This new book by Dr Ian Guthridge, historian and former Jesuit priest, presents a fresh, frank and no-holds-barred debate about Religion. Is it Faith, or Fact, or Fantasy? Indeed, do we need Religion any more - or is it simply past its use-by date, and something we would be well rid of. Timely and relevant, these questions often underpin headlines in the Media.
For example, increasing revelations of child abuse by clerics, with Church authorities sweeping these under the carpet; controversies over Gay Maniage, the ordination of women priests, and the use of taxpayer money to fund religious schools; conflicts between Religion and Science over Creation and Evolution; the rival claims of Jews and Muslims to the "Holy Land" and, here at home, growing concerns about increasing numbers of Muslim migrants from countries hostile to the West; questions about whether Islam is "an essentially aggressive religion" or "a peaceful religion hijacked by extremists"; and the challenge presented by Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens that God is a "Delusion" and Religion has been a source of endless divisions and conflicts, and should therefore be got rid of altogether; so has Religion really passed its use-by date - or are we in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath-water? In this book, Guthridge approaches Religion from an unusually wide perspective.
For having been a believer throughout the first half of his life - with a Doctorate in Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome - he knows what Religion looks like and feels like from the inside; but, having abandoned Established Religion throughout the second half of his life, he knows what Religion looks like and feels like from the outside. And, given this double perspective from both sides of the equation, the book launches a strong and uninhibited presentation of both the Case for the Prosecution of Religion, and the Case for its Defence - examining each of these on the basis of evidence, rather than on wild recriminations from one side or tired old defences from the other. In search of the evidence, the book explores the Jewish Tradition in and beyond the Old Testament, the Christian Tradition in and beyond the New Testament, and the Islamic Tradition in and beyond the Koran - the good things and the bad, with plenty of both in all three. And, more briefly, it also explores the alternative "Ways" of the Confucian, Hindu and Buddhist Traditions in the increasingly relevant global world of China, India and South-East Asia.