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The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West Hardcover – July 18, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Royal is president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. Among his books are 1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History and The Virgin and the Dynamo: The Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1St Edition edition (July 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594031452
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594031458
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By History Lover on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have to respectfully disagree with the previous reviewer's comments about this book being a tedious read. Since the reviewer feels the need to stipulate that he has an advanced degree, I will preface my review by stating that I too have an advanced degree--and I think this book is a real tour de force!

TGTDNF lays out the whole panorama of the role of religion in the West clearly, calmly, and forcefully, and without resorting to the usual, sterile polemics. Robert Royal uses the latest secular scholarship to correct mis-impressions about our religious history that have become widespread because of the prejudices students are taught in schools and colleges.

Starting from chapters on ancient Greece and Rome, which offer a particularly fresh re-reading of the classics and their true relationship to the modern West, he carries the story down the centuries to the present day and shows how religious questions have become prominent again precisely because they can never be eliminated from any truly human society. At times, the narrative reminds you of the sweep of someone like the British historian Paul Johnson. But there's nothing quite like it out there in my opinion.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Jeri VINE VOICE on February 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What an interesting book. Royal sets out to prove that the secularists who argue that religion needs to be erradicated from civilization have it all wrong. He insists that Christianity created the western mind, with its unique blend of individualism, science, and democracy. Those who are secularists today are "currently engaged in a deeply incoherent and, in multiple ways, dangerous experiment" (xiii).

First off, and against much tradition, Royal states that the west did not begin in Greece. The Greeks and Romans, just as all eastern civilizations, believed in anakuklosis, that life followed cycles. In China and India this belief crippled scientific questions and even prevented democracy from forming.

The religions and philosophies that grew up in pagan and eastern societies were deeply pessimistic. "Epicurus understood that many of the vices we see--lust, greed, ambition, snobbery, violence--are ultimately the product of the fear of these dimensions Epicurus somewhat resembles the Buddha. Neither believed in a God or gods who are of much help to the human race" ( p 42). Life was pointless. Death inevitable.

Against these truths, paganism was a pale set of rituals created to appease gods who cared little about human beings.

And then came Abraham. He was a nomad, a person of little note in the world. But this obscure man claims to speak to God, and God "starts him on a fateful journey that has still not come to an end in its effects...'I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you....I will establish my covenant...'" (p 53). And, surprise, some 4,000 years after Abraham about 55% of the world's population claim to believe in Abraham and his God.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Secular progressives have been predicting the demise of religion for over two hundred years; but even those who were to be liberated by such aren't agreeing: such is the message of THE GOD THAT DID NOT FAIL: HOW RELIGION BUILT AND SUSTAINS THE WEST explores both biblical faith and the rejection of its foundations, which has encouraged ignorance of its history as a central force in the development of the West. Readings of religion in ancient Greece and Rome, of Christianity and Judaism and through the decades offers strengthening conclusion to attest to religion's importance past, present and future.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Masztal on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm in agreement with the others endorsing this book. Sadly, much of current Christian literature is fairly banal and not much more than an endless string of trite platitudes. However, readers will find this work both refreshing and validating.

Royal's book traces the development and perseverance of Christainity through the decades. Yes, Christianity despite the perpetual criticism from the Left and non-believers, was prime in the development of Western culture. God is not dead, but He remains continually working in the world.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Roberts on April 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The God that Did Not Fail is most broadly an ambitious philosophical history of the entire history of western civilization, literally from the Hellenistic Golden Age to the current day, with an emphasis on religious thought and packed into 276 pages of text. As such it can be extremely dense and the more the reader knows about western history the better or else a large amount of background and context to the author's points can be difficult to discern.

The author's thesis, which is developed and delivered in an incredibly disciplined and fair manner and quite obvious from the subtitle of the book, is that religion is a critical foundation stone in our civilization. This is not anything that in and of itself is probably surprising to anyone, but the author puts forward several points mostly relating to how the political and the religious have interacted to build his thesis, points that were both new to me and that revealed a somewhat majestic thread throughout western history. These also drive home the very meaning of his thesis: that the West cannot do away with religion in pursuit of greater freedom and liberty without actually destroying those things since they are its politically AND religiously derived hallmarks.

Starting with the ancient Greeks we are introduced to the rise of reason under the philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle the most prominent. Thus starts the current of thoughts and political, social and religious structures that will through a turbulent stream come to define who we are today.
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