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Initial post: 12 Jun 2007 11:21:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Jun 2007 10:32:14 BDT
batreader says:
The book is available - don't understand why Amazon are saying it isn't

Ignore what Amazon are saying and buy it from the other retailers instead - AMAZON - WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2007 22:36:47 BDT
Lucius says:
Yes I have had it for a while now and logged in to leave a review- If you want my advice I wouldn't waste time looking for it there are much better books on the same topic out there.
A truly awful read, a waste of paper and ink.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2007 11:36:50 BDT
Why did you not post a review then? Was it deleted? I noticed that all of the reviews have vanished. The only one that seemed obviously inappropriate was one in which the reviewer implicitly admitted they had not read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jul 2007 15:55:59 BDT
Lucius says:
I tried to, but Amazon will not let you review the book until it is available to buy. I have read it, and heard the author talking about it at the book launch in Dundee. I would like to be able to review it though, in case you can't tell I found the book incredibly disappointing.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2007 15:18:21 BDT
Amazon's stance is quite right because people do "review" controversial books without having read them just to try and score points. It's difficult to stop, unless the reviewew is daft enough to write something like "I assume this is full of the author's usual illogical rubbish", but stopping readers' reviews being posted before a book's launch is a reasonable safeguard.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2007 14:50:39 BDT
Rumple, the trouble is that the book has been published and Amazon have been told this numerous times. They even have the publication date as April 2007.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2007 14:55:50 BDT
Lucius,

Sorry you were not able to review it. That is due to the incompetance of Amazon. I would love to have seen your review, even if you were 'disappointed'.

If you are a Christian who is disappointed with the book, or an open minded agnostic/atheist then I would love to hear where you think I got it wrong. I hate to disappoint people!

If you are a fundamentalist atheist then there is probably not much point in you letting me know because I doubt you were really disappointed. Being disappointed means that one has some kind of expectation which has been dashed. Given that, I doubt you have read my earlier work and were probably not really looking for a devastating expose of Dawkins and Atheism. In fact if the book was that bad I bet you were delighted, as it would only confirm you in your beliefs!

Anyway I hope you get to post your review. It should be fun....

David Robertson (author of the Dawkins Letters)

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2007 17:09:32 BDT
Lucius says:
I would probably describe myself as an interested atheist. I find the concept of religion fascinating from a cultural point of view, and read widely around the subject and attend debates and discussions. I guess my main desire is to want to understand why and how people believe in a god, but I am a long way from coming to any answer on that.

No I haven't read any of your other works, but I have heard you speak on a number of occasions, including the book launch and the talk regarding the comparisons with Islam. This talk was one I found particularly interesting and it was these and other occasions to which I was referring to when I said the book was a disappointment.

Part of the reason why I was disappointed with the book was the lack of clarification with any of the arguments. I understand that you did not want the book to become too heavy or off-putting, however time and time again I felt cheated that ideas were alluded to but there was no follow up.

I finished reading The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo a short while after reading your book and ended up going back to reread the Dawkins Letters afterwards, and having the other book in my mind caused much of what you had written to seem even more incomplete and many of your points I can't accept and seem factually incorrect.

I suppose my main issue with the book was the fact that I had the feeling you had almost sold yourself short. By not completing arguments or leaving to many points open or dependant on merely speculation the book seemed only half finished.

This leads to my last point that, the atheist you choose to write to or use as examples are either Dawkins (obviously), Hitler or people in general who do not represent agnostics or non-militant atheists. Part of the problem I have with this is the fact that these people are very easy to discredit, no one is going to argue against you if you say that Hitler was immoral, but I would like to see you debate against more typical atheist beliefs. I suppose the remainder of my problem is merely vanity where I do not liked to be stereotyped as one of these people.

I guess the main reason I would not recommend the book is the fact that it seems unfinished, and there are many books out there that would give a much more complete argument. Saying that I much preferred it to Mere Christianity which in my mind used Zeno like logic rather than decent debate. The problem wasn't with the message, it just seemed like a waste because everything was in place- I just had far to many questions at the end that I would've liked answering.

Lucius

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2007 19:43:08 BDT
Lucius,

Thanks a lot. I really appreciated your post and withdraw any insinuation that you might be a fundamentalist atheist!

I accept your comments and to some extent agree with them. I have not read the Lucifer Effect but I assume you would recommend it?

In my defence (bearing in mind that I think a great deal of your critique is fair) I would make the following points;

1) By definition the book cannot deal with all the questions in any depth - it is only 20,000 words.
2) The book itself is a critique of The God Delusion and to some extent reflects that books deficiencies.
3) My purpose was to cause questions (and not to give all the definitive answers - even if I could!). It is in a sense a taster. I would however argue that in terms of TGD it is all that is needed.
4) I do not want to stereotype you along with the main atheist spokesmen (and they do tend to be men!) but Dawkins, Hitchins and Harris are all in a similar vein. Even Grayling and Dennet seem to me to have the same contempt and vitriol as an essential part of their make up.
5) I would be very interested to know which facts I have got wrong. I could correct them for the second reprint (despite Amazon having the book down as not yet published, and no publication - whether Christian or secular having reviewed it, it has sold out and the reprint is going rapidly as well).
6) I accept the book is unfinished (what can you expect for such a subject in such a short span?) which is why I am working on two sequels. The next one will deal more with the question of the nature and existence of God - rather than being a critique of a critique. I suspect that will not satisfy you but given that you obviously have easy access to Dundee perhaps a discussion over a coffee in Borders or The Tartan might help! Just let me know - you have my e-mail in the back of the book.

David

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jul 2007 23:42:53 BDT
Lucius says:
Fundamental atheist, No. However I can see where that impression came from, my initial posts were quite abrupt and ill-mannered. I apologise.

The Lucifer Effect is an odd book. In the sense that I thought it was brilliant but would be loathe to recommend it to anyone directly. Primarily because it deals with particularly unpleasant scenarios, and in my mind there are better psychology or ethics book available which unless one was interested directly in the question of `evil' would be more appropriate.

It does however provide quite a nice expansion on one of your points in the eighth letter, in that it attempts to explain "How good people turn evil". The first section of the book deals with the authors own experiment the famous Stanford Prison experiment, but then goes on to examine more recent examples such as the Abu Ghraib tortures. The book itself makes for very uncomfortable reading, and makes some terrific generalisations which serve to trivialise certain points the author makes.

I don't believe the main problem I had with Dawkins Letters was factual inaccuracies in events or examples, more assumptions on opinions that you took to be fact on which arguments were based. You allude to the fact that you believe people to be equal, and use it as a foundation for an argument at one point. I myself can not accept that people are all equal, and hence can not follow the rest of the argument. You assume that a universe `which appeared from no where, is going nowhere and means nothing' is depressing, again this is something that I can not agree with but more of a trivial point.

I honestly look forward to reading the sequels, and hope (quite selfishly) they are not shoehorned into such a small word count. You do yourself no favour is stilting your argument, after all there are numerous examples that struck me as I was reading the book that contradicted statements you were making, and not only were they continently ignored, but your point was left open for them to disprove your points.

Regards,
Lucius.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jul 2007 08:51:13 BDT
Thanks.

You are right in that I do have basic presuppostions which come through in the 'Dawkins Letters' two being, as you point out, that all human beings are fundamentally equal and that the belief that the Universe is meaningless is depressing.

I would however love to know some of the 'numerous examples' which contradict the statements I was making. That is what constructive debate is about!

David

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2007 22:44:08 BDT
Lucius says:
A late reply since I have been away on business for the past few days, however I see the review function has now been activated.

Just to return to the previous point about all people being equal. This is an assumption that I can not accept. It has nothing to do with equal rights or having a desire to look down on other people. If I recognise that there are people in this world who are better than me, whether I am looking at current figures or historical figures it seems to be an absurd thought. The arrogance one has to possess to assume that they are equal to Wilberforce, Dante, Einstein, Dumas, Herod, Genghis Kahn, or Gladstone.

I am sure you know the team building style games, where you have a number of people trapped on a island and you have to decide as part of a group which ones to save. Usually you are given brief character descriptions such as, "person A is a pregnant woman; B has discovered a cure for cancer, but hasn't written it down yet; person c..." The reason why these exercises work in schools etc, is because everyone is able to recognise that certain individuals are worth more to society than others.

Now peoples opinion as to who the more worthy individuals are may differ, but everyone can understand the concept, schools actively promote the idea. If you take a film such as Deep Impact, where there is the idea of only certain people being allowed into shelters work because people will not so much as question the credibility of the idea that their government will put different values on life.

Equal rights is a western idea, and one to which I subscribe, however equal value I can not and do not see how can be accepted as a serious idea.

With regard to inaccuracies I take the first example I came across Page 8, In regards to America you talk of the "Perceived power of the Christian right." I can hardly agree that the Christian right in America only has perceived power. You are looking at a movement that has had a huge amount of influence in the abortion debate. How about the Governments position on embryonic stem cell research or the continued stance on Gay marriage. Whether you believe that these actions are right or wrong it is undeniable that the Christian Right in America has an undue level of influence.

Regards,
Lucius

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2007 19:04:11 BDT
Hi Lucius,

I would of course hold that all human beings are fundamentally of equal value because they are all made in the image of God - and their worth is not to be judged by other human beings.

As regards you first 'iaccuracy' it is nothign of the sort. At worst it is a difference of perception. If the Christian Right were as powerful as you think (and you mention the abortion debate as an example) then abortion would be banned in the US. It is not. Furthermore the equation of the Christian Right with the anti-abortion position is wrong - what about the Christian Left? Or the Liberal anti-abortionists? And finally your perception of what is 'undue' is interesting - around 100 millions Americans would claim to be evangelical Christians - is their influence undue? On the other hand the number of secularists is about 14% of the US and yet Secularism is the official State position - is that right?

So I'm afraid if you are going to accuse me of 'numerous inaccuracies' then you are going to have to offer a little more substantive proof! Expressing an opinion of a perception with which you disagree does not automatically count as an inaccuracy! Please try again...

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2007 23:49:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jul 2007 23:50:10 BDT
Lucius says:
David,
Lucius asked me to let you know that your post has not been ignored, he is working away at the moment because of the floods.

However just from my own point of view I find Luce depressingly cynical, one has to admit that the statements made, at least in part, are correct. I notice you pick the abortion example out, which is an issue under State control. The Fedral Government is dominated by christian right. I can't help but notice the similarity of your answer to that given by Ann Coulter when asked a simialar question.

From my point of view the answer that people are made in Gods image is a frustrating one at the end of the day this discussion had no root in fact. I found that you have produced a book of opinions and therefore whilst one can disagree with you, you have managed to put himself in an area where he can not be PROVED wrong and essentially can refuse to debate any aspect of the book as there is no committment to any one statement.

Gabriel

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2007 23:49:23 BDT
Lucius says:
David,
Lucius asked me to let you know that your post has not been ignored, he is working away at the moment because of the floods.

However just from my own point of view I find Luce depressingly cynical, one has to admit that yourthe statements made, at least in part, are correct. I notice you pick the abortion example out, which is an issue under State control. The Fedral Government is dominated by christian right. I can't help but notice the similarity of your answer to that given by Ann Coulter when asked a simialar question.

From my point of view the answer that people are made in Gods image is a frustrating one at the end of the day this discussion had no root in fact. I found that you have produced a book of opinions and therefore whilst one can disagree with you, you have managed to put himself in an area where he can not be PROVED wrong and essentially can refuse to debate any aspect of the book as there is no committment to any one statement.

Gabriel

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2007 20:05:55 BDT
Gabriel,

Thanks for the reply. I'm not sure I got all of it but just a couple of points. Firstly PLEASE do not link me to Ann Coulter - thats a bit like saying because you like motorways you are like Hitler! Secondly the Fedearl government is not dominated by the 'Christian' right - it is dominated by capitalism, money, power and the Right in general - but whilst some Christians may have some influence, it is not predominant.

Finally I would love to hear what the numerous inaccuracies are. I will correct them if possible but first I need to know them!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Aug 2007 09:32:32 BDT
What's a 'fundamentalist atheist'?

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Aug 2007 16:10:28 BDT
An atheist who behaves and thinks like a fundamentalist. They do not accept that they could be wrong, they do not listen to others, they react with vehemence, mockery and scorn if challenged - and they see the world in very black and white terms.
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Participants:  5
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  12 Jun 2007
Latest post:  3 Aug 2007

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The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths
The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths by David Robertson (Mass Market Paperback - 20 Mar. 2007)
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