The Victory of Reason

by Rodney Stark, Random House, 2005, ISBN 1-4000-6228-4,
281 pages, $25.95 hardback.

Rodney Stark is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with his Ph.D. in social sciences. He is a professor at Baylor University and has written several books related to the development of Christianity in modern times. This book is of special interest to those concerned about the result of religious belief.

One of the favorite themes of modern-day atheists is that all religions have been destructive to mankind. The notion is that religion has simply divided mankind, caused wars, and been destructive to mankind in every way. There is no question but that some horrible things have been done and continue to be done in the name of religion. That is also true of atheism and every other belief system the planet has known.

Several years ago we reviewed a wonderful book by Alvin Schmidt titled Under the Influence in which Schmidt showed that Christianity has done wonderful things for mankind in the area of human rights. Stark's book shows that it is Christianity that has led to science and prosperity in western culture.

Stark divides his book into two sections. The first focuses on the foundations of success in western culture. Stark shows that the role of reason in Christianity led to political freedom and the emergence of both science and capitalism. The second section traces the history of the development of science and a higher standard of living for all those living in western civilization.

This is an interesting discussion. Even a person with little knowledge of business or history can follow how Christian beliefs benefited mankind. Stark also explains why less success was had in non-Christian systems, and shows that when people left the biblical idea they were less successful.

People with a background in history and business will find this book to be extremely interesting and informative. Those of us with poor backgrounds in these areas will still find much useful affirmation of the biblical system. It is well organized, well documented, and well written. We recommend it highly.

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