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God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter Hardcover – Apr 1 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harperone (April 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006157127X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061571275
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #178,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“enormously timely, thoughtful and balanced” (Los Angeles Times)

“God is Not One is 2010’s must-read for anyone religiously illiterate….Don’t know much about the world’s faiths? Get a copy now.” (The Daily Beast)

“Provocative, thoughtful, fiercely intelligent and, for both believing and nonbelieving, formal and informal students of religion, a must-read.” (Booklist)

“An urgently needed and very nicely done corrective to politically correct nonsense.” (Rodney Stark, author of Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Faith)

“Stephen Prothero has done it again. This is a powerfully-written, paradigm-shifting book. How religious differences can be a bridge of cooperation rather than a bomb of destruction is one of the most important challenges of our era, and Prothero is as good a guide as you will find.” (Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core and author of Acts of Faith)

“This book could well be the most highly readable, accurate, and up-to-date introduction to the world’s major religions.” (Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of The Future of Faith)

“A very much needed book!” (Miroslav Volf, Professor, Yale University, and author of Exclusion and Embrace)

From the Back Cover

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, dizzying scientific and technological advancements, interconnected globalized economies, and even the so-called New Atheists have done nothing to change one thing: our world remains furiously religious. For good and for evil, religion is the single greatest influence in the world. We accept as self-evident that competing economic systems (capitalist or communist) or clashing political parties (Republican or Democratic) propose very different solutions to our planet's problems. So why do we pretend that the world's religious traditions are different paths to the same God? We blur the sharp distinctions between religions at our own peril, argues religion scholar Stephen Prothero, and it is time to replace naïve hopes of interreligious unity with deeper knowledge of religious differences.

InReligious Literacy, Prothero demonstrated how little Americans know about their own religious traditions and why the world's religions should be taught in public schools. Now, inGod Is Not One, Prothero provides readers with this much-needed content about each of the eight great religions. To claim that all religions are the same is to misunderstand that each attempts to solve a different human problem. For example:

–Islam: the problem is pride / the solution is submission
–Christianity: the problem is sin / the solution is salvation
–Confucianism: the problem is chaos / the solution is social order
–Buddhism: the problem is suffering / the solution is awakening
–Judaism: the problem is exile / the solution is to return to God

Prothero reveals each of these traditions on its own terms to create an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to better understand the big questions human beings have asked for millennia—and the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today. A bold polemical response to a generation of misguided scholarship,God Is Not Onecreates a new context for understanding religion in the twenty-first century and disproves the assumptions most of us make about the way the world's religions work.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Too bad this book's enlightenment wasn't available fifty years ago. But back then no one would have had the knowledge to include all of what Prothero covers. The academic study of religions has come a far way in fifty years. Prothero maintains a neutrality as much as he can throughout his book but it is not difficult to discern that personally he is fascinated by, accepting of and impressed by the supernatural dimensions of mankind's cultural existence. The title of the book serves to be provocative while also laying the foundation for his ongoing argument against the contemporary "Godthink that lumps all religions together in one trash can or [one] treasure chest" (p 335). On one side of the Godthink continuum are the New Atheists (he makes distinctions between Angry [i.e. confrontational, New] Atheists and Friendly [i.e. non-confrontational, civil] Atheists) who blame religions, and people of faith, for all or most of the world's ills. On the other side are the "perennial philosophers" who--in spite of all evidence to the contrary--try to homogenize all religions into one loving, peaceful and harmonious syncretism.

The chapters are arranged in Prothero's judgmentally arbitrary order of each religion's pervasive influence on the state of the world, placing Islam first and Daoism last. This arrangement influences how he substantiates many of his arguments and uses illustrations as he refers back to material covered in previous chapters. This trait does make it more difficult to pick up the book to read a chapter in the middle or towards the end. He has given each religion about the same number of pages in the book, which I thought was the wrong decision.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"God Is Not One" attempts to discuss the big differences between the world's major religions. It is not a completely dispassionate review: the author clearly has his own opinions, although he is generally pretty good at not pushing them on the reader. Prothero tries to draw order from chaos by summarizing the basic philosophies of these religions by distilling from each a central problem and solution. For instance, Prothero claims that the central problem in Christianity is sin and the solution that it presents is salvation. The author asserts that these fundamental differences in perspective are crucially important, as they colour the worldview of each religion's millions (or billions) of adherents. His critical thesis is that these religions are _not_ fundamentally the same, and he takes issue with the currently-popular message to the contrary.

I refer to this book as a "primer" for good reason. Each religion is given only two or three dozen pages, much of which is devoted to basic precepts and cultural context. A great deal of detail is sacrificed in order to get to Prothero's core points. Experienced readers of comparative religions texts might take issue with some of the author's omissions and generalizations. In particular, as other reviewers have noted, the selection and explicit ordering of religions (whose chapters are arranged from most- to least-important) within the book might raise some eyebrows.

Despite these points, I regard this book as a good starting point for new readers who may be unfamiliar with broad-strokes differences between the world's major religions. Prothero celebrates the differences that he presents, and plainly seeks only to educate (and not offend) new readers. The text is both engaging and informative, and is not difficult to read in an evening or two. For many readers, this may be a better place to start than a staid textbook on religious studies.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in a decent introduction to eight major systems of belief should consider picking up this book by Stephen Prothero. A well written, easily readable text that provides anywhere from 25-35 pages each on Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoruba, Judaism, Daoism, and a brief look at Atheism, listed in order of the prominence based on Prothero's expertise.

The book is not scholarly (but throughly end noted), but more introductory and is filled with editorial commentary from the author. Anyone interested in increasing or developing dialogue or an understanding of these different belief systems should consider reading this text.

Prothero does a fantastic job situating each system within the context of current events and provides fairly thorough historical foundations for each. The book will offer anyone interested in world religions with a great jumping off point for more detailed research for any and all of the beliefs discussed within.

A good read from which you will come away more knowledgeable.
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Format: Hardcover
Author is plagued by Abrahamic definition of religion. There are only 4 religions, Zoroastrianism (3600 years old), Judaism (3500 years old), Christianity (1800 years old) and Islam (1100 years old). Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism etc. are not religions. They are Dharma. Religions are large scale cults, with one Prophet, one book invariably divine inspired, monopoly over Heaven, no place for antheist, No room for evaluation , (criticism brings death threats and deaths), "My-way-or-the-highway". Religions are CLUBS, one either belongs to it or does not. Dharma, to the contrary, have no Prophet, any single book that is supreme/infallible, membership to the club (there is no conversion, converting to what?). Dharma continuously seeks, questions and even an atheist can be a follower of Dharma (Dharmic- who acts as per inherent nature of a man, good deeds to fellow human beings, follow the law of the land, nature, good and kind to flora and fauna etc... Adharmic, just opposite of that). Western writers and even Eastern writers in their blindness fell for the Missionaries and Religionists of 4 religions, and downgraded their Dharma, way of life, to religions. Dharma is like regular upgrade of Windows version 1 and presently windows 10, whereas in Religion there is no provision for Upgrade. The version that the writers of Old Testament, New Testament and Koran wrote in medieval times, is the Final version. The learned writers have erred on this basic difference and included evolving theoretical and practical ways of life (reflected and expressed in various segments, regions, languages and dialect of people living in eastern parts of the World) as Religions.Read more ›
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