on 12 June 2012
I'm really not an angry person, and I'm definitely of an academic mindset (Physics PhD., Computer Science postdoc). I fully expected this book not to appeal to my way of thinking at all, but I was completely wrong. I've read pretty much the works of the top atheist thinkers, both "popular atheism" works like those of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and also more scholarly philosophical or scientific critiques. I can honestly say that for pretty much all readers, Greta Christina's book is better than any of those. Way better.
OK, so it doesn't go into the depth of the scientific or philosophical arguments (though the arguments are definitely not shallow) but what it does do is explain to the 99% of human beings who don't care about the academic arguments, why they should still take the atheist viewpoint seriously. The argumentation is concise, readable and persuasive. The writing style is witty and passionate. The arguments are made relevant to all readers and explained in such a way that you are forced to take notice.
This book deserves to be much more widely read. I suggest that the recently bereaved Four Horsemen should seriously consider replacing their lost colleague with a Horsewoman. If that's even a word. And if it isn't then it should be.
on 18 May 2012
Greta Christina is a US blogger & speaker on the subject of atheism. Her cogent & well reasoned comments have been the subject of a lot of criticsm from theists, views that often boil down to 'why are you so angry' when Greta states her view clearly. Greta points out that righeous anger is a force for change, and that supporters of womens rights, rights of ethnic minorities, or gay rights in the past used their anger to drive changes, changes that are now regarded as mainstream. Even saying one is an atheist is regarded as provocative & agressive by some.
Greta calmly talks through many of the statements made by the godly & why they can make her angry. Not just confined to the obvious, new age & alternative superstitions get the same review as more tradional religions. Quite a different tone from Dawkins or Hitch, not aggresive but assertive, highly readable, fascinating, and released on Kindle - who could ask for more. Had to fight with rest of family over who read it all first.
on 17 December 2012
For the most part, this book is a big list of adverse impacts religion has had on society and people. There's a small section midway through that sets out the basic reasons why atheists don't believe in a god, but for the most part this is about the negative effects of organised religion. It's an interesting enough quick read for an atheist (I'm one), as though it covers a lot of familiar ground, there are plenty of aspects you won't have thought about. You'll very likely end up more angry than you started, but hopefully in a constructive and proactive way.
However, I'd recommend this book mostly to people who are religious. We atheists already KNOW why you get angry at us. What I often encounter though, is religious people with no idea why atheists get so worked up about them. Why not live and let live, each to their own, everybody wrapped in their own belief system? Well, this book will put you inside an atheist's head for a little while, and if you're able to put yourself in their shoes for even a few moments, you'll at least understand why so many atheists are unwilling to stay quiet, even if you disagree. It might also give you some ammunition of your own. If you know the sort of things an atheist is thinking, you may be better equipped if you ever find yourself debating with one. Atheists spend a lot more time thinking about this stuff than believers do, which inevitably means they're usually very well informed. There's no reason why believers shouldn't be as well. A snappy read, uncomfortable in places, but in a challenging way.
on 30 June 2012
I'd strongly recommend this book to any religious person, or anybody sympathetic to religion, who wants to get an insight into what we atheists are on about. But be warned. You won't find it any easy read; in fact, although it's short book, if you are capable of reading it to the end (I mean reading every every word with full attention) then it will reflect considerable credit on you and on your ability to consider points of view which you regard as utterly wrong and mischievous. For example, you may not accept, or fully accept, Greta Christina's arguments that 'liberal' as well as 'hard line' religious people are a menace, but you will understand what the arguments actually are. (Actually, my guess is that few 'hard line' committed religious people will succeed in reading the book to the end; they will either throw it down, or start skip-reading it.)
By contrast, out-of-the-closet atheists will probably find the book an easy, and very entertaining, read - it had me laughing out loud several times. It summarises and slams home, very neatly and eloquently, all the standard arguments as deployed by Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens ... and of course by previous generations of atheists.
I see that, so far, this book hasn't attracted any unfavourable reviews on Amazon, but I expect that, in due course, it will. And I predict that the theme of such reviews will be that Ms Christina is utterly ignorant of theology, philosophy, history, Biblical studies etc - 'Any first year theology student (or any intelligent sixth form student) will reject her crude, simplistic characterisation of religion ...' That's fine - but let's hope that the reviewers will actually cite some significant EXAMPLES of her ignorance, and not just trade in lofty generalisations, or concentrate on minor errors.
Although the book is written largely with the US scene in mind, nearly all of it is relevant to the UK. I'd like to see a copy of it in every UK school library. But that's too much to hope for - this book is eloquent and dangerous, and religious teachers will not want their students to get their hands on it.
on 24 October 2012
If you are an easy-going live and let live athiest then read this. Religion may now be past burning you as a heretic (in some countries), but this book may convince you that there is still alot to be worried and angry about. It anticipates the weasly responces you are going to get from the faithful.
I fear that if I give this book to christian friends they would focus on the few instances where Greta gets enraged enough to use strong language, and then use it as an excuse to condem the whole book. I am going to give it to them anyway - if they can't overlook instances of strong language that you can count on the fingers of one hand in this book then how can they overlook all the times god commits, commands or condones genocide in the bible.
This book is brilliant.
on 27 January 2014
I only learnt a year or so ago (I'm forty-four) that Americans actually believe in God. I find this fascinating and perplexing and scary. Christianity's a bit of a fringe interest here in the UK. You would have to 'come out' as Christian and open yourself up to ridicule. So, I felt like I was in the audience while I was reading this book. Greta was talking to Americans, not to me.
However, I was brought up by one of the few remaining Christians here, telling me that I would burn for eternity if I didn't believe a story that seemed incredible to me at the age of five.
The ninety-nine incitements to atheist anger are powerful stuff and should indeed serve as embarrassment and "deconversion" fodder for the religious.
Greta makes interesting arguments that even following a spiritual path is a damaging choice. I am atheist. I am not spiritual (i.e. I am not into "woo"). But I do practise Reiki. Reiki is **physically** tangible spiritual energy that one is attuned to channel. I would really like to know what Greta would make of this if she experienced it?
I love listening to Greta Christina speak. Check her out on YouTube. She rocks.
Author of 'Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia: A Diary on How I Acquired my Eating Disorder'
on 22 September 2012
An unassailable mass of cogently structured argument, delivered with wit, heart and intellectual rigour.
I consumed this book with undiluted pleasure. Thank you!
on 24 October 2013
This book is the finest book I have read to date on the topic of opposition to theistic concepts and the necessity for vocal atheism. Greta writes with incredible clarity, purpose and passion. The book itself is wonderfully constructed to knock down any possible lingering defence for the indefensible. Everyone should buy this book regardless of atheist or theist conviction.
I am not an angry atheist. I am an atheist who has a great deal of respect for others' practices and beliefs, provided they don't expect me to share them. I've seen the solace that religion can provide, but I've also seen the hurt that has been caused in the name of religion. Like anything, it has many points, good and bad and many arguments can be made for and against. I am not here to fight my corner, for one very good reason: my corner is my own. I won't try to extend it to encroach on yours or drag you kicking and screaming into mine. I feel it is important to make this distinction very clear: I am not anti-religious. Rather, I am anti-intolerance.
The reason I have to make that so clear is that I don't want this to be a review that really just provides a soapbox for an anti-religion rant. I don't care what faith anyone follows as long as they don't hurt others - physically or mentally - in its name. Here's the kicker: I would passionately and ardently argue that this applies to atheists too.
And there, I think, lies the source of my discontent about this book. It made many pro-atheism points, some of which had been fundamental in my own decisions about God and, as it was the religion I was most exposed to, Christianity. However, in the defence of an atheistic standpoint, it also made many anti-religion points. Well, that's fair enough. I'm not opposed to debate, where it is sensible, productive and courteous. That said I am fiercely opposed to the idea of one person trying to convert another.
Perhaps it's fair to say that my desire for tolerance rates more highly with me than my desire to proclaim my faith, or lack of. Therefore, when Greta Christina began to discuss "atheistic activism" I became incredibly uncomfortable. I am happy to explain to anyone why I don't follow a faith and may be passionate about my reasons. There is a huge difference, however, between being passionate about something you believe in and passionately insisting it is the only thing anyone should believe in. So when Christina talks about activism, I feel profoundly uneasy. Isn't that just another form of judgement?
The truth is, whether we judge someone based on their skin colour, language, gender, sexuality or religion, we demonstrate intolerance. The choice is whether you keep your views private and remain passively intolerant or if you take them out into the world. To me, the activism Christina advocates is just another form of active intolerance.
So, are we atheists angry? Some are, I'm sure. I do get a little angry when people make assumptions about me because of my lack of faith. My lack of religion has not robbed me of a moral compass or a sense of kindness. I also find it frustrating that when we share our reasons - so often based on logic and science - we are accused of being angry. I guess it does make you a little defensive. But am I angry? No. As I said, I am not anti-religion. To be an angry atheist would just demonstrate the active intolerance that irks me so much.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins was a well reasoned book. There was a fair amount of passionate rhetoric and, yes, some anger. His anger was largely aimed at those who have lampooned him or those who have used religion as a basis to commit atrocious deeds. Yet, despite this anger, the book was a stunningly crafted argument about the reason he has taken his stance. I suppose you could argue that publishing that was a form of activism but I don't believe so, any more than publishing the Bible is, or the Koran. When compared to Dawkins' book Why Are You Atheists So Angry? really does come across as an aggressive rant. Good points are made but the book does little to denude the idea that atheists are foaming at the mouth in rabid fury.
Recently, someone asked me if I recited the prayers and sang the hymns for a church service, such as a wedding or christening. I replied that I did and was asked if it made me feel like a hypocrite. My answer was succinct. I don't believe but that doesn't stop me respecting the feelings of those who do. In times of love or sorrow, compassion binds us all. That isn't unique to religion or atheism. We can always choose tolerance.
All in all, an interesting book that I'm glad to have read. Though I would probably recommend it to other atheists, I doubt I would spread my recommendations any wider. Thought-provoking books are always a good find. Books that incite us to try and change the beliefs of our friends and neighbours? A step towards intolerance...
I've read and then re-read Christina's book a few times now and she manages to articulate a lot of the half formed thoughts in my head coherently.
Chapter on is the 'Litany of Rage' and lays out the reasons why folk should be angry about religion, things such as:
"I’m angry that in Jerusalem, because of pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders, a major conference on gynecology refused to allow any women to speak . And I’m angry that this didn’t happen in the 15th century, or the 19th: it happened this year, 2012, the year this book is being published."
I'd never thought of the things such as this in these terms and yes, people should be angry. An eye opener of a book and gives you reason to think more about the damage that various religions are doing and the standard answer of many religious apologists of ' that's not really the religion, it's the people' doesn't wash anymore.
Well worth a read and recommended.