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Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness (Oberon Master Series) Hardcover – 17 Feb 2007
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Do religions have an inherent right to be respected? Is atheism itself a form of religion, and can there be such a thing as a 'fundamentalist atheist'? Are we witnessing a global revival in religious zeal, or do the signs point instead to religion's ultimate decline? In a series of bold, unsparing polemics, A C Grayling tackles these questions head on, exposing the dangerous unreason he sees at the heart of religious faith and highlighting the urgent need we have to reject it in all its forms, without compromise. In its place he argues for a set of values based on reason, reflection and sympathy, taking his cue from the great ethical tradition of western philosophy.
About the Author
A C Grayling is a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. The author of numerous, a regular contributor to the press and a frequent broadcaster, he is the co-author with Mick Gordon of the play On Religion, also published by Oberon Books.
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I worry about those who say they read it "In a few hours" or "in an afternoon". You can finish it in just over an hour, and if you're a fast reader, even less. It really isn't very long at all.
A brief, pungent little tome, this is a useful book to keep handy, especially when arguing with Believers on the Internet. There's one thing I would take issue with, however.
Grayling states that non-believers shouldn't call themselves "Atheists" as the very term hints at "Theism" and is therefore arguing with believers on their own turf. Fair enough, but The alternative he comes up with is "Naturalists."
Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of a "naturalist" I think of David Attenborough. That gentleman's own beliefs notwithstanding, I think the term could cause more than a little confusion.
Also, having looked at the author photograph on the flyleaf, I'm of the opinion that Grayling really ought to rethink that haircut...
"Against All Gods" is a superb look at religion in general. It raises questions I never thought of, and I am a long-standing Humanist, although I was brought up an Evangelical Lutheran.
I would, however, suggest that if you happen to be a staunch Catholic, without an 'open mind', don't bother to read it!
We start off by looking at whether or not religion is worthy of respect, of which, of course, the answer is no. The only thing that should be worthy of respect is whether a person is a decent human being. "It is time to reverse the prevailing notion that religious commitment is intrinsically deserving of respect." We then move on to more harder issues such as the inculcation of children into religion and the fact that 3/4 of Church of England schools are primary schools. As Richard Dawkins would say, this is child abuse: forcing a choice upon them before they have the mental acuity in which to make a rational decision for themselves.
If you're looking for a nice introduction for the rational rejection of belief in supernatural entities of any kind, this is it.