Irreligion Paperback – 2 Jul 2009
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"He is as sure-footed as a tiger as he prowls through the theocratic landscape pouncing on sloppy thinking. To a large extent he succeeds in demolishing the arguments of believers." "--The News & Observer "(Raleigh) "Paulos . . . knocks the props from under the classic arguments for the existence of God . . . Written with a charming skepticism that is not off-putting or arrogant." --"Amicus Dei"
About the Author
John Allen Paulos is a professor of mathematics at Temple University. His books include the bestseller "Innumeracy: Mathematical" "Illiteracy and Its Consequences "(H&W, 1988), "A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market," and "A Mathematician Reads the Newspapers."
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is organized into three parts: first come four classical arguments for God's existence, then four subjective arguments, and finally four "psycho-mathematical" arguments. It's worth emphasizing that these are arguments in the grown-up sense of offering reasons or evidence in support of a conclusion, and not simply statements of personal opinion. You're meant to take them seriously, to be prepared to change your mind if persuaded, and, if you disagree, to offer reasons why. Faith so often "wins" because it avoids the hard work of argument and plumps for wishful thinking to get to where it wants to go.
Each argument is clearly laid out, premises and conclusions enumerated and simplified so we see exactly what's going on. (This admirable quality, the will to explain and not obfuscate, is more often found in scientists and novelists than in theologians or pedlars of new age quackery, who cater for and prey upon the ignorance of those who "are more impressed by fatuous blather that they don't understand than by simple observations that they do".Read more ›
In his Preface, Paulos states his skepticism emerged at an early age. He hasn't let it rest, working it to confront numerous situations. He early recognised the unanimity of things, which made him feel part of everything. Instead of attributing the universal relationship of matter to the supernatural, he turned instead to wondering why others did. In so doing he's accumulated a number of assertions purportedly supporting the notion of a deity. Each sets a condition, proposes an absurd - if frequently forwarded - supportive supposition to reach an unwarranted conclusion. A typical classic runs:
1. The world in general seems to evidence intention and direction
2. There must be a director behind this purpose
3. The entity directing must be a god, thereby proving its existence.
Paulos notes that the teleological argument goes back to ancient Greece, but is best typified today by William Paley's early 19th Century concept of "natural theology". That the idea remains current is a testimony to the failure of today's education or Western society's loss of a sense of logic.Read more ›
The main reason that I give it only three stars is that it left me feeling unsatisfied. Now this may well be because this is an area in which I have read considerably and I may be unfairly comparing it to other books on irreligion.
It is important to clarify something: despite its title this book is not really about religion but rather the inadequacy of the arguments for belief in God. (By contrast, "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins is possibly more about religion than about the latter. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is a far more enjoyable read.)
The arguments do indeed seem very inadequate, so much so that one gets the sense that Paulos didn't have to think too hard to dispose of them. One is left wondering, "Is this really all that theism has going for it?" Unfortunately I think it is - those of us who would like to believe in an omnibenevolent deity are unable to do so for this very reason.
Anyone who takes the question of God's existence seriously should read at least one book of this kind. In that respect, this short book is as good as any.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In this book John Allen Paulos,uses mathematical argument to show why belief in God is illogical and inconsistent with a rational perspective. Read morePublished on 23 April 2012 by Lee
Not quite the "virtuoso performance" referred to in a quote on the dust cover, but a mix of incisive demolition of many common "there must be a God because... Read morePublished on 5 Dec. 2009 by pend
Not a bad book - nice and concise - but did not always explain how the maths. related to the truth or otherwise of various religions. Didn't rally help me draw any new conclusions.Published on 29 Mar. 2009 by KJ Hookey
First the good. It's extremely useful to have all these arguments and their refutations laid out in one place. Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2008 by TMcW
God will exist as long as humans in their present form exist. God lives within the hearts and minds of humans. Read morePublished on 26 Sept. 2008 by Dennis Littrell
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