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15 of 209 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not another one!, 5 Jun 2007
This review is from: Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness (Oberon Masters) (Hardcover)
Whoops, another God bashing book is released and AC Grayling jumps neatly on the Dawkins bandwagon and into the laps of eager atheists and amused believers.

The notion that religion is in decline is a recurring piece of wishful thinking on the part of the world's atheist minority. Whereas many in the UK are, indeed, spiritually bankrupt, belief is very much on the resurgence in other parts of the world, particularly in areas formerly labouring under communist (or other) repressions.

Is atheism a form of religion? It's certainly a lifestyle. Take a look at rationalresponders.com for an example of just how rabid atheist thought can be. Links there will also take you to atheist personals, atheist dating, atheist merchandise and atheist clothing. What next, an atheist theme park?

Likening belief in God to a belief in the tooth fairy or magic goblins merely invites derision from the religious community, and justifiably so. The continual atheist bleat about the lack of scientific proof for the existence of God merely overlooks the notion that current science may simply not be up to the job. Until someone develops a `Godometer' we are in the position of stone age men trying to detect and measure microwave radiation.

Talking about this book in a national newspaper prior to its release, Grayling suggests that the time has come to pick sides. I'm entirely with him on that one. The various weaknesses of the established church have, quite rightly, been under public scrutiny for some years. It's only fair that atheism (naturalism, secularism, humanism or whatever else you want to call it) and its many absurdities should share the spotlight.

Grayling also talks about the importance of reason (There's that loaded word trundled out yet again!), reflection and sympathy. To see any published atheist use the word `sympathy' is refreshing in itself and is a credit to his background as a philosopher. However if Grayling believes that his existence is a fluke of nature in a blind, uncaring universe then he must reflect on the knowledge that his life, by definition, can enjoy little in the way of real meaning, purpose or future. That is the real tragedy of the non-believer.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Nov 2007 21:52:27 GMT
Not another one? How many God-promoting books are released each year? "To see any published atheist using the word 'sympathy' is refreshing..."? If you replace the word "atheist" with "Jew", just maybe, you might be able to see how vicious your comment is. And just maybe, you would be able to see non-believers as human beings just like yourself. Maybe that is wishful thinking on my part?

Posted on 30 Mar 2008 13:27:45 BDT
I am an atheist, but all that means is that I have found no evidence to believe in the existence of a divine creator. Reason does not prevent me from finding meaning in my life or life in general I just realise that such meaning is relative. It is impossible to take seriously an assertion that there is such a thing as "real meaning" and not ask what that assertion means. Such is the function of reason. This reviewer needs pigeonholes to put us all in (various -isms are mentioned) until he emerges from his intellectual bunker he'll never come close to convincing anyone that he is not simply fighting an us versus them war of words on behalf of his God.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Apr 2008 15:34:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Apr 2008 20:00:48 BDT
'I am an atheist, but all that means is that I have found no evidence to believe in the existence of a divine creator.' Sorry to sound like a pedant but your comment sounds more like a justification of agnosticism than atheism? Accepting that we are not necessarily talking about the Christian-Judaeo idea of God, what 'evidence' do you have to reject 'the existence of a divine creator'?
A healthy agnosticism avoids dogmatic presuppositions - from this perspective one can decide whether such knowledge is possible at all, and allows the thinker to entertain the different positions (which are often vehemently dogmatic/prejudiced) whilst being open to the possibility of persuasion (from either of the entrenched camps - or perhaps from other less determined 'pigeonholes') through rational dialogue and personal experience.

Posted on 8 Apr 2008 10:32:08 BDT
G. E. Rake says:
"The continual atheist bleat about the lack of scientific proof for the existence of God merely overlooks the notion that current science may simply not be up to the job. Until someone develops a `Godometer' we are in the position of stone age men trying to detect and measure microwave radiation."

I have to contest your first statement here. On page 50 of his book 'The God Delusion', Richard Dawkins, who is perhaps the most well known atheist of the moment, describes his position as follows:

'Very low probability [of God existing], but short of zero. De facto atheist. "I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'

I think the overwhelming majority of people who do not believe in God would also place themselves in this category. If a 'Godometer' was ever invented then I'm sure they would all reconsider their position in light of the evidence it produces.

By the way, I largely agree with your analogy concerning the stone age men, but fail to see why you think this is an argument in your favour. Why exactly would some of these stone age men be insisting there is microwave radiation in the first place?

Posted on 25 Apr 2008 12:09:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Apr 2008 12:09:53 BDT
Dogged says:
I do try hard to resist entering these debates. Sigh.
To add to Rake's nice analysis of Dawkin's reasoning, I am an atheist to the exact same extent that I am an a-goblinist and an a-Zeusist and an a-GiantPurpleTurtleist. Sure, I am "agnostic" to the extent that Descartes doubted his existence: indeed, there is very little that we can "know" 100%. But to the extent that I know anything, I know this: the idea of God is no more seductive to me than the idea of Santa or the idea that I can fly unassisted, therefore I have no fear in proclaiming my disbelief. There is a pervasive idea that asserting ones atheism is a big deal - the arrogant and sweeping claim of a disrespectful narcissist. But it's really not. I decided at about the age of 9 that the whole idea of God didn't make much sense, simply because at that time nobody could tell me exactly what they meant by "God". Here I am at 32, and still I've not been able to pin down what the hell we're talking about.
Does he have a beard or not people? Well?
Love to all. At least everyone here reads books.
t

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Apr 2008 13:21:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Apr 2008 18:03:04 BDT
Dogged, you seem to acknowledge the role non-theistic faith plays in everyday life and whilst I don't think this necessarily entails Cartesian scepticism one must allow for human epistemological limits, as well as the boundaries of induction/scientific method. Descartes' hyperbolic doubt did not include the doubting of his own existence (if by this we mean his existence as res cogitans) - indeed this was the one thing he believed he could indubitably assert without reference to the benevolence/honesty of God. Whilst your question 'Does he have a beard or not people?' was probably meant in jest, it seems to me that trenchant dogmatists can often be too quick to ridicule an idea through over-simplification. Atheism has always interested me as much as agnosticism and theism (Mackie's 'The Miracle of Theism', for example, was a brilliant piece of writing) but it seems that the current popularist wave of pseudo-philosophical atheistic tirades contain implicit, undefended presuppositions/prejudices (naturalism, positivistism, humanism etc), and their rhetoric is often uncomfortably patronizing and smug. It seems that much of the public these days is convinced that these issues have been resolved in favour of either of the two warring parties (currently the atheists appear to be the more vocal and fashionable), when in fact both views are not quite as ridiculous as advocates of the opposition camps insist. Polemic will often be met with polemic - it is open dialogue and reflection that I believe is most fruitful...don't you think?!?

Posted on 17 Jul 2008 12:58:46 BDT
Martin_z says:
"However if Grayling believes that his existence is a fluke of nature in a blind, uncaring universe then he must reflect on the knowledge that his life, by definition, can enjoy little in the way of real meaning, purpose or future. That is the real tragedy of the non-believer."

You, as much as I, are a fluke of nature - if the phone had rung at a particular time nine months before you were born, you wouldn't be here. And for you to state that "by definition" your life has meaning and mine doesn't is just nonsense.

So, because you're a believer, you have real meaning, purpose and a future, and I don't? See, that smug attitude is why I don't really take to religion and religious people - the assertion that because you believe, you have a somehow deeper meaning to your life (along with an arrogant assumption that you'll be going to heaven and I won't). Me - I believe that this is my only shot at life - so I'll do the best I can to make it a good one for me and the people around me. And I don't need God to tell me how to do that.

Posted on 8 Oct 2008 10:54:29 BDT
R. Davies says:
"AC Grayling jumps neatly on the Dawkins bandwagon" - he he, joining the how many Christians who cashed in!

"Likening belief in God to a belief in the tooth fairy or magic goblins merely invites derision from the religious community, and justifiably so. The continual atheist bleat about the lack of scientific proof for the existence of God merely overlooks the notion that current science may simply not be up to the job". - Maybe it isn't up to the job of finding the tooth fairy either? How can you be sure? I guess you have faith in that existing too? You've attempted to use a God-of-the-gaps philosophy to support His/Her existence, while implying this philosophy can't be used to show the existence of goblins etc. You invite derision on yourself!

"Until someone develops a `Godometer' we are in the position of stone age men trying to detect and measure microwave radiation". - I think someone else has raised this point: Did stoneage man worship microwave radiation? No. I, like many atheists (i.e. very very agnostic) have no vested interest in whether god (or tooth fairies, goblins or Russell's teapot) actually exists, and am happy to revise my opinion based on evidnece and reason (there's that word again ;-)). This is exactly what stone age man did, many millenia later.

"The various weaknesses of the established church have, quite rightly, been under public scrutiny for some years. It's only fair that atheism (naturalism, secularism, humanism or whatever else you want to call it) and its many absurdities should share the spotlight". - Care to share an inherant absurdity? While many atheists may do many bad things, you can't claim they did anything in the name of 'atheism', as much as you can't claim they did it in the name of 'not collecting stamps' (analogy stolen, but accurate). Atheism is not believing/having faith in the existence of in a deity. Why? Because there is no rational reason to. Hardly absurd.

"However if Grayling believes that his existence is a fluke of nature in a blind, uncaring universe then he must reflect on the knowledge that his life, by definition, can enjoy little in the way of real meaning, purpose or future. That is the real tragedy of the non-believer". - No tragedy. I make meaning for my own life, brought from satisfying myself and gaining enjoyment from satisfying those around me.

Posted on 8 Nov 2008 16:00:16 GMT
Atheism is a lifestyle? Classic ...

'The real tragedy' is that so many people are so weak minded that they cannot reconcile the extraordinary and entirely natural truth of their existence without clinging to increasingly wacky sky-god fairy stories.

"Current science may not be up to the job". You are correct, science cannot yet answer all of the questions about how life evolved. However, let's go back 500 years. How much could science explain then? Almost nothing, leaving the field open to god-botherers. Now consider how much religious 'truth' has been fatally undermined by the spectacular achievements of science in those 500 years, and particularly in the last 100. Imagine someone trying to sell DNA as an idea in the 16th century and the reaction of any of the major religions. Potentially fatal! But now only the most utterly bonkers of the god-squad would try and suggest DNA and genetics are anything but fact.

Now look forward 500 years - assuming fanatical Islamic fundamentalists, nuclear-armed Jewish psychotics or right-wing Christian rapture-freaks haven't managed to nuke the entire planet - and let's take a wild guess at how many of the absolute foundations of faith remain in place. Do you really want to bet that science won't have made advances that we can't even guess at now?

You're still in the iron age. Please catch up. Atheists are clearly still in the minority on planet Earth. That doesn't actually mean we are wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2008 16:01:28 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Nov 2008 16:01:54 GMT
Martin Z: Beautifully put - one for my quote board! Love it.
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