The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs: Fundamentalism and the Fear of Truth

Overview

The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs is a passionate yet analytical critique of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptural fundamentalists. Schimmel examines the ways in which otherwise intelligent and educated Jews, Christians, and Muslims defend their belief in the divine authorship of the Bible or of the Koran, and other religious beliefs derived from those claims, against overwhelming evidence and argument to the contrary from science, scholarship, common sense, and rational analysis. He also examines the ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$22.68
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$24.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (4) from $24.83   
  • New (2) from $24.83   
  • Used (2) from $57.98   
Sending request ...

Overview

The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs is a passionate yet analytical critique of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptural fundamentalists. Schimmel examines the ways in which otherwise intelligent and educated Jews, Christians, and Muslims defend their belief in the divine authorship of the Bible or of the Koran, and other religious beliefs derived from those claims, against overwhelming evidence and argument to the contrary from science, scholarship, common sense, and rational analysis. He also examines the motives, fears, and anxieties of scriptural fundamentalists that induce them to cling so tenaciously to their unreasonable beliefs.

Schimmel begins with reflections on his own journey from commitment to Orthodox Judaism, through doubts about its theological dogmas and doctrines, to eventual denial of their truth. He follows this with an examination of theological and philosophical debates about the proper relationships between faith, reason, and revelation. Schimmel then devotes separate chapters to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptural fundamentalism, noting their similarities and differences. He analyzes in depth the psychological and social reasons why people acquire, maintain, and protect unreasonable religious beliefs, and how they do so. Schimmel also discusses unethical and immoral consequences of scriptural fundamentalism, such as gender inequality, homophobia, lack of intellectual honesty, self-righteousness, intolerance, propagation of falsehood, and in some instances, the advocacy of violence and terrorism. He concludes with a discussion of why, when, and where it is appropriate to critique, challenge, and combat scriptural fundamentalists. The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs is thoughtful and provocative, written to encourage self-reflection and self-criticism, and to stimulate and to enlighten all who are interested in the psychology of religion and in religious fundamentalism.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Many books have appeared recently on religious fundamentalism, with most of them focusing on Islam. Schimmel (Jewish education & psychology, Hebrew Coll.) here deals with fundamentalism as found in all three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The author was raised as an Orthodox Jew and later came to reject its rigid and dogmatic components, finding them to be unreasonable. As a psychologist, he turns his attention to those who continue to affirm religious fundamentalism, even as abundant evidence indicates many of its tenets are incorrect. Schimmel devotes a chapter to fundamentalism as expressed in each of the three religions, and he then addresses the reasons why adherents seem to hold to their views so strenuously, even as reason and evidence would seem to invalidate them. He considers fear to be the core basis for their resistance to letting go of their beliefs. This is a well-researched and thoughtfully presented book; however, it would have been better if the author had included some studies and surveys from the social sciences and psychology of religion that addressed attitudes and perceptions of religious fundamentalists.
—John Jaeger

From the Publisher
"This is a long-overdue book about a pressing subject by a brilliant writer qualified not only by his professional expertise but by his own life experiences. The question of why otherwise thoughtful people accept irrational religious fundamentalism is a difficult one to address in our age of oversensitivity about challenging deeply held religious beliefs. But Schimmel confronts the challenge head- on — respectfully, intelligently, and with the insights that have long characterized his work. This is a must-read for all thinking people who respect religious diversity." —Alan Dershowitz

"Very few books face honestly the social and cultural persistence of what Professor Schimmel here labels the 'tenacity of unreasonable beliefs.' Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — sometimes called collectively the 'religions of the book' — have developed very different approaches to the Abrahamic tradition. In these approaches, interpretation, belief, and action come together in subtle and often irrational ways. This is a profoundly insightful and illuminating work which asks the reader to consider the correspondence between irrational belief and human behavior in a thoughtful, precise, and eloquent way. It is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the nature of religiously based violence." —R. Joseph Hoffmann, Chair, The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion

"The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs addresses questions about the psychology of religious fundamentalism in a most penetrating and enlightening manner, from perspectives that are neglected in most of the literature on the subject — including anthropology, evolutionary and social psychology, and philosophy. Schimmel provides us with a sophisticated understanding of the mentality of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptural fundamentalists, and of why and how they tenaciously cling to beliefs that have failed the tests of experience, scholarship and reason — and the dangers of their doing so. The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs is an essential read for anyone concerned about defending Western democracy in its ideological struggle against the values, vices, and violence of radical Islam. —Ibn Warraq, author of Why I Am Not a Muslim and Defending the West

"Schimmel's is a fresh voice in the ongoing critique of fundamentalism. ...The book represents an intelligent inquiry into the cognitive world of secular modernity's religious discontents that is both fearlessly frank and unusually empathetic. [Schimmel's] sensitivity to the individual fundamentalist's socialization process and to the storied loss of faith that profoundly shapes ex-fundamentalists makes the book a highly original contribution to interdisciplinary fundamentalismstudies. Scripture scholars, comparativists, and Christian readers unacquainted with yeshiva- based Jewish intellectual life will profit from this provocative work." —Theological Studies

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199964451
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor of Education and Psychology, Hebrew College

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chaper 1: Why This Book? Autobiographical Reflections
Chapter 2: Faith, Revelation, and Reason
Chapter 3: Jewish Biblical Fundamentalism
Chapter 4: Christian Biblical Fundamentalism
Chapter 5: Muslim Koranic Fundamentalism
Chapter 6: Acquiring and Protecting Unreasonable Beliefs
Chapter 7: On "Defundamentalizing" Fundamentalists
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)