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Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
by Daniel C. Dennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

14 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Old questions - still no answers, 30 May 2008
When I was reading the book from Daniel Dennett, a distinguished philosopher and director of Cambridge institute for cognitive studies, I was expecting to get some answers for questions why do humans believe in any deity or superstition.

Questions like:
- Why 80% of the world population so faithful to some kind of religion ?
- How can this be explained by psychology ?
- Is there a specific genetic predisposition for more religious behavior (nature not nurture) ?
- How is religion replacing the parental love with love for God from a specific age (7-years ?) on ?
- Why is rationality suppresses and what happens then in the brain ? (Like a scientists is writing his PhD for geology and study 500 million year old strata and is leaving his office/lab and *thinks* the earth is 6000 years old)

Dan Dennett is very carefully and `politically correct' talking around the problem to avoid offending anybody and is carefully considering the possibility to ask some of this old questions - unfortunately answers I had hoped for are not provided.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2008 5:42 AM BST

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts
by Israel Finkelstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic history reconstructed, 29 May 2008
This book "The Bible unearthed" is concentrating on the Biblical history starting from the great patriarch Abraham until the exile in Babylon. Based on archeological evidence this journey of Abraham can never have taken place and is describing more the political settings of the period of king Josiah of Judea from the 7th century BCE. The kingdoms or tribes described have not existed during Abraham's times, no Camels were domesticated to be part of a caravan taking Abrahams offspring into 430 years of Egyptian exile.
There were Canaanite settlements in the Nile delta but no mass Exodus, at least not at the time mentioned in the Bible, no wandering for 40 years of 600.000 chosen people in the desert of Sinai, all invented during Josiah's term from the YHWH-alone movement.
The core of the Jewish religion was founded in the Judean highlands from sheep and goat herders who were settling there since ancient times and not arriving refugees after 40 years of wandering after the Exodus.
The kings David and Solomon were only some tribal chiefs of these highland goat herders and not the magic powerful rulers of huge kingdoms as stated in Biblical texts. So the stories are more fairy tales inspired by the powerful northern neighbor kingdom under the Omri dynasty. And Solomon is not mentioned anywhere outside the Bible and his existence can not even be confirmed by any evidence- but there is another book from the same authors just about this period.
The best periods of the Judean chiefdoms are under polytheistic rules mentioned as wicked in the Bible, the worst periods full of lost wars and hardship under YHWH-alone rules mentioned as righteous and good in the Bible.
And of course the temple scroll miraculously found in 622 BCE happened under the `most righteous' king Josiah and this king is even explicitly mentioned as great messiah in the alleged 1000 BCE prophecies.

In short the whole stories are invented from a small kingdom of Judea to support the claim over the historical `ownership' over the 10 tribes of Israel e.g. the much bigger but crumbling northern kingdom of Israel.
"The Bible unearthed" is really a big blow to the entire validity of the Old Testament.

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected, 26 May 2008
Reading the previous comments I was expecting an unfounded biased rant and was positively surprised that this is an most of the times well researched book with first hand experience of a far traveled journalists to supplement historical readings.
Of course there are shortcomings in scientific explanations compared to a Richard Dawkins but that was not to be expected from Hitchens anyway.
The only weird things are the attempt (in vain) to get Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot and Co somehow linked into a religious (own semi God) status to blame religion even for them. The arguments are on such a fabricated low level usually only known from Christian apologists, so the book would do better without this few pages. These could be filled then with a more detailed evaluation of the Christian anti-Semitism for 2000 years and the collusion between both German churches and the Nazi's.

Who Wrote the Gospels?
Who Wrote the Gospels?
by Randel Helms
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who wrote the Goospels - eye opener, 19 May 2008
This review is from: Who Wrote the Gospels? (Hardcover)
The content is very interesting: all 4 canonical Gospels are investigated for their authorship and the circumstances and source materials used for them. Dates of writings are estimated and Luke is shown to be a woman, focusing on early feminism, inventing miracle stories involving woman to balance out the male centered Christianity and focus on female pregnancy talks (Elizabeth and Mary) clear indications of a female authorship of Luke.

All this happens on a mere 168 pages, including blank pages between chapters plus many quotes, comparisons and interpretations are repeated again under a new chapter. If printed with the usual small letter size it would fit to 100 pages and would leave more room for investigating other NT writings (Paul's epistles etc.) or add some thoughts about inconsistencies between Gospels or contradictions with Jewish customs and historical evidence into the same book.

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