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on 22 July 2014
This is a masterly summary of the arguments for atheism, focused mainly on the Christian religion, and the problems it finds when up against modern thinking, particularly science. If you are an atheist it's a valuable short course in rationality, if you are religious, you might find it valuable coaching in why your churches are emptier every year.
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on 17 March 2010
I picked up this book - as I imagine many will - knowing the previous works and essays of Grayling (including his contributions to Prospect magazine). It is certainly a quick read but covers a lot of ground. Even though the price did catch my eye for what is a fairly short book (although it is in hardback which adds a few pennies), I feel such a book - that you are likely to return and refer to - is certainly worth it.

Grayling is one our greatest contemporary philosophers - and this book adds detail to his views on religion and the current debates about it. The chapters are individually very interesting (particularly the one regarding Bertrand Russell) and flow well together. For those who are not familiar with Grayling, he does fall into the Harris, Dennett, Dawkins and Hitchens side of the debates regarding religion; I actually think this book supplements the God Delusion (Richard Dawkins) and God Is Not Great (Christopher Hitchens) very well - it is almost a summary of their main points, but, importantly, it adds Grayling's own ideas, knowledge and commentary. The discussions, arguments and indeed the writing style read clearly, intelligently and have huge relevance in the world.

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in philosophy or even politics and current affairs - particularly where religion is concerned (such as the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, Creationism and Intelligent Design). Grayling's excellence as a writer and thinker shine throughout, as it does in many of his other works (which I also highly recommend!)
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on 2 January 2011
A delightful little gem of a book at around 100 very short pages, beautifully bound, a casket packed tight with essential ideas and information on the perennial theism/atheism debate. It is elegantly and clearly written and though its author is a professional philosopher you need no technical knowledge to understand it. If you have children you should buy it for them when they are 16+ as an essential part of their education. It contains a brief historical overview of the arguments against theism (and necessarily the arguments for) as well as a review of the more recent literature (the new atheism as it is called). It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant religious people often are of the arguments against their (or any) faith - arguments that have been around hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years. Most of them have never heared of Hume or Kant. Every time you enter a debate its like starting again from scratch. Earlier proponents of religion would laugh at them - they made it their job to know the enemy - if you are are going to believe at least get informed - don't do so in ignorance. For the uncommitted it's a great introduction to the debate - you will not find a clearer explanation of the issues anywhere. Yes the author is an atheist and the book is all the better for being a passionate advocacy of atheism. A neutral exposition of the arguments would be anaemic. ( If you want balance follow it up by reading Anthony Flew "There is a God" - you won't find any new arguments here but at least you can view them from the other side). If I have any quibbles at all with Grayling its with his occasional expression of an over simplified view of the history of science - if you want to know why you will have to write and ask!
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on 21 January 2013
But the context is usually enough to know what they mean. Apart from that, and failing to translate French, a cardinal sin, this is an absolute corker. The author hits all ten pins in his demolition of faith and superstition. His victory is so complete that I almost felt sorry for believers. One point I thought was great is that religion in this country, Anglicanism, is only benign and touchy-feely because it is weak. If it were strong, countless international examples and history attests, it would be abusing us and burning atheists at the stake. Theocracies always are tyrannies. Great collection.
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on 6 February 2013
The clarity of his view is well conveyed by skilful writing and perspicacity. As Grayling says, there are three separate debates in motion but they are skilfully managed and are drawn together in a telling summary of his views. If this were a book in my library it would be defaced with side lining and underlining galore. It is challenging but well worth the time for those with an enquiring mind
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on 18 February 2013
I found all the essays to be interesting but some were more interesting than others. I particularly enjoyed "Why Bertrand Russell was not religious" which made me question my own position on religion, i.e. that I am an agnostic. If I follow Bertrand Russell's reasoning I should be an atheist.
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on 13 March 2013
This is a good book for anyone who likes to examine ideas and life in general. The author is very clear about the damage done to all societies by organised religion and he puts it in a historical context as well as looking at the state of the world today.
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on 9 February 2013
Some brilliantly written essays, with some great arguments against religion. For anyone questioning religion and it's beliefs. This book truly opens your eyes to the benefits of atheism.
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on 12 February 2013
Short essays on exactly why religion is unnecessary, dangerous and just plain stupid.
In a very readable style that makes you want to read more on the subject.
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on 6 February 2013
Not as developed an argument as I expected, in places repetitious, but in tune with my own experience. Well worth reading.
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