Society and the Death of God
This book advances the "strong" programme that sociology and anthropology provide a scientific foundation for arguing that God and the gods are human creations. Contending that religion is one – but not the only – way to systematize and institutionalize the moral order of a society, the author argues that religion reflects the fundamental human need for belonging and the social function of compassion. As such, our transcendental and supernatural ideas are really concerned with our everyday lives in communities and, faced with the severity and immediacy of the global problems with which the world is confronted – existential threats – it is increasingly important to abandon delusions and correct our mistake in reference, not by eradicating religion, but by grounding it more explicitly in earthly matters of community, social solidarity, belonging, and compassion. A wide-ranging study of the roots, nature, and purpose of religion and theistic belief, Society and the Death of God will appeal to sociologists, social theorists, and philosophers with interests in the scientific study of religion and the role of religion in the life of humankind.
1. Some Initial Provocations in Words and Numbers 2. Genesis: Introduction to the Book of God 3. To Tell the Truth 4. Foundations for a Critical Sociology of Religions and the Gods 5. Assume the Position: God Proofs 6. Evidence Redux 7. The End of God and the Beginning of Inquiry 8. The Last Chapter of God 9. Personal Quest Redux, Summary, and Review 10. Reading Hans Küng: The Last Chapter of Theology
"Humans are social, sensible to conformism, and struggling with the pasts of fathering god figures. Restivo calls for a courageous position: endorse the strong sociological-anthropological view on humans as authors of their own ideas and creations. God(s), religious institutions and undoubtable truths are part of this stock of self-created illusions. As an atheist European I was always struck by the American expression 'I belong to ...' when speaking about religious beliefs. Of course, one 'belongs': we are no hermits. The big task Restivo outlines is how to choose freely, conscientiously and with decent scientific foundation what and how to belong to. The book offers very insightful ideas and shows the necessary intellectual courage to move on this path of liberation, coupled with responsibility. Because in the end we are social, i.e. moral, beings. Against the background of many 'learned' predecessors the author shows us what a deeply sociologically and anthropologically informed thinker can add to modern philosophy."
Rik Pinxten, Ghent University, Belgium
"There have been many books deconstructing religion from a philosophical perspective, but here we have a book that does so from a decidedly sociological perspective, and it is most welcome. Hard-hitting, personal, and provocative, Restivo’s work is timely and engaging."
Phil Zuckerman, Pitzer College, USA
"In this closely argued critique of beliefs about God, Restivo ranges across theology, science, robotics, and the sociology of global history. His writing breathes with energy. If you want a contact high from a book that is intellectually alive, this is it."
Randall Collins, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, USA; author of The Sociology of Philosophies