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30 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book, and a major challenge to atheists., 23 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris are Fundamentally Wrong (Paperback)
This is an excellent book. It is powerful and polite challenge to atheism as a belief system.

The book is well produced, well written and fully referenced. It is easy and straightforward to read. The author makes his arguments briefly and well. He acknowledges the strengths of his opponent's positions, and so accepts the challenge to respond to them with proper argument. His main opponents in mind are Dawkins. Hitchens and Harris.

I think the author succeeds in achieving the aim expressed in the subtitle of showing "Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are fundamentally wrong." I suspect my atheist friends will disagree with my assessment, and that's fair enough. Markham is a considered and considerate author, and keen to encourage conversation, not polarities.

To summarise the content for readers Markham makes his case against atheism on six main grounds, namely:-
1. We have a spiritual sense- this doesn't come from nowhere.
2. His analysis of the problem that our knowledge is always local and rooted, but that we have beliefs (hopefully held tentatively and humbly) that go far beyond our locality. (Think about Kant in Konigsberg...and how far round the world his thoughts have gone!)
3. Science is now one of the best reasons for faith
4. His answer to the problem of suffering. (a version of the "free will" defence)
5. The problem of Islamophobia- and how we can better understand Islam and its followers- and why Muslims and Christians need to listen more to each other's ideas.
6. The implications of Nietzsche's thought about how far reaching and damaging the consequences of the death of God are- he thinks Dawkins et al have failed to fully understand the seriousness of the death of God both for morality and science.

This brief summary is outline only, and does not do justice to the quality of Markham's presentation of evidence.

Markham's book is a demonstration of the fact that Christianity is a coherent, sensible and rational response to the complex world we find ourselves in. As such it will surprise atheists, and in the same way that atheists force Christians to sharpen their arguments, I think this book will make some atheists come up with better arguments for their views.

I can recommend this book to Christians for encouragement, and to atheists as a spur to their thinking.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 May 2010 15:05:17 BDT
 says:
The book answers no questions and starts with a big fat lie. Your review is totally misleading. I have never, ever, met a happy christian and you know yourself they don't exist.

The god hypothesis answers no questions because it only shifts the argument back one step. If there had to me a maker, then there also had top be a maker-maker. I repudiate both. To answer your points:
1. Patently begging the question
2. We pass ideas on to one another. So what? Lots of animals do.
3. Utterly false, there is no scientific argument for faith, but many who think they understand science and do not.
4. Free will is a myth. We are mechanistic no matter how much we think we aren't.
5. Irrelevant. Why is this an argument against atheism?
6. Morality is independent of religion, as you well know. Religions themselves make morality very dubious.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 21:45:53 BDT
Mike
Your comments are unhelpful. They break rapport and drive us apart from one another. They emphasise difference, which is needless, especially when you have already had your say about the book in your own review.

I wrote my review as honestly as I can, and with the aim of describing the book to help potential readers decide if it is likely to be what they want to read or not. There is no intention to mislead, and your description of my review as misleading is itself misleading.

You may never, ever, have met a happy Christian- but please do not presume to know what and who I myself know or do not know. I know many happy Christians...and happy atheists...and happy all sorts of people. Also many sad Christians, atheists and sad all sorts of people in many sorts of predicaments.

"Morality is independent of religion" is a debatable proposition, and the arguments can be made in many ways on both sides. Loving your neighbour still seems a pretty valid starting point to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 21:57:41 BDT
love reading says:
Hey Mike, that's a huge generalisation you've made about happy Christians not existing. I'm not going to go into the faith argument with you, but I am a very happy person and my happiness is because of my Christianity and my relationship with God. I really don't understand how you can think that as it really is the happiest most fulfilling life I could think of living. Also I would feel so utterly depressed to to put my head on the pillow at night and think it was all down to random fate - to me that's unhappiness.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2010 00:40:11 BDT
S. Parrish says:
Actually, religious people tend to be significantly happier than non-religious ones. See for example Arthur Brooks "Gross National Happiness." Though the book is taken from America, it is hard to believe that the situation is that much different elsewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jun 2010 11:55:14 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 21 Oct 2011 08:23:40 BDT]

Posted on 30 Jun 2010 11:57:30 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 21 Oct 2011 08:23:40 BDT]

Posted on 7 Oct 2010 15:32:54 BDT
Oh wow, a GP who does not know his arse from his elbow. Poor patients.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Oct 2012 22:42:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Oct 2012 22:45:59 BDT
mad_humanist says:
"Also I would feel so utterly depressed to to put my head on the pillow at night and think it was all down to random fate - to me that's unhappiness."

Well first of all you could not have been born without your parents. And if you mean evolution by "random fate", well evolution is like the tides. The behaviour of the individual water molecules might be random, but the tides are highly predictable. Evolution is not so predictable but good predictions can be made about which species will go extinct and successful strategies often evolve multiple times through convergence.

I find it depressing that Christians say they need God to make their lives worthwhile. I can't say I find it puzzling because I remember how it was. But once you have thoroughly escaped from religion, you look back and think "How did I ever waste my life hanging on God like that?".

Posted on 13 Oct 2012 12:04:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Oct 2012 12:07:15 BDT
mad_humanist says:
I can attest that this, "I can recommend this book to Christians for encouragement, and to atheists as a spur to their thinking." is absolutely true, albeit in a fairly simple way.

Firstly it makes some atheists think because it gives us insight into Markham's thinking. We don't find anything their to really challenge our views, but still he has read somethings we have not read, or maybe read them in a different way. The tragedy of modern Christian writing is that once you have a clear grasp of the arguments and have freed yourself from the emotional need to avoid them, very little still challenges one. There are exceptions of course. Anselm's ontological argument will continue to tease but it is an old argument and ultimately vacuous. Alvin Platinga really does make Atheists think, but not change their views, and you have to dedicate your career to even getting that far.

And of course Markham really does encourage Christians. He is an erudite, eloquent and intelligent person shouting that the New Atheists are completely wrong. But he is not really engaging with the issues. He is just putting up a good appearance of having done so.
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Reviewer

Dr. Peter Davies
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: Halifax, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 542