Stark has a lot of interesting things to say in this book. For instance, in his introductory comments he says,
“While other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth.” p. xWhen I read something like this I always ask myself, “Where is this person coming from?” A statement like this, written by someone with my dominant Christian beliefs, while being an honest expression of opinion would need to be examined carefully because of the presuppositions. So, is Stark a Bible believing Christian?
First, I looked at the publisher of the book, Random House. This is a secular publisher. I think that is an indication that this is offered as a scholarly, intellectual publication.
Second, I checked out Stark online. Wikipedia gives a summery of his life and deals with his “personal religious faith.” Based on his own statements he would be at most a general believer, at worst an agnostic. He does not seem to have a strong, focused faith that would cause him to give pro-Christian analysis.
With that, I feel I am able to accept him as an unbiased source. When he says “Christianity alone embraced reason and logic,” I can accept that as an analysis not a conviction. Conviction does not invalidate a statement but it needs to be considered. As one with a strong faith and strong convictions I admit that. At the same time having strong convictions does not make your beliefs invalid.
Third, he is a sociologist of religion. He did graduate work at Berkeley which tends to be liberal and teaches at Baylor, affiliated with conservative Baptists. He is a scholar in the area he is writing about.
I hope to look at and discuss some of his points while I am away from home.
Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason. New York: Random House, 2005.
homo unius libri