Customer Review

224 of 231 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shining Bright Lights, 8 July 2006
This review is from: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (Paperback)
Having only read the hardcover edition, I'm going to stick my neck out and assume that when Breaking the Spell is released as a paperback Daniel Dennett won't be backtracking much on a topic which evidently concerns him a great deal. Rightly so, since it increasingly seems that we have replaced a cold war based on political difference with one that has its foundation in the most personal beliefs of ordinary people the world over. Whether we cherish one divine source or another, or instead celebrate an entirely natural evolution of mankind, we need to understand each other better in order to coexist peacefully, as we should.

Dennett makes the point that in any society where freedoms of thought, speech and faith are prized above all else, freedom of enquiry should be the natural extension. Yet the default position amongst the world's various faithful on the subject of religious investigation is almost invariably one of affronted refusal. His concern is that ignorance not only leads us towards potentially dangerous misunderstanding, but that it can also blind us to the finer qualities of the things we love.

Dennett is a committed atheist, but this does not make him an enemy of the religious. His arguments and analysis are fair and the book's purpose valuable: to illuminate the situation for all concerned (which means everyone) and to suggest possible ways to move forward. He does not offer solutions, but paves the way for the first steps toward greater understanding and does so with his typical clarity, depth and good humour. A very good book.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Oct 2008 13:40:58 GMT
A very nicely-written and thoughtful review. Makes a refreshing change! Thank you.

Posted on 7 Nov 2008 17:05:29 GMT
Andrew says:
Whoa - very strange, I glance at this for the first time in I don't know how long and look what arrived a week ago! Thanks for the thanks.

Posted on 8 Jan 2010 16:19:33 GMT
Excellent review

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2010 17:19:48 BDT
Savita says:
Yes, very good review. We need to rise above differences not entrench them.

Posted on 19 Jan 2015 23:55:53 GMT
brain cell says:
"Yet the default position amongst the world's various faithful on the subject of religious investigation is almost invariably one of affronted refusal." - An assertion which is simply not true, at least within Christianity. There is absolutely no end of investigation into the Christian faith among Christians: its fundamental doctrinal claims, its philosophical underpinnings (which forms the basis of the entire work of apologetics in which many Christians engage), its historical context and so on. I speak as a Christian, who has studied theology to degree level (within a highly investigative environment), and who has been involved in many different aspects of church life, as well as engaging in apologetics. People like Dennett - along with Dawkins - are deeply ill-informed and are just attacking straw men most of the time. It is all very tiresome.
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