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For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  152 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Rodney Stark's provocative new book argues that, whether we like it or not, people acting for the glory of God have formed our modern culture. Continuing his project of identifying the widespread consequences of monotheism, Stark shows that the Christian conception of God resulted--almost inevitably and for the same reasons--in the Protestant Reformation, the rise of moder ...more
Paperback, 504 pages
Published August 29th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 2003)
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Feb 18, 2010 David rated it liked it
Stark sets out to show how ideas about God have shaped Western culture in both good (rise of science, abolition of slavery) and bad (witch-hunts) ways. The first chapter is an overview of reformations in Christianity. Stark argues that the Reformation of the 1500s did not just come out of the blue, but was the latest, and most successful, of many attempts at Reformations throughout church history. This first chapter really just serves as background for the rest of the book. While most time is sp ...more
Probably Stark's worst book, and that's saying a lot

I'm going to name the two historical religious myths that Stark printed as Gospel truth (pun intended) right off the bat, since as an ex-Lutheran, I caught them immediately standing out like a sore thumb.

1. Luther NEVER said "Here I stand" at the Diet of Worms.
2. Luther quite likely NEVER nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. (He never mentions doing such a thing in his own lifetime, and that story was first told
Oct 08, 2015 Jonathan rated it liked it
Rodney Stark’s stated purpose for writing For the Glory of God is “to show how ideas about God have shaped the history and culture of the West” (2). But this task requires him to slash down a forest of popular misconceptions events and movements in history (12). Towering among this forest of misconceptions is a mammoth falsehood that Stark is determined to bring down: that religion has always been primarily a cause of evil throughout history, and not a cause of good. While he writes as a sociolo ...more
Jeffrey Backlin
Sep 30, 2015 Jeffrey Backlin rated it liked it
Shelves: history, sociology
A good work largely due to its readability (Stark is not boring!), reasoning, and subject matter. Stark might strike one as a Catholic apologist (despite his blunt words to the contrary in the intro) but he tackles a wide range of phenomena both bad (witch hunts) and good (rise of science and the abolition of slavery). I largely enjoyed the last three chapters, the first chapter was a historical review and seems important if one is not familiar with the time period (if you are you can totally sk ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Diantha rated it it was ok
Stark's writing is very interesting; his book is very educational, and I learned a lot. However, his dismissal of everything non-Christian, despite his claim that he focuses on 'monotheism', ruined the overall message of the book for me. Instead of a clear explanation of how monotheistic religions led to certain historical developments, Stark's book reads as a defense of Catholicism and of the theological and moral superiority of Christianity.
Aug 17, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
Stark demolishes many of the historical myths concerning Christianity. For example, millions of witches were not killed during the witch hunts. As best we can tell the number was more around 60,000-90,0000 over 250 years. 30-40 percent were men. He also reveals significant history about slavery in other parts of the world that is usually never discussed. He shows how Christian beliefs of many influential figures, both Protestant and Catholic, lead to the abolition of slavery in Europe and the US ...more
Kevin Bensema
Jan 23, 2012 Kevin Bensema rated it it was amazing
Contemporary history and politically correct thought tends to paint the rise of Western Christianity that shackled and impeded the progress of humanity - a Dark Age only broken by the un-looked for dawn of the Renaissance and full day of the Enlightenment.

Rodney Stark, a sociologist, offers a well-written and compelling alternate analysis: Christianity was the driving force behind many of the peculiarities of Western civilization. He traces the good and the bad, from science to the Protestant R
Sep 22, 2013 Charlie rated it liked it
Stark challenges many of the received ideas about religion (and especially Christianity).

If you think religion is the source of all (or most) evil in the world, this book will give you something to think about!

He effectively argues that Christianity is a necessary condition for the rise of modern science and the abolition of slavery. His point about witch-hunting challenges many of the standard preconceptions.

Roman Catholics might not like his take on the state of the Medieval Church.
Oct 28, 2008 Anthony rated it really liked it
Stark traces the positive influence of Christianity on civilization and particularly science, effectively debunking the myth that science and religion are incompatible. While Stark has entirely too much admiration for the protestant "reformers," he also has a healthy respect for the Church, founded upon a HISTORICAL examination of its influence.
Naomi Young
May 28, 2011 Naomi Young marked it as to-read
Shelves: uflib
Fun trivia fact: Dr. Stark was my freshman sociology professor. At the time he was a staunch agnostic who studied religion as an interesting phenomenon. But in more recent years, he has come to know God in a more personal way.
It was really long and dense, but definitely raised some interesting points about what we accept as history and many of the religious factors that are left out of the story.
Lyndsey Wolfe
May 31, 2009 Lyndsey Wolfe rated it it was amazing
An EXCELLENT book I learned so much about science and religion.... a lot of things i didn't know before..
Doug Peters
Sep 29, 2012 Doug Peters rated it it was amazing
A brilliant achievement and a welcome corrective to all manner of modern myths concerning history.
Mar 13, 2008 Jason rated it liked it
I have to admit I didn't get all the way through this one...
Jul 03, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Such an interesting read.
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Rodney Stark grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, and began his career as a newspaper reporter. Following a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of Compa ...more
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