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on 12 June 2015
Excellent Book
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on 31 March 2015
Read it!
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on 7 April 2007
Doubtless, fanatical atheists will in time come to review this book on Amazon and hail it for extolling the truth: that there is no God and that to live as though there were is not only to delude yourself but outight dangerous, possibly even immoral.

However, it is virtually impossible - and I grant you, it is a VERY short book - to find a single argument within these pages. It's more of an atheist's outburst really. Grayling, I'm led to believe an otherwise respectable philosopher, is here incontinently assertive, without a shred of research or argument to back any of it up. Despite the different chapter headings (or "essays") and therefore, presumably, intended topics, Grayling invariably returns to pounding on the open door of "religion has done lots of bad things". Yes. Lots of things. Agreed. Though it has done many a good thing also (read Ward's eloquent study "Is Religion Dangerous" for a proper discussion). And for some strange reason, Grayling appears to have a fixation with comparing the suffering of Jesus during the crucifixion to that of childbirth! Or, the suffering of Jesus to other historical figures. On this basis (and I must have missed a beat or something) he asks why it is that Jesus is worshipped, when others have suffered so much more? (Though I'm not aware of any Christians who assert their belief in Christ on sheer tonnage of pain he endured). Grayling expresses his loathing for the practice of religious groups seeking government endorsement. One would feel that the topic has the makings of a political discussion, but alas the thread is lost and we're back to you know what again! In short, I can't see what this book is for. The essays are too short, ill thought out and angry to allow for a proper discussion. It's even a hardback - making the whole thing more expensive, presumably. Most of Grayling's remarks are equivalent to those he made about religion in his book "The Meaning of Things", where at least other chapters had a lower quotient of jejune remarks. It's as though Grayling sees red when religion comes up, and all reason is lost. The final "essay" of Against All Gods promotes Humanism. At least there Grayling is a little calmer.

If you would like to read about atheism, there are far better polemics than this one. Try Daniel Dennet's "Breaking the Spell", Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" or Sam Harris' "The End of Faith", though MUCH MUCH better than those, go for Feuerbach or even Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not A Christian".
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on 24 November 2007
Richard Dawkins complains about those who are like fleas on his back - seeking to make money out of his success. This book certainly falls into that category. Short (very short), it is nothing more than a collection of six small essays, put in nice packaging and sold to the faithful. I guess that this would not matter if the quality was good but this is by far the worst of the anti-God books currently riding on Dawkins back.

Right from the beginning Grayling uses straw man arguments "faith is a commitment to belief contrary to evidence an reason" being the first example on page 1. That is a definition of faith which no Christian theologian would share. The whole book is poorly written and inherently self contradictory.

Sometimes the arguments are just plain silly (and an embarassment for someone who claims to be a leading philosopher). For example the statement that no wars have been fought over rival theories of biology. Does this include creationsist theories? Does it include Hitlers belief that the Germans were biologically a better race than the Jews? Is he seriously saying that atheism has never motivated anyone to violence (try asking Stalin)?

His attempt to equate all religious people with suicide bombers, to claim that all religious people are de facto child abusers and his complete lack of understanding of religion (and his glorification in his own ignorance) means that this book is a cheap (although financially expensive) and nasty piece of propoganda. It will only appeal to those who already share Graylings faith. Fundamentalist atheists will love it (not least because it reassures them that they cannot be fundamentalists!), intelligent Christians will be bemused that someone can be so full of ignorance and hatred, and the majority of people will be bemused and wonder why such an insubstanial work got published at all. Perhaps Dawkins is right - there are those who are seeking to fleece the gullible and make money out of their beliefs?!
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on 5 June 2007
Whoops, another God bashing book is released and AC Grayling jumps neatly on the Dawkins bandwagon and into the laps of eager atheists and amused believers.

The notion that religion is in decline is a recurring piece of wishful thinking on the part of the world's atheist minority. Whereas many in the UK are, indeed, spiritually bankrupt, belief is very much on the resurgence in other parts of the world, particularly in areas formerly labouring under communist (or other) repressions.

Is atheism a form of religion? It's certainly a lifestyle. Take a look at rationalresponders.com for an example of just how rabid atheist thought can be. Links there will also take you to atheist personals, atheist dating, atheist merchandise and atheist clothing. What next, an atheist theme park?

Likening belief in God to a belief in the tooth fairy or magic goblins merely invites derision from the religious community, and justifiably so. The continual atheist bleat about the lack of scientific proof for the existence of God merely overlooks the notion that current science may simply not be up to the job. Until someone develops a `Godometer' we are in the position of stone age men trying to detect and measure microwave radiation.

Talking about this book in a national newspaper prior to its release, Grayling suggests that the time has come to pick sides. I'm entirely with him on that one. The various weaknesses of the established church have, quite rightly, been under public scrutiny for some years. It's only fair that atheism (naturalism, secularism, humanism or whatever else you want to call it) and its many absurdities should share the spotlight.

Grayling also talks about the importance of reason (There's that loaded word trundled out yet again!), reflection and sympathy. To see any published atheist use the word `sympathy' is refreshing in itself and is a credit to his background as a philosopher. However if Grayling believes that his existence is a fluke of nature in a blind, uncaring universe then he must reflect on the knowledge that his life, by definition, can enjoy little in the way of real meaning, purpose or future. That is the real tragedy of the non-believer.
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