Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Club - God is Back #5 Winter 2011

Let's end our online book club with the final words of the conclusion:
Secularists need to recognize that the enemy that "poisons everything" is not religion but the union of religion and power--and believers need to recognize that religion flourishes best where it operates in a world of free choice...
This conclusion is surprising to many people. Secularists often want to suppress religion as a whole, while believers want to suppress religions other than their own. It turns out that either form of suppression causes problems.

Without that suppression, we see that religious markets are becoming more and more like other markets in that religion more so than ever is becoming a matter of choice.


  1. -Gabriele Szeibert, Econ17March 8, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Exactly, I think a lot of secularists fear the coalition of religious groups in general and to be more specific, the spread of Christianity or any other threat to their wordly beliefs and scope on life. However, consider this question, why would they fear this so much if they truly thought all religion to be false? Clearly they must worry about the diminishing qualities of secularism and the ongoing spread of any form of religion in today's world.

  2. Michael Hirschberg, Econ 17March 9, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I agree with the final words of the book. The idea that religion itself doesn't "poison everything" and that this poisoning occurs when religion and power are brought together reminded me of the quote "power corrupts absolute". Religion can be a very powerful to. However, as with everything, there must be checks and balances. Allowing for freedom of religion and tolerance is key to having a peaceful coexistence of multiple religions. You don't have to agree with any other religion other than your own, but people should be allowed to practice what ever they want (as long as it doesn't harm others, societies values?, etc.) Thank fully in a country as ours USA, there is a thing as religious freedom and somewhat of a tolerance for others. Religion has flourished, some of come and gone, but that is with any "economic good". Some are fads and some may be seen as a necessity. Secularists who believe that religion is the poison are themselves the poison. Why can't we just live in peace? We are all human beings made of flesh and blood. My 2cents.

  3. Jiyoung Baek 51465092
    I agree with the notion put forward that secularists do need to recognize that religion itself does not "poison everything", but coupled with power, can corrupt believers to do have and follow out terrible intentions. Religion, ideally, should benefit people spiritually and give people insight into their own beliefs openly and freely. However, believers who are empowered by money, land, and/or political influence over others can use their religious beliefs to control or subvert a people's way of life, especially those who are disadvantaged economically. Religion, in this case, should not be dictated or imposed upon others.

  4. Natasha Illam
    I think this is by far the most important made in the book. Religion itself is not the enemy that poisons everything but rather the union of religion and power that is dangerous. Even I had the belief that religion controls individuals and was always discouraged to practice/believe in religion because of the histories of many of them involving war and corruption. But this point that was made really stood out to me because most often such tragedies occur when religion and power become one - it is not the problem of religion itself. In fact, religion itself seems to foster good in individuals.

  5. I fully agree with this conclusion that a lower amount of suppression enables religious markets to flourish. The ability to decide is a great advancement in religious markets. The fact that the study of economics is about the choices consumers make illustrates that the success that religious markets have today is because they've essentially turned more economic. The book started off with mentioning how scholars long ago predicted religion would die out, but the evolution of religious markets into open markets has been the greatest factor in prolonging its existence. Economics exists because of choice, so it's not far fetched to believe that religion also exists because of it. It's with these thoughts that I believe the final words quoted in the original post are appropriate to conclude their discussion.

    Rochelle Ballecer


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