#6 Rod Stark on How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists
Date: August 12th, 2018

Organized religion and religious believers often get painted with a bad reputation, and sometimes it is justly due, but most of the time it is not.  Prof. Rod Stark, a co-founder of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, explains the benefits of religion on a wide range of social behavior.  Rod has long been my most favorite sociologist of religion and has had a profound impact on the way I write.  While Prof. Stark can write research papers in academic jargon with the best of them, the publication of his book The Rise of Christianity jettisoned him into the world of writing for the general public (and perhaps surprisingly).  That book was based on sociological theory and empirical research, but it was written in a rather accessible manner without dumbing anything down.  Rod followed the success of this book with a string of monographs that sold (and still sell) very well, including For the Glory of God, One True God, God’s Battalions, and The Triumph of Christianity … to name just a few.  I remember telling a college-educated neighbor that I study religion and he told me that I should read “this book” by a certain Rod Stark.  Not only did I tell him that I had read that book, but I also informed him that I use it in class and have hung out with Rod on numerous occasions.  The mere fact that a “lay reader” had this book on his bedside table told me that it is possible for a scholar to do serious research that resonates with the general public.  For that reason, and many others (including my love of Rod’s irascible personality when it comes to scholarship he finds nonsensical), Rod has appeared on this show more times than any other guest — a record seven times.  I could have chosen any of his Rise of Christianity podcasts to insert in this spot, or his explanation for why the Crusades occurred, but I went with his discussion of his book America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists as our discussion covered a number of themes that come up regularly on our show including religion and health, religion and social behavior, and whether religion is vanishing with all the young nones.  I encourage everybody to visit all the other “Rodcasts” for some entertaining and educational material.

Original Podcast Link.


The Rodcast Series.

Bradley Wright on Christian Stereotypes (a five-time guest).

Steve Pfaff on the World of 1517.

Philip Jenkins on Global Christianity.

Paul Froese on the Meaning of Life.

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