Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness Hardcover – Apr 1 2008
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About the Author
A C Grayling is a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. The author of numerous, a regular contributor to the press and a frequent broadcaster, he is the co-author with Mick Gordon of the play On Religion, also published by Oberon Books.
Top Customer Reviews
If you are want to argue in favour of one or more gods, this book will show you the key thinking you need to overcome, if you are against all gods, this will give you arguments short enough to open the discussion and if you are sitting on the fence, this will give you one side in a nutshell without skipping the key points.
It also sets out Grayling's alternative view, humanism, in case you are afraid that the consequences of abandoning religion are loss of purpose in life.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Grayling thinks that nonbelievers shouldn't call themselves atheists at all, since the term invites debate on the turf of the believers. He prefers the term `naturalists'. As opposed to `super-naturalists'. Smart move, I suppose. But I know quite a few atheists who are rather proud to come out and call themselves so.
Neither Grayling nor Baggini, by the way, mentions the (not so) clever invention of the term `Brights' (Dennet et al.). Whatever happened to THEM? I mean, I'm sure they exist and hold meetings and so on but it doesn't seem to have been such a succesful `meme'.
Where Baggini talks about militant and fundamentalist atheism, Grayling convinces us there cannot be such a thing. Would a non-fundamentalist atheist `be someone who believed only somewhat that there are no supernatural entities in the universe...'? Since atheists don't adhere to fixed and eternal Truths, they are at all times prepared to revise their views in the light of new evidence. The only thing `fundamental' about them is that they are `fundamentally sensible'.
Grayling also argues that religion, despite its apparent upsurge, is in fact on the decline. In this he is in accordance with Richard Dawkins. In the last essay he presents an alternative: humanism. But Baggini wants to avoid this nowadays so controversial term (see for example John Gray). To him it's too ambiguous and confusing. Some humanists are anthropocentric; others are Christians. Let's call ourselves positive atheists. But then there is the confusion between being positive and to positively deny the existence of God.
But let's not be too harsh. If you want to dig deeper you can always consult The Cambridge Companion to Atheism or The (New) Encyclopedia of Unbelief. As a little book (only 64 pages) to carry with you, as I did to the dentist, Against all Gods is both thought-provoking and fun to read. I'm sure it's at least on par with the magazine that made Tommy Cooper (RIP) exclaim: Terrible with the Titanic!
I give three stars to Baggini because I think his introduction is OK and four to Grayling because he's the better writer.
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