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Religion is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail Paperback – July 24, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (July 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813539552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813539553
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Loyal Rue has written a bold, scholarly, and gracefully composed discussion of the complex realtions between the concepts of God and religion. I learned a great deal from the rich tapestry of facts that filled the gaps in my understanding of the history of these ideas and believe that readers will enjoy a similar intellectual experience.
(Jerome Kagan research Professor of Psychology, Harvard University)

About the Author

Loyal Rue, two-time Templeton Award winner, is a professor of philosophy and religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 94 people found the following review helpful By calmly on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Almost half the book, a good part of Part 2, is devoted to explaining the gist of 5 major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For anyone interested in getting a good grasp of what any or all of these religions is about, I'd recommend this book for this benefit alone. Much of the chapter on Buddhism was superb: the difficult teaching of "no self" is explained as well as I've seen it presented anywhere. Similarly the heart of Islam seems well explained (in just a 27 page chapter): for anyone who doesn't appreciate the power of Islam, I'd strongly recommend this chapter. The other 3 religions are also presented with care and apparent respect.

I had, however, a number of problems with the book:

1. The presentation seems Pollyanna-ish, despite Rue's concerns at the end of book of the future of religion. For example, the chapter on Christianity doesn't mention early Christianity's persecution of Gnostic Christians and destruction of their literature, nor the Inquisition, nor the European wars between Protestants and Catholics, nor recent problems such as those in Northern Ireland. Rue's claim of "social coherence" as a key benefit of religions seems questionable, yet he seems not disposed to questioning it.

Rue claims the goals of "personal wholeness and social coherence" with only a brief warning that religious institutions might abuse their regulatory activity. B.F. Skinner devoted a chapter of "Science and Human Behavior" to the issues of religous control. Do Rue's appeals to human nature establish that a regard for "personal wholeness" is a key factor in religions?
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cavanaugh on March 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I finished this book over a month ago, and it will not leave my mind. In fact I have decided to use it as the subject of my upcoming series of Sunday School lessons, and explaining my planned presentation will be the best way to convey the book to you. First I will make a HUGE spreadsheet filling one wall of the room. At the top I will put the title and Rue's opening question about whether there can even be such a thing as a "theory of religion" (in his persuasive opinion there can, largely because we humans are similar enough for many commonalities to find their way into our religions even despite the profound diversity our various cultures produce).

Then I will make 8 columns.

In the left column I will list the various characteristics of all Religions which Rue discusses (I won't list them all here because some explanation and subdivision is required for each, but to give a flavor of this column I will say here that Rue discusses 1) the education of the emotions; 2) the various strategies used by religion - intellectual, experiential, ritualistic, and aesthetic, both at the individual and institutional levels; and 3) two overriding religious functions, namely increasing personal wholeness and enhancing social cohesiveness.

The next 5 columns (2-6) will be for the classical traditions which Rue discusses (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism). In each case I will fill in how each tradition fulfills the theory as presented in Column One.

The next column (#7) will be for Consumerism as a Religion, and the last column (#8) will be for Religious Naturalism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian Asalone on September 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that requires some thought as you read it. It is not a polemic against your particular religion but more of an analysis of the place that religion plays in human culture. I don’t always agree with what the author has to say here but his insights are useful and thought provoking.
Rue starts his analysis by looking at human nature at almost an “intro to biology” level to build the case for how humans are influenced and where the emotive effects of religion are manifest. He then follows with a review of several major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and finally Buddhism. Honestly I found the first 3 interesting but was less interested the latter two. Being more familiar with the religions allows the reader to see the point Rue is making. One can see elements that allow the tie in with society and human influence.
The third and final section of Rue’s book deals first with the crisis religion has today in a modern multi-centric world. I found this less compelling only because I can see how difficult it would be to sustain “myth-reality” not just from one challenge (i.e. science) but multiple, (nation states, commercialism, science, competing belief exposure). Rue deals with these individually, but the religious belief system anyone carries would have to deal with all at once. It is very interesting that he goes into some detail about commercialism and points up the same elements that it uses like religion to influence people. I don’t think this is tongue in cheek as one reviewer suggests, I think Rue is right on the money.
The final chapter is rightfully entitled doomsday as Rue spells out the looming ecologic disaster that we human beings are inflicting on this planet. Be warned it is truly depressing.
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Religion is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture our Biological Nature and What to Expect When They Fail
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