Podcast: Scott Shay on Idolatry, Ancient and Modern

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It was just a few years ago that the so-called “New Atheists” played an outsized role in American culture. Scientists like Richard Dawkins and polemicists like the late Christopher Hitchens wrote page after page lambasting faith as not only illogical, but also immoral and destructive. When Scott Shay—founder of a successful bank and an observant Jew—realized how much purchase their arguments had on his friends and colleagues, he decided it was time to explore this “New Atheism,” investigate its arguments, and refute it.

In Good Faith: Questioning Religion and Atheism, is the product of Shay’s efforts. The book is incredibly ambitious, tackling everything from the true meaning of the Bible to the proper relationship between faith and science. But perhaps its most interesting insights are on the topic of idolatry and how this scourge of biblical Israel continues to manifest itself today—albeit in a very different guise.

In this podcast, Shay joins Tikvah Fund Senior Director Jonathan Silver for a discussion of his book and the nature of idolatry. Shay describes what motivated him to engage with the arguments of the New Atheists and offers his thoughts on everything from pagan religion to the perils of tribalism in America. As he does so, Shay helps us see how that the temptation of idolatry did not disappear with the ancient world but persists as part of human nature to this very day.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble as well as “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.

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