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4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage philosophy of religion, 29 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (Paperback)
Michel Onfray shares a delightful, full bodied, mature philosophy in his excellent 'Atheist Manifesto'. It is a well balanced, robust and easily read vintage which goes down smoothly, satisfying parts of the brain that Christian apologetics never could. Michel gives an omniscient view over the history of religion and the various philosophical viewpoints it is possible to hold. In section 3 Michel looks at the historical progress in thought from judeo-christian epistemology up to Christian atheism and on to postmodern atheism.
This is a book of calm and measured tone, a superb addition to the cellar of any discerning connoisseur of heresy but also recommended to those just venturing from the apron of monotheism. Some unaccoustomed to its bouquet may need a whole bottle of this whine before their palette appreciates it's subtle richness.
Actually in a few places Michel lets some generalisations obscure his point. For instance on page 28 he quotes from 'The Deception Revealed' by Cristovao Ferreira who wrote that The Ten Commandments were impracticable lunacy. Well Christopher Hitchens gives a superb critique of the Ten Commandments on Youtube. While I agree with Ferreira that some of the Ten are indeed flawed and none are divinely inspired, I think it is a bit cynical to not give credit to the worthy points. Do not murder, do not steal, do not lie, don't cheat on your partner, respect your parents are good as basic default rules. Dan Barker in his good book 'Godless' explains the limitations of these rules but in broad brush terms they are good laws without which society would be anarchy.
There are other points in the Bible which are interesting puzzles e.g love your enemy, a phrase which is simultaneously mad and sane, foolish and wise. Who or what is my enemy? Misleading/ false information? Sometimes the person who you might generally regard as an enemy is the one who doesn't fear to give some home truths. Maybe it meant that you should see if there are points in your enemy that you like or can agree with. For instance Christians would do well to read the History of Western civilization and higher Bible criticism then they might end up with a more balance view. Atheist Manifesto would be a good starting point for them. Isn't this the value of love your enemy? It helps to overcome tribal fundamentalism and racism and exaggerated propaganda. Get to know the detail of what the other person actually holds then sometimes you see the differences are not so great and you can hate each other a little less strongly. Even Zarathustra said,' A man of knowledge must be able to love his enemies'. In a war each side shows a sort of love for their enemy by studying each others tactics and technology and stealing the good/successful ideas off each other. The trouble with the phrase 'love your enemy', that makes it appear ridiculous, is that it is so vague and generalised; it really means 'love the good points & intelligent ideas wherever they appear.' The ideas in the Bible that are good are not divinely inspired, they existed in other cultures before the Bible but still 'The golden rule' is a valueable starting point.
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