I just posted this review of God Made Man by Barbara G. Walker on Amazon Reviews. I'll see her next Thursday and I'm anxious to hear what she thinks. I hope the Amazon editors don't think I came on too strong.
If I would have read this book 50 years ago it would have changed my life. Now that I'm retired, as I think back, only two books have had a life-changing effect on me: Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Now I have a third.
Here's why. When I went to Catholic high school I sat quietly and listened meekly to all the magical nonsense that was foisted on me on a daily basis. Believe what you want, was my attitude, just don't try to sell me any of this supernatural boogety-boo. Symbolic cannibalistic rituals were all right with me—just as long as I can sit in the back of the auditorium my comforting, teenage daydreams.
If I would have read Barbara's book back then, I would never have put up with it. “Hey, Brother, is it true the Church tortured and killed millions of people over five hundred years? After the Council of Nicea, Europe was awash in blood and learning was ground to a standstill. The Dark Ages were imminent. Books were burned, libraries destroyed and the peasantry kept illiterate. All I got from your religion classes was the Apostle's creed.”
How come you never mentioned the genocide caused by your religion? After the bloodbath had subsided in the 1800s, a century later Cardinal Angelo Sodano would apologize and call this insane, sadistic mayhem, “a sad episode in church history.” Is he crazy?
How can church officials live with themselves? How come there's no priests listed on the National Sex Offenders list? What's going on?
In short, I didn't become a militant atheist until 40 years later. I was always an atheist but I was close-mouthed about religion and tolerant of it. This very year there will be hundreds of people, mostly women and children, tortured and killed in Africa because of witchcraft, just as Barbara describes it. She even gives the line from the Gospels, Christ's own words, that centuries later the Inquisitioners would use to rationalize burning heretics at the stake by the millions. One town in Germany, states Ms. Walker with accurate annotation, burned as many as 1000 pathetic victims in one year. Outrageous—that's nearly three per day! Watching public immolation must have been a national pass-time, like going to the movies or the Friday-night fights.
Good job, Barbara, it's the scholarship and research that makes Man Made God so powerful. I hope your book goes down in history as one of the most important humanist statements of the modern age. All I can say to any Holy Ghost/heaven-hell/Eve-came-from-Adam's-rib/Noah's Ark believers is: read it and deal with it.
Richard Goscicki, author of Mirror Reversal, Peppertree Press, 2007