Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is Faith Net Positive or Negative for the World?

In my Nov. 9 sermon on faith, I shared some about the person who commented on my Oct. 16 post. That post was about the critique of faith offered by Bill Maher's new film and the so-called New Atheists (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.). The critique of religion offered by the person commenting on my blog and one of the charges levelled by Maher and the rest is that faith is not only delusional but it is harmful for the world.

I came across a really nice (and brief) response to the latter charge on-line at Sightings, a selection of articles and columns offered by the University of Chicago Divinity School's Martin Marty Center. The column in question is by David Myers, a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, MI. He apparently also has a book responding to the New Atheists called A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists: Musings on Why God is Good and Faith Isn't Evil.

Here's a taste:

Maher and the new atheist authors' present anecdote upon anecdote about dangerous and apparently irrational religious behavior, while ignoring massive data on religion's associations with human happiness, health, and altruism. The Gallup Organization, for example, has just released worldwide data culled from surveys of more than a quarter-million people in 140 countries. Across regions and religions, highly religious people are most helpful. In Europe, in the Americas, in Africa, and in Asia they are about fifty percent more likely than the less religious to report having donated money to charity in the last month, volunteered time to an organization, and helped a stranger.

Also, here's a good interview with him that includes an excerpt from his book at the cool site Explore Faith.

Grace and Peace,


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