Books in Brief

Listing here does not preclude a full review in a later issue.—Eds.

Christian Nation, by Frederic C. Rich (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013, 978-0-393-24011-5) 342 pp. Hardcover $25.95. What if the McCain/Palin presidential ticket had been victorious in 2008? What if McCain died and Palin became president? So begins the realization of the dream of some Christian fundamentalists—and it is a nightmare for the United States. Constitutional protection is dismantled and authoritarian law takes over.

Einstein’s Jewish Science: Physics at the Intersection of Politics and Religion, by Steven Gimbel (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4214-0554-4). 245 pp. Notes, Bibliography, and Index. Hardcover $24.95. Gimbel, an award-winning teacher, author, and chair of the Philosophy Department at Gettysburg College, presents an examination of how beliefs, background, and environment influence the work of scientists, as well as the official reception of their work. His focus is on Albert Eintsein and the Nazi’s denigration of his theory of relativity as “Jewish science.”

God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Religion, by Victor J. Stenger (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61614-599-6). Notes, Bibliography, and Index. 408 pp. Softcover $20.00. Through an historical survey from ancient Greek science through the Renaissance and Enlightenment to contemporary advances in physics and cosmology, Stenger refutes the argument that religion, especially Christianity, helped the development of science. Instead science was held back for nearly one thousand years and only experienced the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century after the power of the church began to wane. Even today, however, religion can foster destructive antiscientific attitudes.

Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal, by Michael D’Antonio (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, 2013, ISBN, hardcover 978-0-312-59489, e-book 978-1-250-03439-7). 432 pp. Hardcover $26.99. The author examines the child sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and how it unfolded over three decades: he condemns the church culture of secrecy as well as the crimes.

Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, by Avi Tuschman (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2013, ISBN hardcover 978-1-61614-823-2, e-book 978-1-61614-824-9). Appendices, Notes, and Index. 543 pp. Hardcover $24.95, e-book $12.99. An evolutionary anthropologist traces our political orientations to clusters of measurable personality traits that shape attitudes toward such things as tribalism, inequality, and human nature. One chapter examines “Religiosity vs. Secularism.”

Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus, by Richard C. Carrier (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61614-559-0). Notes and Index. 390 pp. Hardcover $28.00. Most scholars have come to the conclusion that the Jesus of the Bible is a composite of myth, legend, and some historical evidence. But the conceptions of the original Jesus differ greatly. In this book, the author proposes Bayes’s theorem to solve the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria.

Secret Scrolls: Revelations from the Lost Gospel Novels, by Robert M. Price (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011, ISBN 978-1-61097-075-4). Footnotes and Bibliography, 349 pp., Softcover $39.00. The discovery of a lost gospel has been the focal point of many works of fiction, with varying plot turns. The “discovery” is a hoax and the tension lies in whether that will be revealed in time; it is genuine but risks being covered up by corrupt church officials, etc. This book looks at forty such stories and what popular culture reveals about challenges to faith and the effects.

Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, by Andrew G. Bostom (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61614-666-5). Notes and Index. 735 pp. Hardcover $32.00. The author expands upon his two previous compendia, The Legacy of Jihad and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, with this collection of essays on sharia. He explains the religious principles behind sharia and the consequences of its application, focusing on contemporary illustrations. He examines studies and polling data on Islam and finds the use of sharia to be growing, and he gives voice to Muslim freethinkers as well as believers who find sharia incompatible with modern, Western-derived conceptions of universal human rights.

What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?, by John Corvino (New York: Oxford  University Press, 2013, ISBN 9780199856312) 170 pp. Hardcover $22.95. The author is an associate professor and chair of the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University who speaks and writes frequently on LGBT issues. In this latest book, he sets the parameters of the moral debate and argues that the right to same-sex marriage is an issue of public as well as private morality, and why same-sex relationships are good. Along the way he explores many topics, including religious arguments against homosexuality and their relevance to morality and public policy.

What You Don’t Know about Religion (but should), by Ryan T. Cragun (Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013, ISBN hardcover 978-0-9852815-3-3, softcover 978-0-9852815-4-0). Appendix, Notes, Bibliography, and Index. 278 pp. Hardcover $24.95. Sociologist Cragun lets the scientific data answer common questions about the nature and state of religion. Why are people religious? Are they happier? Are people becoming more or less religious? Atheists as well as religious fundamentalists may find the answers surprising.


Brief looks at a variety of books.

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