From the same publisher as the above “atheist” pro-religion book, here’s another new book, a “religious” attack on “belief”:
The Religious Case Against Belief
by James P. Carse
In this age when religious global conflict appears to be at its apex, renowned scholar James Carse offers us a viable and balanced path away from the excesses of ideology and toward a more open-ended dialogue that will enrich your understanding of this issue forever.
In The Religious Case Against Belief, Carse identifies the 21st century’s most forbidding villain: Belief. Belief, according to the author, is something to be distinguished from religion. Belief—with its restriction on thought and encouragement of hostility—has corrupted religion and spawned violence around the world. From the Crusades to the contemporary Christian right, from the Inquisition to Islamic jihadists, “true believers” construct identities by erecting boundaries and by fostering aggression between the true believer and the other. This is why belief systems choose—at great cost—to remain locked in bloody conflict rather than to engage in dialogue.
Central to Carse’s argument is what he describes as the three kinds of ignorance: ordinary ignorance (a mundane lack of knowledge; such as ignorance of tomorrow’s weather); willful ignorance (an intentional avoidance of accessible knowledge, as in the rejection of scientific facts); and finally, higher ignorance (a learned understanding that no matter how many truths we may accumulate, our knowledge falls infinitely short of the truth). While ordinary ignorance is common to all people, Carse associates the strongest manifestation of willful ignorance with the most fervent (and dangerous) of believers. In fierce contrast to willful ignorance, higher ignorance is an acquired state enhanced by religion. Those traveling the path to higher ignorance recognize the instruments of their faith (such as the Bible) as intended to promote contemplation, interpretation, and a sense of wonder. In this way, religion, uncontaminated by belief systems, rejects the false boundaries that divide people and ideas.
The Religious Case Against Belief exposes a world where religion and belief have become erroneously (and terrifyingly) conflated. In strengthening their association with powerful belief systems, religions have departed from their essential purpose as agencies of higher ignorance. With a wide range of understanding, James Carse offers a hopeful and needed alternative to the arguments of anti-religion critics, while building a pathway away from what can be called our second “Age of Faith” and toward global harmony.