Tackling a host of myths and prejudices commonly leveled at atheism, this captivating volume bursts with sparkling, eloquent arguments on every page. The authors rebut claims that range from atheism being just another religion to the alleged atrocities committed in its name. An accessible yet scholarly commentary on hot-button issues in the debate over religious belief. Teaches critical thinking skills through detailed, rational argument. Objectively considers each myth on its merits. Includes a history of atheism and its advocates, an appendix detailing atheist organisations and an extensive bibliography. Explains the differences between atheism and related concepts such as agnosticism and naturalism.
What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltering in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? And why has belief thrived ever since, leading us to invent heaven and hell, sin and redemption, and above all, gods? Religion reflects our deepest hopes and fears; whether you are a believer or, like Matthew Kneale, a non-believer who admires mankind's capacity to create and to imagine, it has shaped our world. And as our dreams and nightmares have changed over the millennia, so have our beliefs - from shamans to Aztec priests, from Buddhists to Christians: the gods we created have evolved with us. Belief is humanity's most epic invention. It has always been our closest companion and greatest consolation. To understand it is to better understand ourselves.
For most people in England today, the church is simply the empty building at the end of the road, visited for the first time, if at all, when dead. It offers its sacraments to a population that lives without rites of passage, and which regards the National Health Service rather than the National Church as its true spiritual guardian. In Our Church, Scruton argues that the Anglican Church is the forlorn trustee of an architectural and artistic inheritance that remains one of the treasures of European civilization. He contends that it is a still point in the centre of English culture and that its defining texts, the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are the sources from which much of our national identity derives. At once an elegy to a vanishing world and a clarion call to recognize Anglicanism's continuing relevance, Our Church is a graceful and persuasive book.
Muhammad's was a life of almost unparalleled historical importance; yet for all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality. Hazleton's account follows the arc of Muhammad's rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance. How did a child shunted to the margins end up revolutionizing his world? How did a merchant come to challenge the established order with a new vision of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca turn exile into a new and victorious beginning? How did the outsider become the ultimate insider? Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazleton's narrative creates vivid insight into a man navigating between idealism and pragmatism, faith and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. The First Muslim illuminates not only an immensely significant figure but his lastingly relevant legacy.
In this collection of real-life stories, Jim B. Tucker, a notable US medical scientist investigates children's experiences of past lives. We are all familiar with Buddhist tales of reincarnation, but this book focuses on ordinary kids in suburban homes across the US and elsewhere. In Return to Life, Tucker asks the ultimate question: Does any part of our mind survive after death? His focus on children gives him an opportunity to observe the phenomenon without the baggage and biases of adult life. There is the story of Patrick, born twelve years after his brother, Kevin, tragically died of cancer. Patrick, throughout his childhood, bore the physical marks of his brother's illness, but none of the actual symptoms, and had remarkable recall of his brother's short life. Or the story of the boy, James from Louisiana who from the age of two is convinced he was a World War II pilot, and is able describe the pilot's life and details of the crash that killed him.
What is God?Does he exist?Can we know? The God Confusion offers a down-to-earth beginner's guide for anyone interested in these questions. It does not evangelize for God and religion or, indeed, for atheism, secularism and science. Instead, it explores in a witty yet objective and balanced way the idea of God and the strengths and weaknesses of the standard arguments for his existence. Gary Cox shows that the philosophical reasoning at the heart of these arguments is logically incapable of moving beyond speculation to any kind of proof. The only credible philosophical position is therefore agnosticism. The God Confusion defends science generally and the theory of evolution in particular. It argues that if religion is not to appear increasingly outdated and ridiculous in the eyes of free-thinking, educated people, it must accommodate science and accept that science has replaced the old God of the gaps as an explanation of natural phenomena. Concluding that God may or may not exist, on the grounds that science, philosophy and theology are inherently incapable of proving or disproving his existence, The God Confusion acknowledges that religious faith based on a deliberate commitment to live as though there is a moral God is a coherent notion and a worthwhile, even prudent enterprise. At the same time, it rejects the idea of inner certainty as mere wishful thinking, arguing that it is not a coherent basis for belief and is simply bad faith.
The Brick Bible series has taken the world by storm, and now, for the first time, Brendan Powell Smith's visually striking The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament and The Brick Bible: The New Testament are available in a beautiful hardcover box set. With over two thousand color photographs depicting the major narrative scenes of the Bible, this slipcovered set (including new material and a bonus double-sided, full-color poster) is the gift you've been wanting to give your LEGO-loving friends and religious family members for holidays, birthdays, or just because. Book one includes scenes from the Old Testament-the creation of the world, the temptation of Adam and Eve, the great flood, the presentation of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and more. The Old Testament is a complex text, but Smith's brick illustrations help bring out the nuances of each scene and will make you reconsider the way you look at the Bible-and LEGO. Book two offers a new spin on the story of Jesus. Smith portrays Jesus' birth, miracles, last supper, and death and resurrection with meticulous attention to detail. From the fate of Judas to the life of Paul and his letters to the Ephesians; from the first book burning to the book of Revelations, this is the New Testament as you've never experienced it before. Find a place on your shelf for this beautiful two-book collector's set and continue to be amazed at the Bible as illustrated by your favorite toy.
This fascinating study of the life and work of Julian of Norwich, the 14th century English mystic, whose Revelations is among the most popular and influential works of Christian mysticism, is the first book to combine an historical reconstruction of Julian's life in 14th century Norwich with a comprehensive commentary on her Revelations in a new and faithful translation from the Middle English. Unlike other brief summaries of Julian's life and times, this book goes in-depth to uncover the political, cultural, social, and religious milieu that formed and deeply influenced her development as a woman and a mystic. Additionally, unlike other textual companions to Julian's work that provide only short explanations of Middle English words, or merely footnote theological terms, this work gives the reader a detailed analysis of her writings, illuminating her ground-breaking mystical theology with extensive scholarship. Throughout, the book creates a strong dramatic arc for Julian's Revelations that interweaves her personal sufferings and burning questions with her visionary experiences, producing a compelling spiritual biography.
In conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In April of 2006, the prominent Japanese cultural anthropologist Noriyuki Ueda sat down with the Dalai Lama for a two day conversation. This book is based on that long and lively conversation in Dharamsala. In this little book, the two men explore whether there is a place in religious practice for anger against social injustice, the role of competition in spiritual life, conditional versus unconditional love, and the soullessness of materialism. One of the real pleasures of this book is the Dalai Lama's uncharacteristic candor. For example: 'I am not only a socialist but also a bit of a leftist, a Communist.' 'I hold the position of a high monk, a big lama. Unless I exercise self restraint, there is every possibility for me to exploit others.' He also argues that rather than suppressing anger, Buddhism embraces using anger to precipitate social change. In other words anger can be an important spiritual practice. This book offers a unique perspective on the Dalai Lama's political and spiritual views. And it guides the reader through the complex reality of what it means to practice compassion in the here and now.
This book offers novice Yoga practitioners a solid foundation on which to begin or build their personal practice. Written by two highly-respected Yoga teachers and scholars in the West -- Georg Feuerstein and his wife Brenda Feuerstein -- the book will also augment Yoga teacher trainings, and provide current Yoga teachers with an invaluable text to use with or recommend to their new students. Yoga stands for spiritual discipline, as it was developed in India over thousands of years. This is the focus and purpose of this book: to provide a simple introduction to the authentic teachings of Yoga. While Yoga traditionally included physical postures, this was just one aspect of practice. Mental discipline was counted as far more important. Above all, Yoga was wrapped into an overall spiritual framework. Every single discipline had the purpose of helping the practitioner to grow toward inner (or spiritual) freedom. This reader-friendly handbook is divided into two sections. In Part 1 the authors establish the substructure of Yoga, with short essays that cover basic principles: the meaning of Yoga, the practice, the types, the deeper commitment and levels. They go on to explain practical applications of Yogic philosophy to all aspects of life, including: diet, working with the mind, livelihood, and the transcendence of ego. In Part 2, a unique question and answer format, they address 30 of the most widely-asked questions by newcomers to this path. Their straightforward and highly-authoritative responses will give any practitioner a more direct understanding of the issues involved in adopting Yoga as a practice, a lifestyle, a spiritual philosophy. Without denying that modern practitioners of the physical postures of Yoga are significantly helped by them, the Feuersteins emphasise the so much more! The core power of Yoga -- which is in its spiritual and ethical wisdom -- remains untapped in so many contemporary approaches. This book seeks to address that lack. Build a solid practice within the matrix of traditional Yoga principles. A book for yoga novices, teachers, teacher-training classes, studio bookstores and libraries, and for university and public libraries everywhere.
Thou shalt not be confused by world religions anymore! Need to learn about our different faiths for class or just to satisfy your curiosity? World Religions DeMYSTiFieD is your key to Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Islam - and how they're linked. Inside you will learn the significant rituals, celebrations, and traditions of these religions, and the sacred texts and religious art of each faith. You'll also get an inside look at earth-based religions and the native traditions of Australia, Africa, and the Americas. This easy-to-use guide makes learning about world religions simple by walking you step-by-step through the fundamentals of the subject. You read and study at your own pace with helpful text that avoids confusing jargon. Each chapter concludes with a self-test that allows you to track your progress, and a comprehensive final exam at the end of the book gives you instant feedback on new knowledge.
This study of the nature of our moral obligations to alleviate suffering on a global level addresses many of the vexing questions that face practitioners of Christian compassion: how do we avoid a kind of poverty tourism or slacktivism in our response to suffering, particularly far from home? How do we respond authentically and effectively in our strategies for solidarity with the poor and the underprivileged? Using personal anecdotes as well as philosophical and theological reflection, Donald and James Dunson emphasize the power of moral argument as well as personal experience in addressing what can seem an insurmountable catalog of evils and suffering in the world. Approaching these issues from a number of backgrounds academic philosophy, pastoral counseling, theology, social science, and narrative approaches Dunson and Dunson have created a text perfect for use with high school and college classrooms, immersion groups, parish study groups, and service-learning programs.
This fascinating examination of the earliest years of Christianity reveals how the man we call St. Paul shaped Christianity as we know it today. Historians know almost nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message. During this time Paul joined the movement and began to preach to the gentiles. Using the oldest Christian documents that we have--the letters of Paul--as well as other early Chris-tian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James to introduce his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached. Paul and Jesus illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism.
Hercules battled gods, men and monsters in a lifetime of violence and destruction. Today, Hercules is best known for his 'twelve labours', a series of near-impossible tasks assigned to him as punishment for the killing of his wife and children. During those tasks, he slew the multi-headed hydra, wrestled with Cerberus, hound of the underworld, and stole the girdle of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. Yet even when his labours were done, his adventures continued. Hercules led armies, sacked cities, fought against the gods, and then joined forces with the gods in the great war known as 'The Gigantomachy'. This book tells the complete story of this legendary warrior, including information on the classical sources, his deification and cult, and his continuing popularity as a character in film, television and comic books.
* Reimagines the Epic of Gilgamesh in the context of Sitchin's discoveries * Details ancient Sumerian sex rituals, the Anunnaki lineage of the gods who lived in Sumer, Anunnaki spacecraft technology, the workings of the Oracle of Anu and Gilgamesh's relationship with the goddess Ishtar Retelling the Epic of Gilgamesh in the context of his discoveries about the Anunnaki, Zecharia Sitchin weaves a tale of ancient ceremony, accidental betrayal, gods among men, interplanetary travel and a quest for immortality spanning millennia. Written in secret so as not to incite criticism about his controversial discoveries, this novel from the late Zecharia Sitchin, brings to life the key themes of his bestseller The 12th Planet. The story begins in London as Astra arrives at the British Museum's opening for their new Gilgamesh exhibit. There she meets a handsome stranger who knows secrets about her that no stranger should know, including the source of the unusual scar on her hand. Taking her to his apartment, he reveals that she is descended from the goddess Ishtar and that he is the modern-day avatar of Gilgamesh seeking to claim the eternal life Ishtar denied him so long ago. Reenacting their sacred sex ritual from eons ago, they find themselves transported to ancient Sumer as Gilgamesh and Ishtar, where he is at last able to continue his quest for immortality. But as Gilgamesh fulfills his sacred duties with Ishtar, something goes awry and the Oracle of Anu will not renew its blessing upon his kingship. Following the direction of his mother, the Anunnaki goddess Ninsun, the source of his partial divinity, Gilgamesh flees the city for the Anunnaki forbidden zone in search of a way to the planet Nibiru and eternal life. Travel alongside Gilgamesh and his immortal companion Enkidu as they escape the fate pronounced by the oracle. discover a Tablet of Destiny meant for Ishtar, fight off Marduk's raiders and foil the plot of the high priest, Gilgamesh's half-brother, who is seeking Gilgamesh's crown for himself.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) is one of the most famous and significant authors in the history of western esotericism. Crowley has been long ignored by scholars of religion whilst the stories of magical and sexual practice which circulate about him continue to attract popular interest. Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics looks at the man behind the myth - by setting him firmly within the politics of his time - and the development of his ideas through his extensive and extraordinarily varied writings. Crowley was a rationalist, sympathetic to the values of the Enlightenment, but also a romantic and a reactionary. His search for an alternative way to express his religious feelings led him to elaborate his own vision of social and political change. Crowley's complex politics led to his involvement with many key individuals, organisations and groups of his day - the secret service of various countries, the German Nazi party, Russian political activists, journalists and politicians of various persuasions, as well as other writers - both in Europe and America. Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics presents a life of ideas, an examination of a man shaped by and shaping the politics of his times.
The fascinating true history of ghosts - how we see them and why we believe in them, from Roger Clarke. What explains spectral sightings? Why do we fear the supernatural? What proof is there? Growing up in a haunted house, Roger Clarke spent much of his childhood trying to see a ghost. From the terrifying true events behind Henry James' The Turn of the Screw to the frenzy of the Cock Lane poltergeist, he takes us on a journey of belief with ghosts of every kind.
What sets this book apart from other astrology titles is Kriyananda's focus on the spiritual potential of each sun sign, rather than focusing mainly on the karmic limitations. It is so common to hear generalisations such as: Leo is proud and Taurus is stubborn. In his book Kriyananda shows how, with awareness, attention and will, one can cultivate the higher potential of one's sign, leading to greater fulfilment and success. Leo can shine as a channel of light and creativity, without pride, if they remember that Spirit (not ego) is the doer. Taurus can be the essence of loyalty and perseverance, without being stubborn, if they develop an inner fixity of purpose while practising an outward flexibility. In other words, the horoscope shows karmic patterns of energy. We can learn to work with these energies and develop their more refined, higher octaves which will then magnetise new possibilities into our lives. The fundamental point is that the horoscope shows one's karmic energy situation, but not who you really are - the spiritual Self within. Kriyananda's approach is to encourage and inspire one's Self to awaken and to express yourself through your sun sign. Within each of us is vast potential to be awakened. YOUR SUN SIGN AS A SPIRITUAL GUIDE is a beautifully inspiring book that will open doors and encourage one in this direction. This book also guides the seeker to an understanding of the subtle aspects of the spiritual path as it manifests for him through his particular sun sign. Yogic understanding is rich and often runs counter to prevailing thought. So too with astrology, the reader will find vistas of understanding opening as he takes the words and guidance of this yogic view of astrology to heart. This book reassures the reader that sun-sign weaknesses can be spiritual strengths if pursued rightly. It also warns one not to rest on the laurels of sun-sign strengths, but to go much deeper. Concentrated, deep wisdom is available to the seeker in this brief, easy-to-digest book that helps the reader to understand himself and others from a higher perspective.