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The Illusion Of Certainty: How the Flawed Beliefs of Religion Harm Our Culture by James T. Houk at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Illusion Of Certainty: How the Flawed Beliefs of Religion Harm Our Culture

James T. Houk



Religion & beliefs;
Agnosticism & atheism


400 pages

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In this examination of religion's influence on society, an anthropologist critiques fundamentalism and all mindsets based on rigid cultural certainties. The author argues that the future can only be safeguarded by a global humanistic outlook that recognizes and respects differing cultural perspectives and endorses the use of critical reason and empiricism. Houk coins the term culturalism to describe dogmatic viewpoints governed by culture-specific values and preconceived notions. Culturalism gives rise not only to fundamentalism in religion but also stereotypes about race, gender, and sexual orientation.Turning specifically to Christian fundamentalism, the author analyzes the many weaknesses of what he calls a faith-based epistemology, particularly as such thinking is displayed in young-earth creationism, the reliance on revelation and subjective experiences as a source of religious knowledge, and the reverence accorded the Bible despite its obvious flaws. As he points out, the problem with such cultural knowledge generally is that it is non-falsifiable and ultimately has no lasting value in contrast to the data-based and falsifiable knowledge produced by science, which continues to prove its worth as a reliable source of accurate information.Concluding that there is no future to the fundamentalist mindset in a diverse world where religion often exacerbates conflicts, he makes a strong case for reason and mutual tolerance.

By:   James T. Houk
Imprint:   Prometheus
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 225mm,  Width: 150mm,  Spine: 29mm
Weight:   458g
ISBN:   9781633883239
ISBN 10:   163388323X
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   March 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Forthcoming

James Houk is a professor of anthropology at Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, LA. A Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Houk received his PhD in anthropology from Tulane University and has done extensive fieldwork in Trinidad, Jamaica, and India. He is the author of Introduction to Anthropology- An Interactive Text and Spirits, Blood, and Drums- The Orisha Religion in Trinidad, as well as the novel Humanus Diabolicus- A Postmodern Prophecy.

PRAISE FOR JAMES HOUK'S SPIRITS, BLOOD, AND DRUMS -This monograph enlarges our understanding of ritual systems embedded in a modern, complex society. . . . Thanks to its rich fieldwork material, it is a highly valuable contribution to our knowledge of a contemporary religious field in the Caribbean.- --American Ethnologist -The study of the 'Afro-American religious complex' in Trinidad is a monumental task. . . . Spirits, Blood, and Drums provides ample data and firsthand explanations for the many facets of Orisha worship. Perhaps too complicated for introductory classes, the book should be useful in upper level Afro-American religion courses and required reading for graduate students.- -- Ethnologies -This welcome study gives much needed attention to the various roots and influences within the Orisha complex in Trinidad and serves to establish James Houk as a leading scholar of African-Caribbean religions. Must reading for Trinidad specialists. Highly recommended.- --Stephen D. Glazier, University of Nebraska

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