- Hardcover: 269 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Pub Plc USA; New edition (26 March 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1620401908
- ISBN-13: 978-1620401903
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.5 x 24.4 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 544 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 341,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism Hardcover – 26 Mar 2013
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"Debunks the teleological, ontological and cosmological arguments employed throughout Christendom for the literal existence of God...Those looking for a succinct analysis of these centuries old debates will appreciate Grayling's insights." --The Washington Post, "On Faith"
"London-based academic and philosopher Grayling (To Set Prometheus Free, 2010, etc.) has the sharp analytical mind of fellow naysayer Richard Dawkins, though he is gentler about saying no to God or god or gods...readers looking for fire-and-brimstone contrarianism will want to turn to Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens instead. Mild though the rebuke is, a readable and persuasvie argument - if, of course, an exercise in preaching to the choir." --Kirkus Reviews
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"The God Argument" is a very respectful, thought-provoking and accessible book that addresses the case against religion while making the compelling case for a superior ethical way of living, humanism. Accomplished author and English philosopher, A.C. Grayling, provides the reader with an excellent modern reference to the most important philosophical questions of ethics and morality. This stimulating 288-page book is broken into two parts: Part I - Against Religion, and Part II - For Humanism.
1. Elegant dignified prose. The author is very respectful and treats this fascinating topic with utmost respect and care.
2. A philosophical focus on the most interesting topic, religion.
3. The author has a great command of the topic and does a masterful job of keeping it an accessible level without compromising the intellectual core of the topic.
4. The reality of contesting religion. "Contesting religion is like engaging in a boxing match with jelly: it is a shifting, unclear, amorphous target, which every blow displaces to a new shape".
5. You never feel lost in this book. The author does a great job of staying focused on the task in hand, "In my view, the argument against religion is an argument for the liberation of the human mind, and the possibility of at last formulating an ethical outlook that humankind can share, thus providing a basis for a much more integrated and peaceful world."
6. Does a good job of defining terms smoothly within the context of the narrative.
7. Thought-provoking ideas and concepts that challenge the trend, "This fact about the Chinese, the most numerous people on Earth and a large fraction of the Earth's human population, gives the lie to the theory that belief in a god is hard-wired in the human brain."
8. The inconsistencies of religious beliefs, "The evidence of the world is in fact far more consistent with the existence of an evil deity than a good deity, or at least a deity capable of evil and more than occasionally intent on causing it; but this is not a line that many religious apologists take."
9. The roots of religion, "Religion is exactly the same kind of thing as astrology: it originates in the pre-scientific, rudimentary metaphysics of our ancestors."
10. How science claims differ from religious ones. "Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so . . ."
11. Debunking the three most popular arguments for "God": argument from design (teleological), ontological argument, and the cosmological argument. Strong arguments against the theistic claims.
12. The dismantling of Pascal's wager and the poor moral argument for the existence of a deity.
13. Debunking the notion for a designer, "In short, the explanatory value of the idea of a designer or deity to `explain' in its turn the universe and the complexity of life in it is null."
14. The danger of the Creationist lobby. "No scientists would wish students not to think critically about anything."
15. The three separate debates between religion and its critics: theism-atheism debate, secularism debate, and a debate about the source and content of our moralities. Great stuff here. I enjoyed the defining of militancy.
16. Persuasive discussion on the merits of humanism. "In essence, humanism is the ethical outlook that says each individual is responsible for choosing his or her values and goals and working towards the latter in the light of the former, and is equally responsible for living considerately towards others, with a special view to establishing good relationships at the heart of life, because all good lives are premised on such."
17. A brief historical look at secular humanism. Defining the good life.
18. Differing between ethics and morality. "Morality is about what is permissible and forbidden in particular realms of behaviour; ethics is about one's character."
19. Interesting section on abortions and assisted suicide (euthanasia). "In short, euthanasia - which we should understand as `a good dying' - should be available to all of us, and not least to the ill and old if they desire it (not if someone else desires it for them)."
20. Comparing laws involving blasphemy. "Compare this to now-repealed nineteenth-century laws in certain states of the United States, where the penalty for anyone who `wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, His creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures' was anything up to a year in jail and a fine not exceeding $300."
21. One of my favorite points in the book, "Morality has to be grounded and justified independently of claims about the existence of gods or other supernatural agencies and what they are said to demand of their creatures."
1. My biggest criticism of the book is the lack of citations; there was a total of forty to be exact. A well-written and provocative book like this warranted more.
2. My instinct tells me the book was rushed based on a couple of misspells that I caught (career, installment) and the aforementioned lack of citations. Not a major issue just not to the standards one expects from a book of Grayling's caliber.
3. This book is intended for the masses and I must say I am grateful for the approach but for the more demanding reader and scholarly philosophers it may lack depth.
4. No mention of the now popular yet debunked Kalam version of the Cosmological argument.
5. Didn't go after the concept of the soul, spirit, or some of the other popular metaphysical claims.
6. No formal bibliography.
In summary, this is a solid and enjoyable book to read. I can see myself going back to this book as reference. The author makes very solid, civil arguments against the claims of religion while convincingly pushing forward a more favorable ethical manner of living. Putting aside, the lack of citations and lack of depth in some areas, this is a highly recommended book!
Further suggestions: "Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story" by Jim Holt, "Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity" and "The End of Christianity" by John Loftus, "Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism" by Richard Carrier, "Natural Atheism" and "Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker" by Dr. David Eller, "Man Made God: A Collection of Essays" by Barbara G. Walker, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris, "The World Is Not as We Think It Is" by Dennis Littrell, "Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization" by Stephen Cave, , "God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist" by Victor J. Stenger, "Godless" by Dan Barker, "Christian No More" by Jeffrey Mark, and "The Invention of God" by Bill Lauritzen.
The God Argument by A.C. Grayling is an impressive work. The book is split into two simple parts: against religion and for humanism. The first part is an unsurprising step by step deconstruction of religion. Several well-thought out arguments are presented including: for every good thing done in the name of religion there is a ghastly, horrific act done in the name of religion, Intelligent Design has no place in science, and the lack of knowledge does not equate to supernatural or theistic evidence. All of these points are well argued and pretty accurate even if I find his conclusion lacking: “The cumulative case against religion shows it to be a hangover from the infancy of modern humanity, persistent and enduring because of the best interests of religious organisations, proselytization of children, complicity of temporal powers requiring the social and moral policing that religion offers.”
The second part of the book is the construction of humanism. “Why cannot we have art and music, personal consolation and inspiration, a positive and humane outlook on life?” This part of the book left me wanting more. I am sure a humanist would point out that my Christian worldview clouds my ability to find subjective goodness in our society, and I think that is a fair point.
However, I was not satisfied by the arguments for humanism. I am not saying I disagree with the arguments, I simply was left unconvinced.
I agree that the world’s greatest atrocities have been done in the name of religion, but if religion is simply a man-made fabrication, then ultimately the greatest atrocities have been done by humans and humans alone. They simply just used religion as their excuse. I am not convinced that a world without religion would lead to a kinder world, just a world with different excuses.
On the same level, there is a correlation between decreased religious involvement and decreased violence over the past few centuries, but as every economist would say: correlation does not imply causation.
A very solid read, and definitely worth it.
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