After Atheism: New Perspectives on God and Religion, Part 4

James Carse

James Carse


Public discussion of religion tends to polarize between two extremes: religious fundamentalism, and the aggressive atheism of such writers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. But much of what people actually believe falls somewhere in between. It is subtler and more tentative. David Cayley explores the work of five thinkers whose books have charted new paths for religion. Part 4: James Carse.

James Carse is the author of a book called The Religious Case Against Belief. In it, he turns a lot of widely accepted ideas on their heads.  Belief usually defines religion, as any dictionary would show.  Carse argues that belief is often the enemy of religion.  Beliefs, he says, come and go, but religions persist.  Some have a lot of beliefs, some almost none, but even those with a lot preserve their identities even when those beliefs change.  James Carse is a scholar of the History and Literature of Religion which he taught for many years at New York University.  In this episode he shares his thoughts on the nature of belief and the nature of religion.

The Religious Case Against Belief by James Carse is published by Penguin Press.

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