Friday, January 17, 2014

Jonathan Sacks' terrific book The Great Partnership

Jonathan Sacks - courtesy Wikipedia
Reading Jonathan Sacks' terrific book The Great Partnership which has been on my shelf for a while. He pulls no punches! Here are some gems from the Introduction:
  • If the new atheists are right, you would have to be sad, mad of bad to believe in God and practice a religious faith. We know that is not so.
  • When a society loses its religion it tends not to last very long thereafter. It discovers that having severed the ropes that moor its morality to something transcendent, all it has left is relativism, and relativism is incapable of defending anything, including itself. When a society loses its soul it is about to lose its future.
  • Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.
  • When you treat things as people, the result is myth... When you treat people as things, the result is dehumanisation.
  • In a world in which God is believed to exist, the primary fact is relationship...In a world without God, the primary reality is 'I' the atomic self. There are other people, but they are not as real to me as I am to myself. Hence all the insoluble problems that philosophers have wrestled with unsuccessfully for two and a half thousand years.
  • We cannot lose faith without losing much else besides, but this happens slowly, and by the time we discover the cost it is usually too late to put things back together again.
  • Atheism gives no reason to think the world could be otherwise. Faith does, and thereby gives us the will and courage to transform the world.
  • If neo-Darwinism is true...then every neo-Darwinian should abandon atheism immediately and become a religious believer, because no genes have spread more widely than those of Abraham and no memes more extensively than that of monotheism.
  • We make a great mistake if we think of monotheism as a linear development from polytheism...Monotheism is something else entirely. The meaning of a system lies outside the system. Therefore the meaning of the universe lies outside the universe. Monotheism, by discovering the transcendental God...made it possible for the first time to believe that life had a meaning.
  • The Greeks understood tragedy better than any other civilisation before or since. Ancient Israel, though it suffered much, had no sense of tragedy. It did not even have a word for it... There was no Sophocles in ancient Israel. There was no Isaiah in ancient Greece.
  • People have often noticed...that there is not one account of creation at the beginning of Genesis, but two...The Bible...sees the capacity to graps multiple perspectives as essential to understanding the human condition.

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