Shattering the Sacred Myths

Book review

 
Chapters

Shattering the Sacred Myths is a compelling, enlightening, and entertaining attempt to explain the existence of the universe in such a way as to shed light on whether there is any purpose or meaning to our lives.

The book begins with an easy-to-read step-by-step explanation of the natural evolution of humankind. It then follows the steps that led to the building of civilization and the discovery of advanced technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. After speculating about designer babies and thinking computers, it then considers the possibility that there may be some kind of cosmic purpose behind the evolution of a humanlike consciousness. This leads to the question of whether at the very highest level of reality there may exist a purposeful creative process rather than meaningless chaos or a mindless cosmic machine.

The book then explores how the traditional religions and philosophies have answered the question of human purpose. No sacred myth has been spared in an effort to uncover the most likely sequence of events that led to the formation of Judaism, Greek philosophy, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. This enlightening account of early human history concludes with a brutally honest analysis of metaphysical worldviews and systems of cooperative morality.

The book then summarizes the history of modern democracy. It focuses on the struggle for political and religious freedom - from the French and American revolutions to the formation of the United Nations. Rather than glorifying warmongers, the book focuses instead on the underlying motivations for global conflict, showing political history to be mostly a blind and greed-driven contest for wealth and power. From this position, the book examines modern day problems like third world dictatorships and religious fanaticism, as well as discussing issues like population growth and birth control.

In the final chapters, the book reflects on the emptiness of modern secular materialism, and explores humanism as both a worldview and a political movement in the form of human rights. After demolishing conservatism and dismissing postmodern skepticism, the author then attempts to establish a viable alternative to both moral relativism and the lingering influence of traditional religious morality. He proposes that by seeing consciousness as a natural force that accumulates information, we can derive a theoretical foundation for justice based upon the democratic decisions of free and educated people.

The book closes by speculating about the social and political reforms needed to bring about lasting global peace and prosperity. Shattering the Sacred Myths offers a stimulating interpretation of science, philosophy, politics, and religion. Its fearless myth busting and everyday language make it a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.

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