By Alexander Carpenter
I really enjoyed Stephen Prothero's American Jesus. Now he's back with another good book, Religious Literacy, in which he provides information and context for religious history and belief. The Washington Post writes:
"Prothero dates the beginning of the long decline in our religious
literacy to the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s. The fervor
of America's periodic cycles of revivalism, rooted in a personal
relationship with God rather than in theology handed down by learned
clergy, has always had a strong anti-intellectual as well as spiritual
In this interview on the Daily Show, both Prothero, who chairs the religion dept at Boston University, and Stewart note a national problem that also plagues Adventism. The people talking the loudest know the least and are the farthest apart. To understand the integration of faith and evolutionary theory by reading Dawkins or thinking about human-caused climate change by reading Michael Crichton leaves the debate to the gadflys and the populists. An overarching skepticism is essential to a healthy epistemology, but learning must always be combined with a critical framework that integrates information and prioritizes comparative analysis. There is no such thing as absolutely equal evidence, but unfortunately sometimes there exists equal understandings of information.