blends his own research findings with those of anthropologists, historians, and other psychologists to draw a map of the moral domain. He then examines the origins of morality, overturning the view that evolution made us fundamentally selfish creatures. But rather than arguing that we are innately altruistic, he makes a more subtle claim—that we are fundamentally groupish. It is our groupishness, he explains, that leads to our greatest joys, our religious divisions, and our political affiliations. In a stunning final chapter on ideology and civility, Haidt shows what each side is right about, and why we need the insights of liberals, conservatives, and libertarians to flourish as a nation.
Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All
David Fitzgerald - 2010
NAILED sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths, and, with evidence gathered from historians across the theological spectrum, shows how they point to a Jesus Christ created solely through allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah transformed from a purely literary, theological construct into the familiar figure of Jesus - in short, a purely mythic Christ.
Religion and Science
Bertrand Russell - 1935
Examining accounts in which scientific advances clashed with Christian doctrine or biblical interpretations of the day, from Galileo and the Copernican Revolution, to the medical breakthroughs of anesthesia and inoculation, Russell points to the constant upheaval and reevaluation of our systems of belief throughout history. In turn, he identifies where similar debates between modern science and the Church still exist today. This classic is sure to interest all readers of philosophy and religion, as well as those interested in Russell's thought and writings.