As global residents within a culture of fanaticism, materialism, and greed, is it possible to bridge our differences and dwell in harmony in the twenty-first century? Celebrated author Sam Keen believes that a new understanding of the role of religion in our lives is essential for such a transformation. And that nothing less than our existence hangs in the balance.
In In the Absence of God, Keen offers a provocative critique of the present state of religion and leads the way down a new path -- one of renewal for us and our troubled society. By recovering the experience of the sacred, Keen argues, we may renew our own relationship with God and discover the religious commonality we all share, ending bridging differences that have divided Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others.
Known throughout religious and philosophical circles alike, Keen has spent his life asking the "big questions," and in In the Absence of God, he does not shy away from some of the most difficult and provocative questions concerning religion today:
What does religion offer us in today's world? How has religion failed us? Must we choose between religious fundamentalism and atheism -- or is there a hopeful alternative? How can religion address the challenges and violence we face every day?
Keen reminds us that the answers to these questions lie at the heart of religion and shows us how to access them. By reviving the sacred in everyday life through an appreciation of such elementary emotions as wonder, gratitude, anxiety, joy, grief, reverence, compassion, outrage, hope, and humility, we may rediscover God for ourselves and find a way to live in peace.
Sam Keen is a noted author and lecturer, who has written thirteen books on philosophy and religion. He earned graduate degrees from the Harvard Divinity School and Princeton University, and spent twenty years working as an editor of Psychology Today.
Keen co-produced the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary "Faces of the Enemy," and was the subject of a PBS special with Bill Moyers titled "Your Mythic Journey."
No longer interested in religious differences, In the Absence of God author Sam Keen explores what he believes is the fallacy of organized religion by tracing the five evolutionary stages through which most have progressed.
"We have to find the story that is everybody's story," he says."The essence of religion is a series of primal experiences, which belong to us only because...we share the human condition."
Branch of philosophy that studies key metaphysical and epistemological concepts, principles, and problems of religion. Topics considered include the existence and nature of God, the possibility of knowledge of God, human freedom (the free will problem), immortality, and the problems of moral and natural evil and suffering. Natural theology is the attempt to establish knowledge of God without dependence on revelation. Traditional arguments for the existence of God include the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the argument from design.
Of course Dawkins is a literalist. All atheists are literalists. Anyone who doesn't even have enough imagination to leave open the posibility of a Divine Consciousness (for lack of a better term) is a literalist, since they read the universe as it literally appears to them. If they can't see it, taste it, hold it, it doesn't exist even though others say they have.
Between Agnosticism, Theism and Atheism, Atheism is the most absurd and Agnosticism is the most logical. And at least a true Theist, acknowledges the component of BELIEF, (i.e. "faith").
Atheists leave NO possibility open for the possibility that their understanding of the universe is somehow lacking. They paint themselves into a rhetorical corner that relies solely on the scientific understanding (or lack of) of the day.
At least Agnosticism and Theism understand the limitations of the notoriously unreliable human intellect. Remember, it was just a few hundred years ago science told us the Earth was the center of all the universe.
"Having said this, I'm already coming off as a radical because it's such a taboo to even begin questioning religion."
Oh PA-LEASE. Don't flatter yourself. Atheism is THE de facto belief among the educated. I'm not religious myself, but atheism is hardly the "radical" world view you fancy it, so come on down off the cross.
Do I get this right? Religion is the effigy of the emotions that we have in the moment of wonder, awe and fear which happens when we realise that the universe/existence is something we can never, both as individuals and as society/species/whatever, fully understand? And that this is 'the human condition'?
Sounds like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there, indeed.
Dawkins doesn't give sermons, and he is not a literalist who is just as bad as those he opposes. I stopped watching when he said that what Dawkins speaks out against a kind of religion that the speaker doesn't believe in. This is a redundant and meaningless complaint against the "New Atheists," and it's much like criticizing MADD because you're mental image of alchohol is a few friends drinking one beer in front of the TV.
This kind of talk is intellectual saccharine. It makes those who don't comprehend and/or are offended by atheists feel justified in their anxiety in the way most republicans seem today (a la Sarah Palin). Most talking points of the republican party are implicitly supported by religious inertia that refuses to negotiate but continues to strong-arm policy.
Having said this, I'm already coming off as a radical because it's such a taboo to even begin questioning religion. If the speaker or audience members actually bothered to read books by or listen to interviews of Dawkins themselves, they would see he's a humanitarian. He clings to the truth, and unfortunately the divide isn't an equal controversy but boiling frustration between those who live in reality and those who refuse to see things outside of their own interpretation. If this argument really is unsolvable, something we "can't talk about" as the speaker says, then why do we defer to the one side of religion? It's an embedded part of most cultures and nobody wants to take responsibility and discuss them honestly. If you never confront your beliefs, the motives for your actions that end up effecting all the rest of us, then you're ignoring the morals that the greatest teachers (Jesus included) were trying to spread. It's like they were talking to a brick wall...
For all the mention of religious sentiments, Keen seems to me to express, more or less, my sort of areligiosity and "non-belief", to use a useless term. I gather from the framework sketched out here, that it doesn't really matter if one is religious or not - as long as one is observant, perhaps. Metaphysics caught in a play with words.
@Monalisa: Dawkins has provided many relevant points for anyone who might consider the implications of religious belief and its "opposite". Childhood experiences, although surely important and formative, has nothing to do with the validity of those points - many of which are not his own anyway, some dating to before Christianity. Consider it!