"Pretending that the world's religions are the same does not make our world safer.

Like all forms of ignorance, it makes our world more dangerous."

-- Stephen Prothero

To what extent does the title of Stephen Prothero's book (God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter) offer an entry point into its core ideas?

Why does Prothero think it is important to recognize the fundamental distinctions between the world's religions?

Prothero: "We live in a world where religion seems as likely to detonate a bomb as to defuse one.  So while we need idealism, we need realism even more.  We need to understand religious people as they are -- not just at their best but also their worst.  We need to look at not only their awe-inspiring architecture and gentle mystics but also their bigots and suicide bombers."  (p. 7)  Comment.

How do you respond to Prothero's organizing of the book such that the world's religions are ranked according to their importance today?  What comments would you make on his particular ordering here: Islam (#1), Christianity (#2), Confucianism (#3), Hinduism (#4), Buddhism (#5), Yoruba Religion (#6), Judaism (#7), and Daoism (#8)?

How does Prothero go about distinguishing between the world's religions?  What do you think about his approach of orienting each religion around one central problem and the religion's solution to that problem?

Where would you start in commenting upon Prothero's portraits of individual religions?  Is there one chapter here that stands out as particularly worthy of note?  Why?

Is atheism a religion?  Integrate Prothero's analysis into your discussion here.  What criticism does he make of the New Atheists?  How does he differentiate himself from such thinkers as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens?  What similarities does Prothero see between the New Atheists and such humanistically-oriented religious scholars as Karen Armstrong and Huston Smith?  What, in his opinion, separates these two groups?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of God is Not One?

What were you able to find out about Prothero's background and biography, and how do you think this might have influenced his book?


Prothero's Audio Introductions To The World's Religions:  A series of 12-minute interviews in which the author provides an overview of each world faith.

World Religions -- Hinduism.

World Religions -- Buddhism.

World Religions -- Confucianism.

World Religions -- Taoism (Daoism).

World Religions -- Judaism.

World Religions -- Christianity.

World Religions -- Islam.


"'God Is Not One,' By Stephen Prothero," HarperOneVideo (March 31, 2010):  The author offers a three-minute introduction to his book.

"Stephen Prothero: All Religions Are Not The Same," Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, PBS, December 7, 2010:  Prothero explains the ideas behind his book in more detail.

"Stephen Prothero -- God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World," WGBH Forum (September 11, 2012).

"Stephen Prothero, 'God Is Not One,'" Book TV: After Words, C-Span 2 (June 14, 2010).

God Is Not One Reviews

James Heiser, "A Review Of Stephen Prothero's Book 'God Is Not One,'" New American (June 8, 2012).

Gamal Nkrumah, "Fantasies Of Faith," Al-Ahram Weekly (April 21-27, 2011).

Ken Chitwood, "Religion Matters -- A Review Of Stephen Prothero's 'God Is Not One,'" Ubuntu Spirit Blog (March 8, 2011).

Trevin Wax, "'God Is Not One': A Review Of Stephen Prothero's New Book," Gospel Coalition (October 7, 2010).

R. Scott Appleby, "Apples And Oranges," Commonweal (October 6, 2010).

Megan Sweas, "God Is Not One," U.S. Catholic, 75 (July 2010).

Thane Rosenbaum, "Book Review: 'God Is Not One' By Stephen Prothero," Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2010.

Jay Tolson, "Book Review: 'God Is Not One,' By Stephen Prothero," Washington Post, May 23, 2010.

Carl Hartman, "Review: 'God' Surveys World's Religions With A Somewhat Jaundiced Eye," San Jose Mercury News, April 22, 2010.

Jim Cullen, "Review Of Stephen Prothero's 'God Is Not One,'" History News Network.

Miscellaneous Sources

Stephen Prothero:  Prothero's Boston University faculty profile.

Stephen Prothero, "A Dangerous Belief," Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2010.

Mary Arsenault, "'God Is Not One' -- An Interview With Stephen Prothero," Wisdom Magazine (2012).

Stephen Prothero -- CNN Belief Blog:  An anthology of Prothero's blogs on the American news site.


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