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The Transcendental Temptation Paperback – March 1, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If everybody on the planet read this book, the world would be a better place, thanks to Paul."
-Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain

"Well-written, readable, and carefully researched compendium of the skeptical challenge and position. . . . This is a must."
-Choice

"A practical and eloquent manual for every woman and man seeking to live a sensible life with meaning. It shows the way forward for both the individual and all of society. Writing with a gentle hand, Kurtz has presented philosophy in a manner that is interesting and digestible to all. This book will appeal to a wide variety of readers because it addresses real beliefs held by real people in the real world.... Kurtz explores many popular irrational beliefs and convincingly argues that humankind can and should do better. Readers will appreciate Kurtz’s positive and constructive tone throughout this extraordinary book. He writes not only about colossal failures of reason but also of our wonderful ability to think things through and get it right. This invaluable book offers much needed direction toward a better world for all.”
Guy P. Harrison, author of Think: Why You Should Question Everything
 
"A very important book ... clearly written and forcefully argued."
-Journal of the American Academy of Religion

About the Author

Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of Prometheus Books, the Institute for Science and Human Values, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and has lectured at universities worldwide.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879756454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879756451
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

PAUL KURTZ (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of the Institute for Science and Human Values as well as the founder and chairman emeritus of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and lectured at universities worldwide.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Richard Garrard on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I spent last weekend reading Dr. Kurtz's book, with a very different impression from that of "infaithreborn". Contrary to that reviewer's conclusions below, Kurtz does not focus merely on "fundamentalist" Christians, but on all those who ignore empirical evidence and logic in constructing a supernatural worldview. "Infaithreborn" and others who defend 'nonfundamentalist' Christianity and mysticism should make clearer assertions of what, in fact, they DO believe. Kurtz does not claim that the scientific method has left the world without mysteries, only that it is the best tool we have for dispelling ignorance. In this he joins Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, although he is more forthright in his consideration of the possible origins of the Moses and Jesus and Mormon (Joseph Smith) myths. An insightful, courageous contribution to the field of the objective study of religious behavior.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bruce R. LaPlante on July 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
It is interesting that although the original edition of this book was written in 1986, much of the discussion on Jesus and the origins of Christianity were recently reinforced by the excellent PBS special titled "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" which first appeared April 1998, and in which many notable religious scholars provided material that concurs with that presented in this book. Kurtz draws on numerous historical sources to provide background on the historical Jesus: "In order to evaluate their [the four Gospels] historical accuracy, it is important that we find independent corroboration. Thus we need to examine nonbiblical literature of the first few centuries C.E. I am referring here (1) to any parallels between Christianity and pagan or Jewish presursors; (2) to any secular references by pagan and Jewish authors; (3) to what the early critics of Christianity had to say; and (4) to the extensive apocryphal literature, gospels, and epistles that were subsequently rejected by the church." Kurtz presents the material in a very accessible and well researched manner. An excellent book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I find his assessment of Jesus and Christianity lacking, much preferring the two superb books by Randal Helms,
Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels, the chapter on Islam is worth the price of the book. This chapter on the history of Mohammed and early Islam is fantastic and should be shared with anyone who has a curiosity about the roots of Islam
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jane D. Anderson on February 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to skim major parts of this book, then you will love it. If you want to read word-for-word, you will be busy for awhile. This book reads like a PhD dissertation, but the points it brings out about the tendency to look for answers somewhere outside of human experience is valuable. The section on Christianity is riveting.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
Contrary to what one reviewer (below) has said, ther are no eyewitnesses to Christ. The gospels were all written from 50 to 90 years after the purported death of Christ and St Paul, whose letters are the oldest documents in the NT, likewise did not know Christ and in any event offers little or no detail about the events of the life of Christ.
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Format: Paperback
Paul Kurtz has done humankind a tremendous service by, in one succinct phrase, summing up the fundamental problem with religious belief; that it is essentially a “transcendental temptation”. Most people have a fundamental urge to escape their nature. They don’t want to die, and they wish to believe that, somehow, human beings are “special”. Kurtz articulated this as people wanting to somehow ‘transcend’ the realities of life. This is an essential understanding for all who wish to connect with what is true. If you want to know what motivates most people, and causes many of their destructive social associations, this is an excellent place to look. This book is in the ‘core understandings’ section of my library – there is no higher recommendation, for my part.
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