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Monday, May 25, 2009

Where would we be without God? Where would we be without God?

God comes and goes. He hides from time to time from saints such as Thomas Aquinas or Ignatius Loyola, and never appears at all to atheists from the Baron d'Holbach to Richard Dawkins. With each coming and going, there is a plethora of books; publishers must share Voltaire's view that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.

Dawkins, and his colourful disciple, Christopher Hitchens, have set the agenda for today's debate. Not only is there no God, but to believe in him is pernicious because religion is used to justify inhuman and antisocial behaviour - the Crusades, the Inquisition, jihad. Not so, say the editor of the Economist, John Micklethwait, and his co-author, the magazine's Washington bureau chief, Adrian Wooldridge. Religion may be retrograde in societies such as Saudi Arabia, where only one faith is allowed and there is no freedom of conscience, but it is wholly compatible with modernity in pluralist countries such as the United States.

God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the WorldJohn Micklethwait and Adrian WooldridgeAllen Lane £25, pp352
Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God DebateTerry EagletonYale University Press £18.99, pp200


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