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Customer Review

on April 7, 2007
Doubtless, fanatical atheists will in time come to review this book on Amazon and hail it for extolling the truth: that there is no God and that to live as though there were is not only to delude yourself but outight dangerous, possibly even immoral.

However, it is virtually impossible - and I grant you, it is a VERY short book - to find a single argument within these pages. It's more of an atheist's outburst really. Grayling, I'm led to believe an otherwise respectable philosopher, is here incontinently assertive, without a shred of research or argument to back any of it up. Despite the different chapter headings (or "essays") and therefore, presumably, intended topics, Grayling invariably returns to pounding on the open door of "religion has done lots of bad things". Yes. Lots of things. Agreed. Though it has done many a good thing also (read Ward's eloquent study "Is Religion Dangerous" for a proper discussion). And for some strange reason, Grayling appears to have a fixation with comparing the suffering of Jesus during the crucifixion to that of childbirth! Or, the suffering of Jesus to other historical figures. On this basis (and I must have missed a beat or something) he asks why it is that Jesus is worshipped, when others have suffered so much more? (Though I'm not aware of any Christians who assert their belief in Christ on sheer tonnage of pain he endured). Grayling expresses his loathing for the practice of religious groups seeking government endorsement. One would feel that the topic has the makings of a political discussion, but alas the thread is lost and we're back to you know what again! In short, I can't see what this book is for. The essays are too short, ill thought out and angry to allow for a proper discussion. It's even a hardback - making the whole thing more expensive, presumably. Most of Grayling's remarks are equivalent to those he made about religion in his book "The Meaning of Things", where at least other chapters had a lower quotient of jejune remarks. It's as though Grayling sees red when religion comes up, and all reason is lost. The final "essay" of Against All Gods promotes Humanism. At least there Grayling is a little calmer.

If you would like to read about atheism, there are far better polemics than this one. Try Daniel Dennet's "Breaking the Spell", Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" or Sam Harris' "The End of Faith", though MUCH MUCH better than those, go for Feuerbach or even Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not A Christian".
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