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Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness Hardcover – Apr 1 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Oberon Books (April 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840027282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840027280
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 19.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #418,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There have been quite a few lengthy tomes in favour of atheism recently. This one has all the key arguments in a fraction of the space. At only 64 pages, in a well-argued but accessible style, this is a much better door-opener to this debate than investing time in any of the longer ones.
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9db5c690) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9965d36c) out of 5 stars Grayling vs Baggini Aug. 6 2008
By Niklas Anderberg - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I know it's not customary but since these are two very short books on the same subject, I take the liberty of reviewing them together. Written by two nonbelievers, it's striking how differently they perceive matters. It starts off with definitions. In `Atheism, A Short Introduction', Julian Baggini says it's easy to define what `atheism' means: it's the belief that there is no God. Here he straight away brings a hornet's nest about his ears. As some reviewers of his book have pointed out, there is a difference between `not to believe' and `to believe that not'. By defining it as a belief, he gives credence to the often-heard remark that atheism is a religion too. Many atheists stress that the actual meaning of the word is `absence of belief in God'. This is called `negative atheism' in contrast to `positive' atheism. When Baggini talks of positive atheism, he rather means that it's something generally worthwhile. I'm sure Baggini is aware of this but I think the distinction is crucial, even in an introduction.
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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9965d774) out of 5 stars Short read on Atheism Sept. 7 2012
By GeooeG - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is composed of several short essays on topics related to atheism. The content/opinions have been offered up in other books, articles and lectures. The topics include discussions on "Why do we give respect to religions?", "Does the word fundamentalist apply to Atheism?", etc.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9965d57c) out of 5 stars Gentle polemics July 10 2014
By Sharon Robideaux - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Graying writes so beautifully that it seems wrong to call his essays "polemics." My only complaint is that the book is too short.
15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9965d7b0) out of 5 stars God loses Feb. 1 2009
By Skeptical Scientist - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This short volume is a powerful antidote to religious propaganda. All who would like a better world should read.
HASH(0x9965dba0) out of 5 stars Five Stars May 5 2015
By Frank Javier Velazquez - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing center piece book. Will always start a debate.
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