64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Companion Book for Lapsed Believers,
This review is from: God Collar (Paperback)Marcus Brigstocke has commented on religion before. A few years back his stand-up routine on "The Now Show" asking the followers of the three Abrahamic faiths "Not to kill us all...please" was as funny as it was thought provoking, and was one of a number of catalysts for me personally to become an Atheist (we don't have a special name for the conversion process, maybe we should)
It's hard for none -believers to form "groups" or "committees" because nothing unites us other than our lack of faith. But for me personally, Marcus is about as close as it comes.
This book (which is loosely based on his Edingurgh Festival show of the same name - but with much more content)explains why he has no faith in terms that would feel probably familiar to many who claim to have faith.
He explains why God (I'll use a capital "G" - though I may stop doing so in the future..it's habit) is not for him, and how terrifying a literal biblical (or quran based, or tora based) god would be.
He explains why, if the Bible were to be taken literally, he would not know of one person who would qualify for eternal life at God's side. Certainly not Mother Teresa et al. Brigstocke rails at the hypocracy of "revisionism" and "believing the bits you like and ignoring the bits you don't" of each holy book - and altering those bits around as the social zeitgeist demands it. It was less than 100 years ago in most of the world when the Bible was used as a solid argument that god was FOR slavery, even now hundreds of thousands of African children are born condemned to a life (mostly without parents) and an early AIDS stricken death because the Bible condemns barrier contraception.
There are passages where Brigstocke enters into dialogue with a biblical version of god and explans his problems and tries harder than most to rationlize a good reason why these holy canons "are what they are". The fact that he fails is more down to the twisted logic and duplicitous nature of the books rather than his own effort in trying to make sense of them.
Of course we are only human, as ours is "not to understand". There is no book that will "convert" the faithful, none will ever be written.
By definition faith does not require a logical basis for belief - if it did it wouldn't be faith - ergo - there is no point really railing against it.
So this book is "preaching to the unconverted" or at best those who are questioning their belief with an open mind.
As such, it's a book that is both serious and funny in equal measure. There will be reviews here that detest this book for it's topic and tone, and that's a good thing.
Just becasue you can't win an argument against faith, it doesn't mean you should stop challenging it. Faith unchallenged becomes a terrifying prospect - a potential "big brother" world with self appointed Demigogs ruling over us as if they were the proxy of a higher power, perverting the world to their own will. There are places in the world where this still goes on today, books like this form a small part of a "barrier of logic" that might just prevent a sectarian and religion based holocaust... but probably won't.
To go back to Marcus "Now Show".."To the Abrahamic faiths...Please don't kill us all"
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Jun 2011 10:12:13 BDT
Patricia Baker says:
I think you mean either "demigod" or "demagogue", neither of which needs a capital letter. "Demigog" is quite a good word, though.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2011 14:36:03 BDT
Thanks for that. Speech to text typo (it must me a homonym). Dragon speech to text is always doing that to me. "Spelling centre" has it as an alternative to demagogue - but like you, I'm not convinced.
Note to self: Must try harder when proofing!
Posted on 27 Jun 2011 17:33:39 BDT
M. D. Worsley says:
"and an early AIDS stricken death because the Bible condemns barrier contraception"
Where in the Bible does it condemn barrier contraception?
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jun 2011 11:40:51 BDT
Pen Mane says:
why does the catholic church say they can't use it then?
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jun 2011 14:22:25 BDT
W. M. Sullivan says:
because they're labouring under a misconception.
Posted on 29 Jun 2011 08:29:56 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 1 Mar 2012 13:19:39 GMT]
Posted on 5 Jul 2011 00:47:58 BDT
Peter Jones says:
Cheers for your review. Just some thoughts as I read...
"He explains why, if the Bible were to be taken literally, he would not know of one person who would qualify for eternal life at God's side." - Marcus reaches a good conclusion - that's what Jesus thought too, which was why Christians believe he came to make it possible. Christianity is the only faith that says 'if heaven's there, we're too messed up to get their ourselves, none of us are good enough to qualify for eternal life - but God in his love will make it possible for us.' Every other faith demands that you try and save yourself by impressing God through good works - Christianity says, God has already done it for you (grace).
I'm a Christian, I understand why people have various opinions about following Jesus - not really here for a conversation about it so much as observing that Marcus' conclusion, if you've communicated it accurately, is very true. He's a funny guy, and his piece on the Now Show last year amused and moved and challenged me too. It sounds like this book is moving, well written and honestly presented, so I look forward to having a read.
PS. He's also right to rail against revisionism but I hope he takes into account that one should read the Bible in context and attempt to understand and apply genre rules, taking into account the original writer's and hearers' cultural context, just as we would when we read Shakespeare or any other literature.
PPS. The Bible doesn't have any comment to make about contraception - the Catholic Church's stand on this issue is a great example of humans playing god themselves rather than paying attention to what the scriptures actually say.
Finally, you write "By definition faith does not require a logical basis for belief - if it did it wouldn't be faith" but that assumes only one definition of the word faith. Jesus describes following him as being part of a new covenant, so faith is more like 'loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person; ie. "keep the faith"'. Rather than 'blind' faith relationship with Jesus is more like the 'faithfulness' that I try and practice in my marriage ie. trust. Thankfully, in this covenant all I need to do is trust in him.
Not a preach I hope, just some thoughts, please don't hate, thanks again for taking the time to review - I look forward to reading the book.
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2011 19:20:33 BDT
Hi Ewan - no hate here. Nice points.
Yes - That was an error on my part. I'm aware it's the RC's in particular that condemn barrier contraception. However, out of the 100,000+ different sub denominations of christianity (oh yes - over 100,000 different sub religions) The RC's are by no means alone on doing this.
Your point about faith is also correct. However I was particularly talking about arguing an atheistic viewpoint with someone with faith. If they concede the argument on logical grounds it would seem that - in the context of an anti-theistic debate - they would have little or no faith. (I wish I could say that with a Darth Vader accent)
For none religious people the activities of those proporting to be acting on behalf of a deity...and the actions of the deity it/him/herself are one and the same thing. As atheists we understand that everything done in the name of "god" or "religion" or "the bible" or any particular "church" is done by man in various self delusional disguises, often using fear and the hallowing nature of time to add credence.
I would like everyone to enjoy full freedom of belief. But watching ex Bosnian warlords on TV this evening (christians who murdered tens of thousands of muslims because - and solely because - they were muslims) All I would ask for those with strong religious leaning is "Please don't kill us all".
@ Kerion. Hitler was a pagan. Now to a religious person "pagan" can be a synonym for "atheist"..but take it from me, for an atheist "pagan" is a synonym for "religious". He still believed in unexplanable forces and spirits, whether these were the same ones that mainstream religion talks about is neither here nor there as far as an atheist is concerned, it's still talking about moondust and fantasy as far as we are concerned.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jul 2011 12:23:58 BDT
Sometimes Hitler said he was a pagan. Sometimes he said he was a christian. Sometimes he said he was an atheist. I don't think anyone really knows what he believed. Still, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who killed many, many times as many people as Hitler, most certainly were atheists and (Stalin in particular) persecuted religious people to a horrifying extent. So to use your own very flawed "logic", you should stop being an atheist and atheism should be condemned and outlawed immediately.
However, to use simple common sense, that would be absurd and unfair. Very nearly as absurd, in fact, as seeing an atheist demanding, yet again, that people who shared no part of hitler's crimes (or the crusades or any of the other despicable horrors in religion's past) should be made answerable for them despite the fact that of course they abhor them as much as any atheist. No crime has been committed against you yet you demand that those who have committed no crime be punished.
I'll do you a deal: I'll answer for the crimes of Bosnian warlords the very same day you answer for Stalin's. Does that sound fair?
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2011 00:21:51 BDT
@ V. Black
Re-reading my post - it was a simple statement replying to Kieron - I can't find anything that would lead you to conclude that I had posited an argument about anyone stopping being anything.
I mention the posit that Hitler more often than not proported to be a Pagan (Himmler and others most certainly were) but I don't see where you state I have used any flawed "logic".
Your second paragraph seems like a classic "straw man" attack on an argument that was never made
I demand punishment?..... Where?
No crime has been commited against me?.... How on earth would you know that?
In short - what on earth are you on about?
Do you read other people's posts before you reply? It seems not.
I don't know whether you are religious or not - but your skewed take on what seems to be a clearly written paragraph. Adding meaning and content that isn't there and "tilting at windmills" reminds me of the attitude I face from religious people all the time.