The truth in religion

John Polkinghorne in the Times Literary Supplement:

ReligionReligious belief is currently under heavy fire. Books by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others tell us that religion is a corrupting delusion. Despite their assertions of the rationality of atheism, the style of their onslaughts has been strongly polemical and rhetorical, rather than reasonably argued. Historical evidence is selectively surveyed. Attention is focused on inquisitions and crusades, while the significance of Hitler and Stalin is downplayed. Believers in young-earth creationism are presented as if they were typical of religious people in general. The two books under review aim to make a more temperate contribution to the debate.

John Cornwell has hit on the amusing conceit of writing in the persona of Richard Dawkins’s guardian angel, a being, moreover, who had earlier stood in the same relationship to Charles Darwin. The book’s tone is gently ironic and its style that of modest discussion, which all makes for an enlightening read. The twenty-one short chapters each consider some claim made in Dawkins’s book The God Delusion (reviewed in the TLS, January 19) and then subject it to reasoned questioning.

More here.