I do recommended this book and I applaud, as mentioned in the intro, that all of the authors of this book, which includes many atheists, wanted to get the correct version of history out there. As both a history guy and an Engineer this subject greatly interests me, so I was very excited to read this book. Though I may be a conservative and believe strongly in God, I like many of the authors, do want to see history be fair and balanced or be taught without any bias and by the facts. However, this is very difficult with most of the history books, professors, and media out there being very left of center. With that said this book does a very good job in destroying some of the religion vs. science myths that unfortunately have permeated our society for a long time.
The Good: The book does a very good job at getting at the myths that have been created by men such as Draper, White, and Gibbon and have unfortunately been retold over and over again in classrooms around the world. These articles clearly and concretely made the case that the mythical "Dark Ages" never happened, that no one believed the Earth was Flat in the Middle Ages, the fact that the Catholic Church, Christianity and the Noble rulers of Europe have greatly supported science both financially and rhetorically and also by setting up universities and societies, that the Galileo story and its circumstances are greatly over exaggerated and untrue, that religion has played a very important role as the driving force in the lives of many of humanities greatest scientists, that Bruno was not killed for his science but for heresy, and that human dissection and other medically linked issues were not banned by the Church.
The Bad: I do have a problem with 3 myths in the book. I have a small problem with Myth 4 and I guess that the atheists and those left of center had to try and save some face in myths 9 and 21.
Myth 4 - I agree that Islam was tolerant to science and made some very important contributions to science during the Middle Ages. However, I do disagree with the author in that like many others I believe Islamic science mainly carried on and maintained what the Greeks had done and did not do a tremendous amount to advance any of their ideas. However in my experience the inverse of this myth is far more prevalent in school. If you sit in the majority of college classrooms you get a story that sounds more like that Middle Eastern, Eastern and South American civilizations invented faster than Light travel and matter-antimatter reactors thousands of years ago and Europeans simply came along and stole their ideas or ignored them. Now give credit where credit is due, but in terms of scientific advancements, culture, and overall human progress the contributions made by Western civilization have out paced the rest of the world combined by a very large margin. I know it's politically incorrect to say, but that's the way history has played out and I am just tired of all of the spin.
Myth 9 - is pretty ridiculous, I mean sure almost anyone can prove that anything is never 100% true, but as is it is shown in many of the other articles in the book, Christianity has played a HUGE role in the development of science. Sure the types of government and wealth also play a role in where science has developed, but Christianity also had a HUGE effect on the patterns of wealth and the governments that has made Western civilization so successful. As mentioned in other articles the Catholic Church and Christianity greatly supported science financially and rhetorically, while European nobles were also great patrons of the sciences. Christianity was also an important driver in the personal lives of many of the greatest scientists of all time. I think all of the quotations that were used to support the authors statement were taken out of context and the authors was grasping at the notion that somehow all conservatives and those who see the value of religion ,especially Christianity, are racists or close minded.
Myth 21 - Again like the other two myths I believe the opposite of Myth 21 is far more prevalent. I see a hell of a lot more claims that Einstein was an atheist rather than he believed in a personal God. Though to the author's credit he does point out that Einstein rejected atheism as well. From his own quotations it is clear that Einstein believed in something along the lines of Spinoza's God or held a belief of something like Deism, while rejecting the beliefs and doctrine of the mainstream religions. I agree that anyone should be taken to task if they say Einstein believed in a Judeo-Christian God, but the authors should re-title the article to be something more neutral like "Myths about Einstein views on Religion".
Other minor things include that I think there was a bit too much on evolution in the book. I know this is a hot button issue for many, but it just does not interest me too much. To me it just comes down to the individuals own beliefs.
I think it would have bee nice if the great scientific, agricultural and commercial advancements made during the entirety of Middle Ages be further expanded upon. A mention of the Carolingian Renaissance would also have been nice.
It would have also been nice if an article was exclusively dedicated to the importance of religion or the belief in God in the personal lives of some of the world's greatest scientists. I mean the list of scientists who believed in some from of a higher power far outweigh those who have not.
Overall I still highly recommend.