Summary: The Victory of Reason: Review and Analysis of Rodney Starks Book

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Max Weber. Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism. Perry Anderson. Beyond Distributism. Thomas E Woods. The Jesuits. John W. The Rise of the Western World. Douglass C. The Gutenberg Revolution. Richard Abel. The Way of the World. David Fromkin. Euan Cameron. The Cloud of Unknowing. William Johnston. The Making of Polities. John Watts. The Heresy of Orthodoxy Foreword by I. Andreas J. God's Profound and Mysterious Providence. Abraham Park. Michael Burger. Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes.

Mark H. Daniel H. The Evolution of International Society. Adam Watson. How the Bible Became Holy. Michael L Satlow. Capitol Reader. God in Dispute. Roger E. Marcus Luft. Why the Middle Ages Matter. Celia Chazelle. Peter Rietbergen. A History of the Middle Ages, — John M. Michael Gauvreau. The Modern World-System I. Immanuel Wallerstein.

Neither Jew nor Greek. James D. Larry Neal. Institutions and European Trade. Sheilagh Ogilvie. The Abbess of Andalusia. Lorraine V. Lamin O. The History of Theological Education. Justo L. Enduring Empire. David Tabachnick. The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther. Earthly Mission. Robert Calderisi. Max Weber on Capitalism, Bureaucracy and Religion. Understanding Atheism townhall. In Partial Response to Christopher Hitchens townhall. Faithful Atheists townhall.

Are Atheists the New Gays? The atheists who came in from the cold townhall. Presenting the Christian Worldview Christian Post, Winter Reading townhall. Atheism and Amputation Christian Post, Atheism Back in Court Again townhall. God v.


Atheism: My Debate with Daniel Dennett townhall. Why Atheists Are So Angry townhall. Atheists vs. Grace townhall. Atheists put their faith in backlash of politics Washington Times, Everything is a big word, but I guess Hitchens means it. As I write in my new book, The Faith, about to be published early next year, in the first-century Roman Empire, slavery was a fact of life—one which the writings of the New Testament reflect. Given this liberating ideal, it was only a matter of time before Christians sought to remove slavery from the Christian culture entirely.

It is true that Christians have not always lived up to these teachings: The record of the Church is not without blemish. But it is also true that when Christians kept and traded slaves, they were going against the teachings of their own religion. The theological question had long been settled. Thus, when Spanish and Portuguese traders brought slavery to the New World, successive popes condemned the practice and even threatened to excommunicate slave traders and slave holders.

The fact that they could not force European monarchs to obey them should not be held against Christianity—especially not by those who complain about Christians trying to impose their religion on others. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the fight against slavery and the slave trade was led by Christians like William Wilberforce in Britain and William Garrison in America. Like their early Church counterparts, they were motivated by Christian teaching on human dignity and equality. Wilberforce and company succeeded despite the economic interests, not because of them. True, there are shameful episodes in Christian history.

How odd, then, that Hitchens and other militant atheists feel they have license to distort the facts when arguing against religion. Writers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have to convince people that morals and values are possible in a society that does not believe in God. Of course they can, just as a professing Christian can do bad things. The issue is whether the secular worldview can provide a basis for a good society.


Can it motivate and inspire people to be virtuous and generous? According to him, natural selection has produced a moral sense that is shared by all people. Thus, according to him, natural selection has produced what we call altruism. Except, of course, that it is not altruism at all: It is, at most, enlightened self-interest. Being unable to account for human altruism is not enough for Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation. In contrast, the record of avowedly atheistic regimes is, shall we say, less than inspiring.

Atheist regimes like the Soviet Union, Red China, and Cambodia killed tens of millions of people in an effort to establish an atheistic alternative to the City of God. For men like Stalin and Mao, people were expendable precisely because they were not created in the image of a personal God. Instead, they were objects being manipulated by impersonal historical forces. One atheist understood the moral consequences of his unbelief: That was Nietzsche, who argued that God is dead, but acknowledged that without God there could be no binding and objective moral order.

Instead, they unconvincingly argue that you can have the benefits of an altruistic, Christian-like morality without God.

The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark: | Books

Just in case his readers are not convinced, however, he then pulls out the really big gun: Religious belief is a kind of child abuse. He means that teaching a child about Christianity can damage them psychologically and emotionally. Obviously, what Dawkins writes about Catholicism is equally true about any Christian tradition whose teaching is grounded in Scripture. But someone will, so it is important to correct the record.

Yes, Christianity teaches that there is a Hell and that the unrepentant wicked will spend eternity there. But it also teaches that through His death and resurrection, Jesus freed those who believe in Him from that fate. The idea that there is nothing beyond the grave is the stuff of countless anxieties. And, as Dostoevsky wrote, without belief in a God who judges us, human evil goes unchecked—that is, there is no justice.

Surely, there is more to religion and children than teaching them about Hell. There certainly is: Sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton studied the impact of religious practice on American teenagers. They are getting their message out, in best-selling books and in page-one articles in major newspapers like the Washington Post. Their message is simple: There is no God, and people who believe there is a God are simply being irrational.

But is faith in God truly irrational? The much-respected philosopher Alvin Plantinga is well-versed in the arguments employed by these atheists. Plantinga then asks them whether it is rational to believe that other people have minds. There are other reasons why belief in God is rational, which I discuss in The Faith, my new book, to be published in January. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the universe is the product of intelligence, not chance.

This and similar evidence make belief in God far from an irrational leap in the dark, much less a delusion, as Dawkins says. Even atheist Richard Dawkins admits that there is a one-in-seven chance that God might exist. He simply chooses to take, as he sees it, the six-in-seven chances that God does not exist. The great philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote that if there is no God, and you bet your life there is, you have lost nothing.

But if there is a God, and you bet your life there is not, you have made an eternal mistake. Or put it this way: If Dr. Dawkins had been on the Titanic and was offered two lifeboats—one certain to sink and the other with a one-in-seven chance of staying afloat—he would not have chosen the one that was sure to sink. That would be irrational. But there is another kind of evidence for the rationality of belief in God: that is, its impact on human lives and society. As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, people noticed that, compared to the squalor and general hopelessness of Rome, Christians lived a profoundly different, more hopeful life.

This difference made conversion to Christianity a rational choice. The same thing is true today: Studies of evangelization show that people come to Christianity because it delivers the results. It changes families, which atheistic worldviews cannot. Philosopher Mortimer Adler, one of the great intellectuals of the twentieth century, believed Christianity was true, but refused to accept it because it would interfere with his lifestyle. In time, he overcame that objection and became a Christian, which, given the evidence, was the only rational thing to do.

In a recent issue of Scientific American , arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss discussed the relationship between science and religion. Neither Dawkins nor Krauss comes close to proving this. Instead, Dawkins and Krauss simply assume that materialism—the idea that there is nothing besides matter—is true.

Dawkins and Krauss do not offer any arguments to justify their assumptions. They do not tell us why materialism is true: Instead, they ask you to take its truth as a given—in other words, on faith. Speaking of faith, what Dawkins means by the word faith is, to put it politely, idiosyncratic. His technique, on display in the Scientific American piece, is to find the most extreme, fringe Christian positions and ascribe them to all Christians. He then cites these beliefs as proof that all Christian faith is irrational. Faraday was a devout Christian who believed nature to be intelligible because it was created and upheld by a God who made Himself known in both His Word and in nature.

Rodney Stark, the eminent sociologist, writes that Christianity rescued reason. Christians saw reason as a gift of a rational God, and it could, therefore, be used to explore the universe and world that God had made. This belief made modern science possible. If you meet someone who says your Christian faith is irrational, ask him to explain the basis of his faith. To his credit other New York Times columnists do not generally agree to debate anything they write — Paul Krugman, for example, has refused to discuss his new book on liberalism with me , Cohen agreed to come on my show, and proved to be a charming guest.

There is no doubt that Western Europe abandoned religion and opted for secularism largely because of the blood spilled in religious wars, just as it abandoned nationalism because of all the blood it spilled in the name of nationalism during World War I. However, Cohen and others who argue for a secular society ignore the even heavier price in blood Europe has paid for secular fervor. Secular fervor, i.

This point is so obvious, and so devastating to the pro-secularists, that you wonder how they deal with it. This response completely avoids the issue. Communism and Nazism were indeed religion-like in their hold on people, but they were completely secular movements and doctrines. In fact, the emergence of communism and Nazism in an increasingly secular Europe is one of the most powerful arguments for the need for Judeo-Christian religions.

Cohen gives no examples, and though this charge is constantly repeated by many on the left, I have yet to figure out what exactly these critics mean. If so, why is this objectionable? What are those who derive their values from religion supposed to do — stay out of the political process? Are only those who derive their values from secular sources or their own hearts allowed to attempt to influence the political process? It seems that this is precisely what Cohen and other secularists argue. But they are not even consistent here. I recall no secularist who protested that those, like the Rev.

Cohen and his fellow Europeans sound paranoid here.

Five Great books from Rodney Stark

President Bush has invoked God less than most presidents in American history, and the examples Cohen offers are thoroughly innocuous. At least in my lifetime, it is the secular left that has embraced far more irrationality than the religious right. It was people on the secular left, not anyone on the religious right, who found Marxism, one of the most irrational doctrines in history, rational.

It was only on the secular left that people morally equated the United States and the Soviet Union. It was secular leftists, not religious Jews or Christians, who believed the irrational nonsense that men and women were basically the same. It is overwhelmingly among the secular and religious left that people have bought into the myriad irrational hysterias of my lifetime — without zero population growth humanity will begin to starve, huge mortality rates in America from heterosexual AIDS, mass death caused by secondhand smoke, and now destruction of the planet by man-induced global warming.

I bet everything on the religious. There is no question but that most religious people have irrational religious views. However, as I wrote in my last column, theology and values are not the same. I am convinced that the human being is programmed to believe in the non-rational. The healthy religious confine their irrationality to their theologies and are quite rational on social issues. On the other hand, vast numbers of secular people in the West have done the very opposite — rejected irrational religiosity and affirmed irrational social beliefs.

It seems atheists have developed a comprehensive strategy to win the minds of the next generation. Many people think that the secularization of the minds of our young people is the inevitable consequence of learning and maturing. In fact, it is to a large degree orchestrated by teachers and professors to promote anti-religious agendas. Why the hostility to religion? If religion is so bad, what should be done about it? It should be eradicated.

Still the same could have been said about efforts to abolish slavery at the end of the eighteenth century. But how should religion be eliminated? Our atheist educators have a short answer: through the power of science. One way in which science can undermine the plausibility of religion, according to biologist E. Wilson, is by showing that the mind itself is the product of evolution and that free moral choice is an illusion.

By abolishing all transcendent or supernatural truths, science can establish itself as the only source of truth, our only access to reality. What, then, happens to religion? Zoos are now more or less seen as second class havens for endangered species, but at least they are havens, and what they preserve is irreplaceable. How is all this to be achieved? The answer is simple: through indoctrination in the schools. In his book Breaking the Spell , Dennett urges that schools teach religion as a purely natural phenomenon. By this he means that religion should be taught as if it were untrue.

As for atheism, Sam Harris argues that it should be taught as a mere extension of science and logic. It is not even a view of the world. It is simply an admission of the obvious…. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.

Of course, parents—especially Christian parents—might want to say something about all this. Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods? This is how many secular teachers treat the traditional beliefs of students.

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The strategy is not to argue with religious views or to prove them wrong. Rather, it is to subject them to such scorn that they are pushed outside the bounds of acceptable debate. This strategy is effective because young people who go to good colleges are extremely eager to learn what it means to be an educated Harvard man or Stanford woman. Consequently their teachers can very easily steer them to think a certain way merely by making that point of view seem fashionable and enlightened. Similarly, teachers can pressure students to abandon what their parents taught them simply by labeling those positions as simplistic and unsophisticated.

Children spend the majority of their waking hours in school. Parents invest a good portion of their life savings in college education and entrust their offspring to people who are supposed to educate them. The signs are everywhere. And nearly half of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, would be willing to vote for an atheist for president of the United States of America — a nation founded by devout Christians.

In earlier eras, atheists were on the fringes of society, mistrusted by the mainstream. No question about it. America was founded by Christians. Its very purpose for being was the furtherance of biblical Christianity, according to the Pilgrims and succeeding generations. Almost all of the Founding Fathers who drafted and signed the Constitution were Christian believers.

Even U. Today, however, many Americans are infatuated with outright, full-bore atheism. Somehow, atheism — just like homosexuality, which used to be considered shameful and something to hide — is now becoming hip, sophisticated, enlightened, even a badge of honor. Can we possibly fail to see it now?

As Christians, we are unavoidably engaged in a great battle of worldviews—a conflict over the most basic issues of truth and meaning. At the heart of this controversy lies the irreducible obstacle of biblical authority. As a matter of fact, it may be impossible to overestimate the true depth of postmodern antipathy to the Bible—at least to the Bible as an authoritative revelation from God. Just consider what the modern secular mind confronts in the Bible. In the terminology of postmodern academic discourse, this means that the Bible claims to present absolute and non-negotiable truth that effectively trumps all other authorities.

In an intellectual context of personal autonomy and individual self-expression, this appears to represent an unfair imposition of authority and a violation of the contract theory that lies at the heart of the modern experiment. And the Bible contains so much material that runs against the moral sense of a largely-secularized society. The Bible begins with a straight-forward declaration of divine creation, complete with a divine design for every aspect of the created order. Then, we confront the creation of human beings as made in the image of God, and thus uniquely gifted and accountable as moral and spiritual creatures.

And, we add, human beings are made male and female to the glory of the Creator. This is no vision of gender differences as mere social construction. Marriage immediately follows as the divinely-designed institution for human ordering, reproduction, sexuality, and romantic fulfillment. Marriage—the union of one man and one woman—is presented as an objective reality constituted as a moral covenant with legal and moral boundaries, not as a contract to be made, remade, or unmade at will.

Then comes sin.

The third chapter of Genesis clearly fails to meet muster in terms of modern psychotherapeutic expectations. Responsibility for sin is laid right at human feet; and the consequences of sin—downright repressive—are worse than draconian. Most troubling of all, sin is presented as something that tells the truth about us—not merely the truth about a sinful world system. From beginning to end, the Bible undermines the modern secular worldview at its very foundation. To a culture deeply committed to a therapeutic worldview, this is just too much. Now that sin has been banished from our moral vocabulary, what are postmodern Americans to do with the Fall, the giving of the Law, the sacrificial system and blood atonement?

The Law is another stone of stumbling for the modern mind. Moral relativism rules the field of postmodern ethics, with laws seen as socially constructed and needlessly oppressive instruments of subjugation. Put simply, the postmodernist believes that the text means what the reader says it means, not what the author intended. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it might go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

The postmodernist demands a hermeneutic of suspicion, demanding that the text meet his expectations. The Bible sets down a hermeneutic of submission as God demands obedience from His people—nothing less. The Bible presents the living God, Creator of the entire cosmos, as a speaking God who addresses His people with authoritative revelation. The Lord does not invite His covenant people to speculate about His character, His power, or His purpose. He demands total obedience, even as He reveals his saving purpose and His sets down covenant. You shall have no other Gods before me.

The rest of the Old Testament continues the pattern and widens the divide. God elects Israel as His chosen people, inviting charges of ethnocentrism. Then, violating modern norms of war, Israel is charged to wage a holy war against pagan nations. God is presented as the supreme ruler of all nations, the only true Sovereign in a world of contending kingdoms. The prophets attack injustice and the abuse of privilege, within and without.

To these must be added claims of miracles, supernatural occurrences, prophets, and impositions of law. All this amounts to one great obstacle for so many modern people, whose worldview is so firmly established in secular terms that the Bible seems more of a problem than a solution. And what of the New Testament? Instead of refuting the Old Testament, the New Testament fulfills the Old, pushing the envelope of secular suspicion even further. Now we confront the great claim of the incarnation—that Jesus the Christ is fully God and fully man.

Miracles are documented, the teaching of Jesus is presented in full force, and the Gospel is laid before our eyes. Then come the cross and the empty tomb. The empty cross points to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the truth claims of the Gospel contradict any effort to reduce Jesus to a mere teacher or guide, a social activist or a proto-therapist.

And then, looming in the future, lies judgment. The realities of Heaven and Hell are presented as dual destinations for humanity, and the wrath of God is promised to be poured out upon sinners, even as the mercy of God is extended to all who have come to Christ by faith. The way to salvation is narrow; the road to destruction is wide. There is but one Savior and one way of salvation.

All this is just too much for the postmodern mind to handle. Christians are often perplexed by resistance to the Bible and to the Gospel. We tend to distance ourselves from the reality that the Bible sounds so exceedingly strange to modern and postmodern ears. We underestimate the distance of the divide between biblical Christianity and secular worldviews.

All this should remind us of our constant evangelistic and apologetic task—and of the fact that salvation is all by grace. Instead, our eyes were opened so that we would see. As we engage in the controversies and debates of this age, we had better keep that great fact always in the forefront of our thinking. Albert Mohler, Jr. As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:. That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. As a matter of fact, the researchers, whose report is summarized in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton, found that American teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their religious beliefs, and most are virtually unable to offer any serious theological understanding.

Either way, it is apparent that most religiously affiliated U. More importantly, it is a verbal cover for an embrace of relativism. The kind of responses found among many teenagers indicates a vast emptiness at the heart of their understanding. Amazingly, teenagers are not inarticulate in general. One other aspect of this study deserves attention at this point. The researchers, who conducted thousands of hours of interviews with a carefully identified spectrum of teenagers, discovered that for many of these teens, the interview itself was the first time they had ever discussed a theological question with an adult.

What does this say about our churches? What does this say about this generation of parents? In the end, this study indicates that American teenagers are heavily influenced by the ideology of individualism that has so profoundly shaped the larger culture. This bleeds over into a reflexive non-judgmentalism and a reluctance to suggest that anyone might actually be wrong in matters of faith and belief. Yet, these teenagers are unable to live with a full-blown relativism.

The researchers note that many responses fall along very moralistic lines—but they reserve their most non-judgmental attitudes for matters of theological conviction and belief. Clearly, this generalized conception of a belief system is what appears to characterize the beliefs of vast millions of Americans, both young and old.

This is an important missiological observation—a point of analysis that goes far beyond sociology. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.

In addition, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism presents a unique understanding of God. Most of the time, the God of this faith keeps a safe distance. Smith and his colleagues recognize that the deity behind Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is very much like the deistic God of the 18th-century philosophers. This is not the God who thunders from the mountain, nor a God who will serve as judge. This undemanding deity is more interested in solving our problems and in making people happy.

Obviously, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is not an organized faith. This belief system has no denominational headquarters and no mailing address. Nevertheless, it has millions and millions of devotees across the United States and other advanced cultures, where subtle cultural shifts have produced a context in which belief in such an undemanding deity makes sense. Furthermore, this deity does not challenge the most basic self-centered assumptions of our postmodern age. As sociologists, Smith and his team suggest that this Moralistic Therapeutic Deism may now constitute something like a dominant civil religion that constitutes the belief system for the culture at large.

How can you tell? Does this mean that America is becoming more secularized? Not necessarily. These researchers assert that Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by a quite different religious faith. This radical transformation of Christian theology and Christian belief replaces the sovereignty of God with the sovereignty of the self. In this therapeutic age, human problems are reduced to pathologies in need of a treatment plan.

Sin is simply excluded from the picture, and doctrines as central as the wrath and justice of God are discarded as out of step with the times and unhelpful to the project of self-actualization. All this means is that teenagers have been listening carefully. They have been observing their parents in the larger culture with diligence and insight. They understand just how little their parents really believe and just how much many of their churches and Christian institutions have accommodated themselves to the dominant culture.

They sense the degree to which theological conviction has been sacrificed on the altar of individualism and a relativistic understanding of truth. They have learned from their elders that self-improvement is the one great moral imperative to which all are accountable, and they have observed the fact that the highest aspiration of those who shape this culture is to find happiness, security, and meaning in life.

This research project demands the attention of every thinking Christian. Those who are prone to dismiss sociological analysis as irrelevant will miss the point. We must now look at the United States of America as missiologists once viewed nations that had never heard the gospel. Indeed, our missiological challenge may be even greater than the confrontation with paganism, for we face a succession of generations who have transformed Christianity into something that bears no resemblance to the faith revealed in the Bible.

Millions of Americans believe they are Christians, simply because they have some historic tie to a Christian denomination or identity. We now face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity. Christian Smith and his colleagues have performed an enormous service for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in identifying Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as the dominant religion of this American age.

Our responsibility is to prepare the church to respond to this new religion, understanding that it represents the greatest competitor to biblical Christianity. More urgently, this study should warn us all that our failure to teach this generation of teenagers the realities and convictions of biblical Christianity will mean that their children will know even less and will be even more readily seduced by this new form of paganism.

This study offers irrefutable evidence of the challenge we now face. Alister McGrath was more prescient than he knew when he published The Twilight of Atheism earlier this year. One of the most prominent atheists of the last century now says he believes there must be some kind of God, based on scientific evidence. Or, better yet, why not have Weblog spoil the ending for you?

Lewis explained in his autobiography that he moved first from atheism to theism and only later from theism to Christianity. Given your great respect for Christianity, do you think that there is any chance that you might in the end move from theism to Christianity?


But, if it did happen, I think it would be in some eccentric fit and doubtfully orthodox form: regular religious practice perhaps but without belief. But some things I am completely confident about. I would never regard Islam with anything but horror and fear because it is fundamentally committed to conquering the world for Islam. It was because the whole of Palestine was part of the land of Islam that Muslim Arab armies moved in to try to destroy Israel at birth, and why the struggle for the return of the still surviving refugees and their numerous descendents continue to this day.

But just think what would happen if one day you were pleasantly disposed toward Christianity and all of a sudden the resurrection of Jesus looked pretty good to you? Many people have commented that this is the best debate on the topic of Christianity v. Atheism that has yet been held. Following the debate, AOL posted the video on its main page, and asked people to make up their minds and vote on who won. Modesty prevents me from disclosing the answer. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion , watched the debate and reported with some agitation that the audience seemed to be applauding more for me than for Hitchens.

But if you listen to the debate, you will see that both atheists and believers were well represented. The audience applause was initially stronger for Hitchens, and only as the debate went on did it trend markedly toward me. One of the most interesting questions in the debate was posed to Hitchens by a man from Tonga.

Before the Christians came to Tonga, he said, the place was a mess. Even cannibalism was widespread. The Christians stopped this practice and brought to Tonga the notion that each person has a soul and God loves everyone equally. The man was asking why the Tongans, who had gained so much from Christianity, should reject it in favor of atheism. In my response, I noted that when the missionaries came to India, they sometimes converted people by force. Even so, many Indians rushed on their own to embrace the faith of the foreigners.

And why? Because they were born into the low caste of the Hindus. As long as they remained Hindus, there was no escape; even their descendants were condemned to the lowest rungs of humanity. By fleeing into the arms of the missionaries, the low-caste Hindus found themselves welcomed as Christian brothers.

They discovered the ideal of equal dignity in the eyes of God. If we look at the history of Western civilization, we find that Christianity has illuminated the greatest achievements of the culture. Read the new atheist books and make a list of the institutions and values that Hitchens and Dawkins and the others cherish the most. They value the idea of the individual, and the right to dissent, and science as an autonomous enterprise, and representative democracy, and human rights, and equal rights for women and racial minorities, and the movement to end slavery, and compassion as a social virtue.

But when you examine history you find that all of these values came into the world because of Christianity. If Christianity did not exist, these values would not exist in the form they do now. So there is indeed something great about Christianity, and the honest atheist should be willing to admit this. The real question to ask is, what does atheism offer humanity? In Tonga, as in America, the answer appears to be: Nothing.

Klinghoffer, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and former literary editor at National Review, recently took questions about the book, his city, and our culture from National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez. David Klinghoffer: Imagine secularism as a religion without a deity. You could hardly find a city more pious in its secularism than Seattle.

I ask what happens to a culture when it detaches ideas about right and wrong from any grounding in a belief in God. My friend Dan Sytman did a series of street interviews on this.

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I lived in New York under Dinkins and Giuliani, so I saw the moment when New Yorkers got fed up with the rule of the street by the Youths, that wonderful euphemism. This neighborhood, in terms of tourist traffic, is the New York equivalent of that stretch of Fifth Avenue from St. The other morning an work-colleague of mine got off the bus at — in the A. This was a couple of blocks from our office. First thing she saw was a couple having sex against the side of a fountain across from Westlake Center.

She then walked a few feet and saw a huge, shaven-headed, tattoo-covered guy screaming at and threatening a man who was holding a briefcase. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. An intriguing, if at times over-reaching work. Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. Email address:. Please provide an email address. Categories of Interest: Select All. Current Affairs. Historical Fiction. True Crime.