Book Review: A Doubter’s Guide to World Religions by John Dickson

We have a fraught relationship, religion and I.

5 comments

We have a fraught relationship, religion and I.

About the Book

Title: A Doubter’s Guide to World Religions: A Fair and Friendly Introduction to the History, Beliefs, and Practices of the Big Five

Author: John Dickson

Published: 2022

Series: (standalone)

Genre: nonfiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

The world is a very religious place. Wherever you look, people are worshipping, praying, believing, following, even dying for their faith. But what does it mean to be religious? Are all religions the same? Do they all call on the same God simply using different names? Are their beliefs and practices simply cultural expressions of the same spiritual longings?

My Thoughts

We have a fraught relationship, religion and I.

On one hand, I don’t like religion. I don’t like how it stunts progress and oppresses women and spurs war and discrimination. I don’t like how I was indoctrinated as a child to think that if I don’t have blind faith in Catholicism then God will send me to hell to be tortured for all eternity– childhood indoctrination that has left a lingering residue which will never cease to haunt me no matter how much it is debunked.

However, on the other hand, I think religion is very interesting. Though I don’t subscribe to one myself, I love to read about it and how it has influenced culture and history. I like to learn about different life philosophies and moral codes different religions have created, and how these things are intertwined with human psychology. I have friends of many different religious backgrounds, and I like to learn about their cultures.

So I enjoyed reading this book. It is a brief overview of five major world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, and talks about all of their histories, beliefs, and practices. I learned a lot of things, and I appreciated how the author put effort into making the book as unbiased as possible. I’d definitely recommend this if you’d like a quick guide to the major religious faiths.

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5 comments on “Book Review: A Doubter’s Guide to World Religions by John Dickson”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I had a few of my own as a response, not meant to be a debate, but rather just sharing another perspective.

    “On one hand, I don’t like religion. I don’t like how it stunts progress and oppresses women and spurs war and discrimination.”

    I think it’s hard to paint all religions with the same brush. Also what is progress? That needs to be defined. If progress is dressing like a dog and walking the streets on all fours, then sorry, I’m not down with progress. Not all religions oppress women, so again painting all religions with the same brush is rather unfair.

    “I don’t like how I was indoctrinated as a child to think that if I don’t have blind faith in Catholicism then God will send me to hell to be tortured for all eternity– childhood indoctrination that has left a lingering residue which will never cease to haunt me no matter how much it is debunked.”

    You’re right. Nobody should be forced to believe in anything blindly, much like how society indoctrinates kids through the school system to believe that democracy is the best form of government, religion should be separated from our public lives, kids should explore their sexuality and on and on. You don’t like religion, which I can understand, but secular liberalism is essentially a religion that people are expected to blindly follow. I don’t see a big difference.

    “However, on the other hand, I think religion is very interesting. Though I don’t subscribe to one myself, I love to read about it and how it has influenced culture and history. I like to learn about different life philosophies and moral codes different religions have created, and how these things are intertwined with human psychology. I have friends of many different religious backgrounds, and I like to learn about their cultures.”

    I respect your willingness to continue learning. As a follower of Islam, I pray Allah (the Creator of everything), guides you and I to the right way.

    Like

      1. Obviously you need to study other systems then. We’re reaching a point where pedophiles will be an accepted and recognized way of life (called MAPS). Beastiality, and incest as well. Based on secular liberalism what’s wrong with 2 consenting adult family members having sexual relations that doesn’t result in a child? Secular liberalism gives no answers to anything. People are literally discussing what a woman is. Secular liberalism sole intent is maximizing freedom and pleasure, because it believes that’s the purpose of human existence. What we have is increases in suicide, depression, murder, dissolution of family, rape, domestic abuse, homelessness, drug overdose etc. The “great American empire” is failing miserably and people still think liberal secular democracy is the best system. But of course that’s not indoctrination right?

        Have a look at this: https://youtu.be/Wp5AHzHq0IA

        I pray Allah guides us to the best way, and to the true purpose of our existence.

        Like

      2. I disagree. I’m a libertarian and I do think freedom is most important. Looking at the results of other systems I think the US is doing well. I don’t think we’re on our way to legalizing incest (also the reason that’s a problem is because it results in deformed kids. also just gross lol)

        Like

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