In his eighth and most recent book, An Embarrassment of Riches, Hamden resident Richard Grigg, professor of theology and religious studies at Sacred Heart University, explores the idea that religious diversity can lead the thinking person to question his or her own beliefs.
He points out that the knowledge that others have contradictory religious beliefs with no less evidence to support them can present a problem. He then explores in detail the various responses available to a believer thus challenged.
“This subject has interested me from the time I began studying religion," he said. "I realized that there are two major challenges to religious belief. The first is the one that most often comes to mind, namely, a general skepticism about matters such as the existence of God, a skepticism based on claims that God’s existence cannot be proven or on the apparent inconsistency between the existence of a good God and all of the suffering and evil in the world.
"But there is also a second challenge – one that comes from the confrontation of religions with one another – rather than from skeptics who stand outside of any religious tradition,” Grigg said. “This second challenge has to do with how the claims of the various world religions seem to contradict one another. Almost anyone who seriously studies this second challenge asks himself or herself whether the contradictions are real or only apparent. Or, to take a bit different tack, can the contradictions be overcome if the various religions are willing to rethink some of their claims?”
Grigg said that one of the most surprising things that came out of his research for this book and from his work in the classroom with students is “that a sizable number of religious persons today are, in fact, willing to make modifications to the traditional teachings of their religion to make it compatible with other faiths.”
John E. Thiel, professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University, described the book as “a work that academic theologians and philosophers will read for the clarity and completeness of the author’s treatment of the issue of pluralistic disconfirmation of belief, but also a book that would be utterly friendly for use in the undergraduate classroom. Few writers would be able to present such an important issue in a manner accessible to undergraduates, while yet offering the intellectual suspense of a thriller.”
“This is the most important book to explore the logic of conflicting religious truth claims since the appearance of William A. Christian’s classic and bracing study of the Oppositions of Religious Doctrine: A Study of the Logic of Dialogue among Religions (1972),” added Michael L. Raposa, professor of Religion Studies and E.W. Fairchild Professor of American Studies at Lehigh University.
An Embarrassment of Riches, published by Sacred Heart University Press, is available for $21.95 by contacting Sheila Moseley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-396-8097.
Grigg’s previous books include Gods After God: An Introduction to Contemporary Radical Theologies andBeyond the God Delusion: How Radical Theology Harmonizes Science and Religion.