Within “This Week”, a weekly UK based News magazine, there is a book review by Damon Linker entitled “Where are the honest atheists?” where he suggests we don’t need yet another “atheist” book because we already have four others.
What on earth is he babbling about? Well, A.C Grayling, the UK Philosopher, has a new book out, entitled, “the God Argument“.
In his article Mr Linker does in fact prove that such a book is still needed, because he makes truly daft assertions such as the following …
Grayling is mistaken. The style of atheism rehearsed in these books has reached a dead end. It is one thing to catalogue the manifest faults within this or that religious tradition, which the new atheists have ably done… over and over and over again. It’s quite another to claim, as these authors also invariably do, that godlessness is not only true but also unambiguously good for human beings. It quite obviously is not.
Mr Linker simply does not get it, so clearly the God Argument is indeed the book for him. Sadly, he also does not appear to have actually read it, and has instead opted to write an article from a position of complete ignorance concerning its contents. He appears to base his entire article upon the title alone. Now why am I sure he has not read it, perhaps because it has not actually been published yet and will not be available until the 26th March.
If he had in fact actually read the book, he would then realise that A.C. Grayling is in fact not just deploying fact based criticism of irrational religious beliefs that have exactly zero evidence, but is also making a good case for humanism using reason and evidence. No, I’ve not read the book yet either, but I have read the full title … “The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism“, there is an ever so subtle clue there regarding the content. (I also note that Mr Liniker does not even tell you the book’s full title in his article, he refers to it as “The God Argument”). So if there is indeed confusion regarding the actual content, he could always read the book description on Amazon …
What are the arguments for and against religion and religious belief–all of them–right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and for all will show what is at stake in this debate?
Equally important: what is the alternative to religion as a view of the world and a foundation for morality? Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people–those who wish to live with intellectual integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good–that does not interfere with people’s right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression?
In The Case Against Religion, Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in-depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person.
As for Mr Liniker’s article, he goes on to argue like this …
If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.
Yes of course, to hell with the truth, lets just believe in fairy tales, it is nicer that way because these fairy tales have done so much for us ….er, perhaps not.
The fact that religion offers hope is indeed true, but that neither makes it good nor true. In stark contrast to Mr Liniker’s claim, it is religion that has done immeasurable harm and continues to do so (being gay is evil, Islamic violence and intolerance, etc…).
What is clearly factual is that the least religious nations on the planet today tend to have the highest standard of living, social welfare and “happiness” scales, and also tend to have lower incidences of violent crime, teen pregnancies, and the like. It stark contrast, the most religious are at the other end of that scale … Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Somalia, etc…
In a meaningless universe (which is the way it is as best as we can tell), we are free to craft and grasp our own meaning. We can also strive to be decent and honourable human beings, not because we fear some punishment in an after-life if we don’t, but because we have been naturally selected by evolution, not randomly, to be like that.
As for Mr Liniker’s review of a book he has not actually read and his argument that non-belief is bad, what can one do except simply roll one’s eyes at it. If he wishes to assert that belief is best then perhaps he should think about providing some evidence for that, an article littered with appeals to authority does not cut it.
Personally, I’d rather know about the things that are actually true.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus