Believers: Faith in Human Nature

Norton. Sept. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780393651867. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393651874. REL
Konner (anthropology, neuroscience, behavioral biology, Emory Univ.; Medicine at the Crossroads) responds to four scientists and philosophers who have recently written about the evil of religion. Raised an Orthodox Jew, but an atheist since the age of 17, Konner uses anthropology and scientific studies to argue that religion, which he admits has been used for evil purposes, has done at least as much good for individual believers and for the community at large. Examining the scientific and cultural origins of religion, including the makeup of the human brain, Konner looks at religion sympathetically and thinks the world would be poorer if religion were to disappear, as those he calls the “Quartet” (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens) have hoped for. While not religious himself, Konner has great respect for religion and what religious people have accomplished.
VERDICT While at times tough going, Konner’s argument in favor of religion is well stated, with numerous examples from many different fields to back up his argument.

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