Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea in theory, but just didn't work for me, 5 Sep 2012
This review is from: God (All That Matters) (Paperback)
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In theory this should have been a great read. With his 'credentials' (ex priest, ex atheist, ex physicist - is there anything he sticks at) Vernon is in a pretty unique position which should enable him to take a detached view on all that is religion.

The premise of the book is not to argue for or against religion but to simply present the thoughts and discussions others have had throughout history while wrangling religions big questions - "why does god allow suffering", "is god love" or even good and the more contemporary "is god green".

Unfortunately I found Vernon's style a little too detached even for this type of appraisal. It is difficult to know where the author's opinion is being expressed and what is the opinion of the thinker being written about.

On top of that there were far too many "What's that got to do with the price of fish" moments. I was reminded of South Park's OJ Simpson trial episode (or the trial itself, I suppose, but it's South Park that came to mind - if the glove don't fit you must acquit. These logical non-sequiturs grated after a while and usually ended with "Therefore God exists" or "...therefore God is good". The discussion leading to these conclusions often has nothing whatsoever to do with the conclusion being drawn, but again you are left wondering whether these are the conclusions of the author or the original 'thinker'.

Sadly I found a lot of the discussion (presumably not Vernon's own opinions, but I cant be sure exactly who thinks what where) to be pseudo-mysterious bilge. It's all well and good putting forward others' opinions but when they consist of circular arguments and empty philosophising like much of this appears to it is difficult to take seriously.

I'm a big fan of reading alternative views and have read Dawkins extensively (well written regardless of whether you agree with him or not) and I've even suffered through Harun Yahya (circular arguments and pseudo-scientific nonsense mostly), but God - All That Matters fails to make any real impact simply because of its detached presentation rather than its content.

It's all very well putting alternative views out there, but they need to be coherent to have any real worth. It is a fact of life that all opinions are not equal, and when they are as outdated and disproven as some of those presented here they do little to advance anyone's understanding. To paraphrase Richard Feynman, it does not matter how elegant a theory or respected a scholar when they are wrong they are wrong. To present pure bunkum as valid theory helps no one and really detracts from what I believe was Vernon's intent - to show how we got to today's thinking on religion and why there are so many, often conflicting, belief systems.

Just to be clear, I am certainly not saying that all of the beliefs systems here have no merit whatsoever (my personal opinion on this is really not relevant here). However, Vernon mixes modern thinking ('IsGod Green?' could only really come from today's Eco focused world) to the fire and brimstone hocus pocus of ancient times. I suspect this is done to give context and historical background to how god got to where 'he' is today. That IS a worthy topic, but, as I keep coming back to, the point seems lost due to the style of writing.

Every so often I did find something that peaked my interest, but these occasions were just too few and far between to recommend the book.

God - All That Matters is one of a series of 'All That Matters' books on a wide range of subjects. I don't think I'll be tracking down any of the others though.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Oct 2012 14:18:29 BDT
I agree with your review apart from the last bit - I've read a few of the All That Matters books and this was the most disappointing for me. I wouldn't let it put you off the others though

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Oct 2012 22:22:12 BDT
The Fat Monk says:
Thanks for the info. This is the only one in the series that I've read and it really put me off trying the others. Hopefully your reassurance will help others considering other titles.
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