Is it possible to build tolerance and respect in a world seemingly being torn apart by religious beliefs? Too many seem convinced that their religion or faith is the only way to enlightenment, the only path to Truth.How can we possibly build a more just and peaceful society for us all. Can we find stronger inter-religious bonds of respect and understanding at the truly spiritual level of heart and soul?
What happens if we bring science into the equation? Supposing science shed its shackles of conventional materialistic dogma based on some shaky assumptions and looked with new eyes at religious beliefs such as prayer, distance healing and life after death? Is it possible that the latest ideas on empathy and consciousness could be narrowing the gulf between science and religion?
This book will help lay persons and clergy alike relate church tradition to the wider world of science, spirituality and interfaith issues. It will challenge the "spiritual but not religious" as well as those who thought they were secure in their own faith.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Not everyone - especially those from a specific faith background - will agree with this author's every micro-conclusion. But on a broader plane, this book is lucid, well-researched, deeply-felt, humane, forward-looking, compassionate and helpful, and couched in an engaging and approachable style. It may even - depending on where you are in your thinking - change your ideas in a radical way. I have no hesitation in recommending it to the thoughtful reader in search of signposts. ~ Aggie C, Amazon.co.uk
"a wonderful job making the inter-connectedness of religion, science and education as well as the grave responsibilities of the media and the churches so apparent - it will clarify the thinking of many. Something of interest and worth rereading on every page." ~ Felicity Williams Anglican Christian, priest's wife, private correspondence
Eleanor takes on the criticisms of the "new atheists" in this short and erudite book about the spiritual condition of our time...Eleanor is a voice of sanity in the frenzied debate generated by the passion of new atheism. ~ David Lorimer, Network Review journal of Scientific and Medical Network
Readers will find a lot to think about in this book. All in all, Stoneham has done a good job here, and I recommend the book whole-heartedly for its sincerity and hard-hitting articulacy. ~ Dr Stuart Hannabuss, Network
“…a book that’s timely and truly worth reading. Indeed, this book is a tremendous resource for information on religious organizations, books, websites, and social and environmental justice activities, as well for the new spirituality movement…a great resource for those interested in what is happening at the forefront of interfaith activity.” ~ Joanne Simson, http://spiritandscience.net/2013/03/10/why-religions-work/
In this book Dr Eleanor Stoneham looks at the place of religion in our society today examining why it is important and highlighting the good that religions do in the world. As she points out it is fashionable in today's world to knock religion and God pointing only to the bad which is done in the name of religion.
Although a Christian Eleanor Stoneham is calling for religious unity and highlights many areas where this is already being done today. She points to the many similarities in the worlds religions and the ways they could work in harmony to bring many radical changes for good in the world.
Although this is an academic text it is easily read and extremely interesting. I was not reading this from an academic point of view and enjoyed it immensely. Anyone, from any religion, could read this and take a lot away with them. I would highly recommend... ~ Wendy Jones, Amazon
"...Refreshing and innovative…After setting out her defence of religion, Stoneham begins to articulate an agenda for the future, particularly drawing upon recent developments in science and areas of convergence with religion. Stoneham is confident that science will soon be able to establish some understanding of the religious and spiritual experience, and in some ways already has begun to do so. She argues that redesigning and rethinking education, returning to scriptural and religious values and having greater confidence in merging science and religion, humanity can move forward and begin to repair the damages of global injustice, poverty and the environmental crisis…Her contribution is worthwhile, and Why Religions Work is an enjoyable and well written defence of religion in the modern era." ~ Abdul-Azim Ahmed, On Religion http://www.onreligion.co.uk/why-religions-work-book-review/
This is a book about connectivity as well as spiritual and religious diversity which ... is timely. I cannot rate it highly enough on both its readability and diversity of content. This should be mandatory for any student studying religion and social science.
Dr Stoneham asserts that religions have a huge advantage over government as they take the long-term view. Like bedrock, amidst war and social breakdown, they remain and create vital and solid ground amidst chaos.
Above all, Stoneham urges us to be respect all religion, drawing on the Sikh philosophy which maintains that `all the religions of the world can be compared to rivers flowing into a single ocean'.
As the book invites us to look at the bigger picture rather than focusing on hot spots of dissension in the name of religion, she surprises us with an insight into Darwin who, far from being antagonistic to religion went from Christianity to theism and agnosticism in his lifetime. Into this fertile matrix of religious and spiritual openness she draws upon other philosophers and scientists including Wittgenstein, Einstein, Sheldrake, the Dalai Lama, Newton, John Polkinghorne, the eminent theoretical physicist, theologian, writer and Anglican priest, and others... ~ Stephanie Sorrell, Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1780994966/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
This is an excellent book for those who want to look deeper at how religion is key to society and for those wanting perhaps a stronger line of refutation of the secular humanist rhetoric that is not tied to a single religion or faith, but rather upholds the place of faith as found in religions and within the psyche and society of humankind as a necessary thing. It is not a harsh critique or condemnation but rather it is well reasoned, researched and provides a gentle but firm refutation of other's ill-formed arguments, thus making it a joy to read.
Why Religions Work could almost be called ‘a manifesto for religion in refutation of the atheist rhetoric’, because at the end of the day that’s pretty much how this book works.
In light of some of the atheistic and humanist agendas religion has become an object that is often spurned, rejected and ridiculed within secular society and yet this is without regard to its values, benefits and its underpinning structures to much of that society. Eleanor Stoneham puts forward, within the course of the book, an attempt to argue the objective point (based on scientific models of rationale) that religion of any type is an important and integral structure to society, and indeed it cannot - as many of it’s opponents seem to put forward - be sidelined because despite the opposing rhetoric, religion is fundamental and integral to more of the worlds populace than not, therefore the arguments against religion are largely flawed and lacking in real scientific basis. Throughout this book Stoneham puts forward evidence for why religion is necessary, logical and of value, flagging up not only the standard religions but also newer modes of religion too.
At times I can see that some might argue that what is being offered is not as such an argument for religions so much as for the spiritual, but then as the author does try to point out and reconcile there is some degree to which the spiritual, for all it’s own rhetoric these days, cannot be without the underpinning of a religion to structure it, form it, share it and maintain it. Few things exist in vacuum after all. ~ Melanie Carroll, http://www.thegoodbookstall.org.uk/section/67/academic/
If you want to approach the topic of the role of religion in today's world, in an authentic and serious way, this book is a must-read. It is a well-documented scholarly work. At the same time, it is easy to read, interesting, and thought-provoking. While the popular opinion seems to be that all religions are dying, this author proves otherwise. She presents strong evidence to the value of religions' participation in the world, from responding to natural disasters to being prominent advocates for social justice and poverty relief - while pointing out the intolerance and hatred some religious leaders promote. Her discussion of religion and science is compelling. Perhaps, these two worlds do not need to be on opposing sides, after all! ~ Deborah Lloyd, Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1780994966/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
A refreshing and timely perspective on the spiritual condition of our times, reminding us that the basic role of religion is the cure of souls and calling for a renewed respect for religious traditions and an acknowledgement of the vital part they play in the maintenance of human community - contrary to the strident assertions of outspoken militant atheists. Radhakrishnans vision of a religion of the spirit, endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI, gives us an inspiring prospect of unity within diversity. ~ David Lorimer, Programme Director of The Scientific and Medical Network
In her new book Dr Eleanor Stoneham, who is herself a highly trained empirical scientist, presents the rational evidence to demonstrate that the genuine religious quest has just as good a claim as the scientific method to be a search for truth. Her open-mindedness is in contrast to the intolerance purveyed in many New Atheist publications where religious people are stereotyped as too stupid or ill informed to take account of the findings of modern science. Such a wild generalisation is itself unintelligent because it is manifestly untrue, as Dr Stoneham demonstrates. She argues that open-minded compassion lies at the heart of all true religion. Its absence is a sure sign of betrayal, leading to every sort of corruption. The New Atheists should be aware that they do their cause no good by showing a similar closed-minded lack of respect. ~ David Hay, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen School of Divinity, and Religious Studies, Author of The Spirit of the Child
We are smashing up ourselves, our relationships, and our planet. Religion is often blamed, and the charges often seem just. Fundamentalism of all sorts puts words and dogmas above people, justice and plain decency.
Theres a strong temptation to ditch religion. Compassionate humanism sometimes seems to have a more sensitive diagnostic nose and a more shrewd therapeutic , or at least palliative, plan. But ditching religion, argues Eleanor Stoneham in this gentle, urgent, compelling book, would be a bad mistake. It would mean reading religion as its twisters - the strident Christian Taliban of the Bible Belt and the dead-eyed, red-handed Islamists - want us to read it. Wed be joining them in their crass misreading.
The real core of religion, she contends, is the Golden Rule of passionate altruism - a rule shared by all the great world faiths and by all great-hearted people. This rule wasnt generated by the Darwinian imperatives of reciprocal altruism or kin selection: it was set into the hearts of men by a God who gives himself freely and wildly to his creatures. We cant do without him (or her), as Stoneham calmly and persuasively demonstrates, and its dangerous and downright dull to try. ~ Charles Foster, Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford