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Lots of excellent reviews but I fear we are all getting far too caught up in the details of this debate. JUST REMEMBER THIS -The Bible was written by people who thought the world was flat!The world has moved on, people have moved on.The bible was written over 2000 years ago. Why do we give this story any more creedance than any other document written 2000 years ago?The writings of the great Philosophers of that era have stood the test of time because human nature hasn't changed.However, everything else has changed. There have been such tremendous advances in the Sciences and Technology that we don't have too guess any more. We have facts and rational explanations now.It is only human nature to deny the brutal facts and seek comfort in religion. You have few options if you really wish to live a happy life. The truth that there really is nothing after death is just too painfull to contemplate. The more you really think about it the closer you get to insanity.Religion is simply a means of 'mental' self preservation which has been hijacked by religious leaders in order to gain power and wealth. "Religion" - I wish I had invented it!
The target is religion and its icons. No one is safe, not even Mother T., Ghandi or M. L. King. I'd always thought Buddhists pretty harmless but they get a slating too. I think Hitchens desire to depict religion as virtually always malevolent (he does concede the odd acts of goodness and courage)leaves me wondering if he loses some of the objectivity he refers to and admires in Socrates. He seems over keen to point the finger in the direction of religion and makes some connections that are slightly tenuous. Having said that I liked this book a lot and some of the anecdotes were very amusing. I agree with him on most points and think religion is rather stupid and dangerous. However, it is also ubiquitous and I have the feeling that it is part of our nature to be bad whether we do it in the name of religion or ideology. Removing religion will simply leave the door open to some new form of tyranny and I don't think he really addresses this issue convincingly enough.
You can't have failed to notice that militant atheism is currently a fashionable publishing phenomenon. I purchased the Hitchens book on Amazon's recommendation following my purchase of Stenger's God the Failed Hypothesis and Dawkins's God Delusion. I can't help feeling that Hitchens'book might have been more accurately titled Religion Is Not Great since it's the pernicious influence of religion that gets the bashing rather than God himself (although one never doubts Hitchens' atheist credentials.} It's Stenger who focusses specifically on God in attemting to demonstrate quite peruasively that science shows the existence of God is an unnecesssary hypothsis to explain the existence of things but I must confess that midway through his book when he touched on the more abstruse aspects of physics he totally lost me. No such trouble with Hitchens though who writes with clarity and vigour and doesn't mince his words. Dawkin's polemic is rather more wide-ranging with an undestandable bias towards Darwinism..All three books are stimulating and persuasive and rather mischievously I recommended them a few days ago to the Jehovah's Witnesses who knocked on my door. They recoiled in horror at the very notion. I wryly observed that they expected me to read their stuff (and have done so) but they wouldn't read mine. Closed minds as Hitchens frequently makes clear are behind much of the religious mischief that has bedevilled mankind.Now, having read these three atheist tracts and not inclined to disagree with any of them I am still left with one question which none of them tackles: Why does anything exist rather than not exist ? "A mystery" they might answer and nothing to do with God as man has conceived him. But why am I here and why are you here? Anyone know of an atheist book with an answer?
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