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Preface to the Paperback Edition
Chapter 1 A Deeply Religious Non-Believer
Chapter 2 The God Hypothesis
Secularism, the Founding Fathers and the Religion of America
The Poverty of Agnosticism
The Great Prayer Experiment
The Neville Chamberlain School of Evolutionists
Little Green Men
Chapter 3 Arguments for God's Existence
Thomas Aquinas' 'Proofs'
The Ontological Argument and Other A Priori Arguments
The Argument from Beauty
The Argument from Personal 'Experience'
The Argument from Scripture
The Argument from Admired Religious Scientists
Chapter 4 Why There Almost Certainly Is No God
The Ultimate Boeing 747
Natural Selection as a Consciousness-Raiser
The Worship of Gaps
The Anthropic Principle: Planetary Version
The Anthropic Principle: Cosmological Version
An Interlude at Cambridge
Chapter 5 The Roots of Religion
The Darwinian Imperative
Direct Advantages of Religion
Religion as a By-Product of Something else
Psychologically Primed for Religion
Tread Softly, Because You Tread on My Memes
Chapter 6 The Roots of Morality: Why Are We Good?
Does Our Moral Sense Have a Darwinian Origin?
A Case Study in the Roots of Morality
If There is No God, Why Be Good?
Chapter 7 The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist
The Old Testament
Is The New Testament Any Better?
Love Thy Neighbour
The Moral Zeitgeist
What About Hitler and Stalin? Weren't They Atheists?
Chapter 8 What's Wrong with Religion? Why Be So Hostile?
Fundamentalism and the Subversion of Science
The Dark Side of Absolutism
Faith and Homosexuality
Faith and the Sanctity of Human Life
The Great Beethoven Fallacy
How 'Moderation' in Faith Fosters Fanaticism
Chapter 9 Childhood, Abuse and the Escape from Religion
Physical and Mental Abuse
In Defence of Children
An Educational Scandal
Religious Education as a Part of Literary Culture
Chapter 10 A Much Needed Gap?
The Mother of All Burkas
Appendix: A Partial List of Friendly Addresses, for Indivisuals Needing Support in Escaping from Religion
Books Cited or Recommended
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Today's Books 추천도서 (2007.09.04)
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Chapter 1: A Deeply Religious Non-Believer
The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and even - though he wouldn't have known the details at the time - of soil bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.
In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species - the famous 'entangled bank' passage, 'with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth'. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin's view that all was 'produced by laws acting around us':
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:
How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths...