Book Briefs: May 24, 1974

1974This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.
Same As The Ice Age
“Unsecular Man, by Andrew M. Greeley (Schocken, 280 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Robert H. Mounce, professor of religious studies, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green.

Andrew Greeley is, among other things, a Catholic priest, a sociologist (ten years at the University of Chicago), a prolific author (some forty books), a weekly columnist (fifty U. S. newspapers), and “the Howard Cosell of the Catholic church” who, according to a recent Time article, has labeled the present leadership of the church “morally, intellectually and religiously bankrupt.” Little wonder that his reading public anticipates every new volume with a sort of intellectual breathlessness. His three latest books—all published within a three-month span—deal with politics (Building Coalition), theology (The New Agenda), and sex (Sexual Intimacy).

Unsecular Man is a well-written, interesting elaboration of the thesis that man’s religious needs are essentially the same now as they were in the Ice Age. Whatever minor changes have occurred make religious questions more rather than less critical in the contemporary world. Greeley is not at all bothered by the conventional wisdom that sees man evolving away from any need for faith and the sacred. In fact, the opening chapter begins, “Let us be clear at the beginning: this is a volume of dissent. It rejects most of the conventional wisdom about the contemporary religious situation.” Greeley argues that the “man come of age” mentality is based not on empirical evidence but on a priori assumptions about the nature of the evolutionary process. It simply does not face up to the persistence of religion among the overwhelming majority of people in the Western world, nor can it explain the resurgence ...

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