Rupert Shortt at the TLS:
Despite the spread of secularism in the West, rising levels of religious belief in the world as a whole have become incontrovertible. Three-quarters of humanity profess a faith; the figure is projected to reach 80 per cent by 2050 – not just because believers tend to have more children, but also through the spread of democracy. Significant, too, is the growing prominence of post-secular thinking in several disciplines. Things looked very different as recently as the 1980s. Influential commentators assumed that mainstream religion would fade away within a few generations; anglophone theologians, to name only one group, were often intellectually insecure. The turning of the tide is a significant chapter in the history of ideas meriting a full-length study of its own. Its main conclusions are worth outlining. The scales of debate on whether religion does more harm than good will tilt a bit if the theistic picture looks more coherent on closer inspection than many had previously thought, and naturalism – the thesis that everything is ultimately explicable in the language of natural science – less plausible as a consequence.