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The Story of God [Hardcover]

Robert Winston
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Oct 2005
From the tiniest microchip to infection-fighting antibiotics to the information superhighway, the modern world relies upon technology and scientific understanding. Where once we might have consulted a mystic shaman to explain and cure an illness, we now turn to scientists, whose findings are based upon empirical study. But, faith has not withered away. This modern age, so dominated by and dependent upon science, is also the age in which 98 per cent of Americans profess a belief in God. It's an age in which the Prime Minister and the Queen of England both believe openly in an afterlife. Church attendance figures are in a state of decline, yet popular beliefs in various aspects of the supernatural - ghosts and spirits, fortune-telling, and healing - are more vigorous than ever. Whilst Christianity struggles to win new converts, Islam acts as a unifying, energising force for many of the world's most dispossessed people. The "Story Of God" is a ground-breaking book - supported by a prime-time BBC1 television series - that examines this relationship across time, beginning with the primitive worship of our early ancestors, and concluding with a vivid portrait of faith in the modern world. Robert Winston provides a unique perspective; he writes as a respected scientist who is also committed to Judaism and offers a challenging, sometimes startling personal discourse between science and religion. Grand in scope, adventurous in tone, the book will trace a line across continents, cultures, and eras.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; First Edition edition (17 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593054938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593054932
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 709,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Intelligent and readable" (TLS)

"A lively and accessible guide to its subject. Simply and clearly written, illustrating its points with examples from popular culture, Winston's book is an enthusiastic starting point for the study of a fascinating area of human philosophy and psychology" (BOOKS QUARTERLY) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A personal journey into the world of science and religion. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Story of God-Believers 30 Oct 2005
As a scientist Winston gives us an historical examination of what he knows to be real, the fact that humans have had a concept of what he calls the Divine Idea from pre-historic times and that persists into the scientific present.
He describes how human perception and psychology have lead to particular forms of believing and religious behaviour in various cultural contexts. However, despite having provided such rational explanations for why a religion may have adopted its particular idea of The Divine, he manages to resist making a generalised leap into reasoning about the existence of a God. He prefers to see science and religion as two totally separate ways of understanding the natural world.
There is agreement with fellow scientist Richard Dawkins on the examinable facts of what religion is and what science can tell us. Avoiding Dawkins’ anti-religious stance he seems quite deliberate in his intention to provide moderate ground. He suggests that neither science nor religion should be judged on their failures, seeing value in acknowledging good in religion; accepting it as a self-evident and inescapable part of human nature. In the same way he sees the abuse of the outcomes of science and technology as something that should not cause them to be rejected in the cause of mumbo jumbo thinking.
Had he not deliberately avoided the question of whether God exists we could have had the makings of a new genre of ‘Popular Theology’. We may do anyway. This is advocacy for science and religion that leaves it up to the reader to work the god/God bit out for themselves.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth it 10 Jan 2006
By Oliver
A good place to start if you are interested in the history of religion and especially of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The book is written in a comprehensible fashion, rarely boring and at times even gripping. Unfortunately the style isn't always immaculate, and some more editing certainly would have done no harm (too many repetitions of phrases or entire paragraphs). Also, although by and large the author is careful to explain the most important points at great length, the reader is sometimes left alone when he least expects it (e.g. in the story about the schism between sunni and shi'ite muslims). Nevertheless, a must-read unless you are already well-versed in your own religion and at least one or two others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Athiest comment 20 Dec 2008
If you are an athiest (or even maybe a non-athiest), it is quite possible you have asked the question "why do human beings have the need to believe in a God"?
This book goes a long way to answering that question. Fantastic to read, from the mind of a brilliant man. Robert Winston is also being very clever in not giving away his own personal opinion as to whether or not a God exists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good. 30 Nov 2007
By Birmingham Book Reader VINE VOICE
I always enjoy this sort of book and The Story Of God is a good read. An historial view of God from pre-history until the present day wriiten by a scientist.

Really well researched. The readers is made aware that the author knows his stuff!

Good basic but very enjoyable introduction.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air 10 Jan 2010
Having watched Robert Winston's excellent BBC programme "Making Babies", I was intrigued by his venture into the science/religion debate. Winston acknowledges at the outset that his scientific position that, "humans evolved from hominids; apes that naturally stand upright on two legs" will offend some religious people. He also understands that, as a practising Jew, he holds views which many fellow scientists will dismiss as soft headed. He states his own position clearly, "I am not an atheist. I do not pretend to understand the nature of God; I do not know whether our moral code is a human construct, a piece of genetic programming or a God-given gift; I do not fully understand the concept of a soul and I have no idea whether there is an afterlife - but I am prepared to accept that God may exist." Such open mindedness brings a breath of fresh air to what is often a sterile debate.

Winston attributes the survival of humans to "our relatively large brain" admitting that, "the evolutionary causes of this....are not certain". He recognises the inevitability of conflict between those who would attribute the human brain as "a gift from God" and scientists, like himself, who believe "the similarity between our brains and those of apes make the idea of evolution irrefutable." At the same time he points out that, "of all apes, body weight for body weight, we have been the weakest, the least agile, the least fleet of foot and so - with few natural weapons - the most defenceless. With our soft, fleshy young, remaining dependent for so long upon their parents, we were the perfect snack for the many predators around us" He suggests that it was humans' ability to adapt to the environment in which they existed, coupled with their imagination, which enabled them to survive.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sagelike. 13 July 2011
Robert Winston brings me, you and his moustache on a journey through religion. Each step of the way we are calmly explained what people believed and the judgement is left to the reader and after this book an air of tolerance is felt. Now if only the rest of us (Dawkins included) could learn to talk and write about religion in this calm and collected manner maybe the world would be a better place.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Meandering, just like a conversation, with explanations where...
Chosen because the book was so rewarding. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to think around subjects, rather dig deeply on one. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs Joy Francis
3.0 out of 5 stars Personal View
This book was a slight disappointment as although readable it was a personal view which was coloured by the TV series which it accompanies. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Rf And Tm Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent account
This was a superb and unbiased as the author could possibly be. everything is covered from psychology, genetics, sociology and physics.highly recommended and well worth the price
Published 13 months ago by Prof.Del
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to fault
You have to want to read a book like this, but it is very rewarding. Robert Winston rose hugely in my estimation by writing this. Read more
Published on 15 April 2012 by fat man on a bicycle
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good points
Professor Winston presents quite a balanced view of religion which introduces various opinions. It is interesting to read a range of points of view. Read more
Published on 28 May 2011 by A.
5.0 out of 5 stars christmas present
although not a christmas present for this year, but previously, I had no problems with the seller as regards condition and despatch.
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by P. Pegden
2.0 out of 5 stars the (?) story of god
This volume is a prime example of `one of the country's best-known scientists' (back cover) sounding authoritative on a subject (`the story of god') about which he is actually no... Read more
Published on 4 Oct 2008 by G. J. Thackray
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
Informative look at the history of religion and God but could be better written and more structured.
Published on 3 Sep 2008 by T. Young
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new here at all
I was expecting an in-depth discussion on the possibility that religious beliefs could stem from genetic processes, that biology ultimately dictated religion. Read more
Published on 8 May 2006 by Mr. R. J. L. Newlove
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