What Should I Believe? (Oct 2008)

Why our Beliefs about the Nature of Death and the Purpose of Life Dominate our Lives

By Dorothy Rowe

 In the battle between the militant atheists and the dogmatic believers comes the calm, clear voice of eminent psychologist Dorothy Rowe

"Too often those who write about religion seek to convert, inflame, or condemn. At a time when belief in God has never been more controversial and debated, the sane, balanced and wise voice of Dorothy Rowe comes as manna from heaven." - Peter Stanford, Catholic writer, broadcaster and biographer

"An important and moving account of our beliefs in life and death." - Lewis Wolpert FRS, Emeritus Professor, Cell and Developmental Biology, University College, London

"Dorothy Rowe brings a refreshingly sane voice to the fraught, confusing but vital discussion of our beliefs about life, death and reality. Looking past the content of beliefs, she asks why people believe as they do and describes with wonderful lucidity how deep-seated emotions shape our ideas about life and these, in turn, mold our experience of it. This book is a timely reminder that we choose what we believe and how we believe it, and a passionate, liberating argument for self-awareness." - Vishvapani, Buddhist writer and broadcaster

"I am a great devotee of Dorothy's writing but I don't think it's appropriate for me to offer a quote for this particular book, since I am a declared Christian - and happy." - Fay Weldon

"Dorothy Rowe casts a bracingly cool eye on the fantasies which can inform religious belief. An important and robust attack on the self-serving aspects of religion." - Gwyneth Lewis

In the twenty-first century, religion has become a political power. It affects us all, whether we're religious or not. Terrorism based on religious belief threatens us all, while a battle rages between dogmatic believers and militant atheists. We want to make up our own minds about what we believe, but this is difficult. Everyone has to face the dilemma that we all die but no one knows for certain what death actually is. Is it the end of our identity or a doorway to another life? Whichever we choose, our choice is a fantasy that determines the purpose of our life. If death is the end of our identity, we have to make this life satisfactory, whatever 'satisfactory' might mean to us. If it's a doorway to another life, what are the standards we have to reach to go to that better life? All religions promise to overcome death, but there's no set of religious or philosophical beliefs that ensures that our life is always happy and secure. Moreover, for many of us, what we were taught about a religion severely diminished our self-confidence and left us with a constant debilitating feeling of guilt and shame.

Dorothy Rowe separates the political from the personal, the power-seeking from the compassionate. She shows how, if we use our beliefs as a defence against our feelings of worthlessness, we feel compelled to force our beliefs on to other people by coercion or aggression. However, it is possible to create set of beliefs, which allow us to live at peace with ourselves and other people, to feel strong in ourselves without having to remain a child forever dependent on some supernatural power, and to face life with courage and optimism.

For more information, contact Adrian Weston or Jemima Bamford at Raft PR on 01273 730 070 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . See more about the book at www.dorothyrowe.com.au.

Taylor & Francis Group

Additional Info

  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Publication Date: 9th October, 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0415-46679-0
  • Pages: 320pp
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