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Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam [Paperback]

Michel Onfray , Jeremy Leggatt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2008
This hugely controversial work demonstrates convincingly how the world’s three major monotheistic religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—have attempted to suppress knowledge, science, pleasure, and desire, condemning nonbelievers often to death. Not since Nietzsche has a work so groundbreaking and explosive questioned the role of the world’s three major monotheistic religions. If Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, Onfray insists that not only is God still very much alive but also increasingly controlled by fundamentalists who pose a danger to the nature of human morality.

Documenting the ravages of religious intolerance over the centuries, the author makes a strong case against the three religions for their obsession with purity and their contempt for reason and intelligence, individual freedom, desire, and the human body, as well as their disdain for women, sexuality, and pleasure. In their place, all three demand faith and belief, obedience and submission, extolling the “next life” to the detriment of the here and now. Tightly argued, this is a work that is sure to stir debate on the role of religion in American society—and politics.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Michel Onfray was born in 1959. A prolific author of more than thirty books, he teaches philosophy at the Free University of Caen and lives in Paris, France. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nov. 20 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
*This book was also released under the title "In Defense of Atheism". I'm not sure why the title change. It could be a Europe/North America thing.

The Author is France's leading philosopher and author of over 30 books of philosophy. In 2002 he founded the free University of Caen, where he also teaches.

The coverage of this book is very broad. It includes yet more well-deserved hammer blows to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I especially liked the chapter "The Pauline Contamination" which takes a gritty look at the apostle Paul. I can assure you that you will not regard Paul the same way ever again. Reverence for said character has been nothing but a bad habit.

This book should definitely be on the shelf of anyone looking critically at religious beliefs, or its history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book March 4 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Rational thought that makes one believe in the possibility of a world where religion is not the dominant force in the world. Free thought reigns supreme and religious beliefs about the world are tightly viewed as fantasy.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
142 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michel Onfray dissects precisely, using a magnifying glass... Feb. 21 2007
By Fouad Boussetta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
*This absolutely excellent work is a very precise deconstruction of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, charting the historic origins and evolution of these three closely related monotheisms.

*The original title in French is "Traite d'Atheologie", which accurately describes the contents. Here in Canada, the English translation's title is "In Defense of Atheism", which is unfortunate, the tone of the book being far from defensive (It's rather scathingly critical).

*Onfray is a very popular French philosopher, and I tremendously enjoyed his literary style: it's both flowery and ... meaty.

*The author obviously spent a tremendous amount of time pouring over the so-called "holy" texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (and other books). There are no factual errors in his work to my knowledge.

*Critics complain Onfray ignores the good side of religion. Well, he doesn't: he just dismisses it as relatively insignificant compared to its atrocious side.

*Onfray interestingly observes that even though our western societies are now secular, they are still pretty much stuck with judeo-christian values

(See for example the institution of marriage or the bioethics debates).

*I highly recommend this book, that I just finished reading today in its

original language.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spirited Polemic - Vigorously Argued June 1 2007
By dennis wentraub - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An age of rational inquiry, the Enlightenment, constellated with the genius of Voltaire, Descartes, Kant, et.al. followed by an age of "suspicion" that included Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud - these two great periods gave mankind the philosophical tools to question the authority of and ultimately see the damage perpetrated by the three dominant religions. Onfray's indictment of religion is laced with sarcasm for its banner of "brotherly love". He reviews its complicity in thirty centuries of crimes and injustices. As for the authority of their holy books, they are a hodge-podge of improbabilities, fables and - an this is critical - enough contradictions and inconsistencies to justify virtually any act of violence against the non-believer.

Onfray outlines the similarities of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He then sketches the growth of their influence. In the end Onfay offers readers a choice. On the one hand we have reason, knowledge, freedom, pride, democracy, equality of the sexes, the joy of sex, and a passion for this world. Religion offers us dogma, faith, a distrust of science, submission, theocracy, guilt, misogyny, sexual repression, and an unhealthy focus on an afterlife. Simply stated, Onfray's manifesto starts from a flat rejection of God - and an afterlife that discounts this precious life - as a fiction in the face of what is obvious - extinction.

For all the promise of secularism - its greatest victory is the separation of church and state - we are still in a religious era. Still, Onfray sees signs of turbulence that signal a tectonic shift into a transitional post-religious age. But he chides the post-Christian secularist movement for not being "militant" enough (viz. too accomodating) in its opposition to all religious thinking. Borrowing from Nietzsche, he says, and this is where he loses me - we can choose not to make a choice - in this application, between "Israel" and the goals of an Iranian revolution. His point: all the religions are equally bad. From this side of the Atlantic (Onfray's book has been translated from his native French), it appears that cracks in the Judeo-Christian religious world are coincident with the eruption of militant, political Islamic states. Pragmatism and morality suggest siding with the better of the two.

So is Onfray unfair? Is he inclined to bully his case? Not the point. This is a polemic intended to shake the rafters. The ideas rush with energy and passion (I count one sentence with over ninety words!). Open your mind and you will read this book with rapt attention.
122 of 145 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atheist Manifesto Jan. 9 2007
By NoWireHangers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michel Onfray's "Atheist Manifesto" is the latest of many recent books about religion, atheism and secularism. This book is not a scientific study or an attempt to disprove the religions, but a philosophical polemic against religions (an "Atheological treatise" as the original French title would translate) and a call for a post-Christian secularism.

Onfray is an atheist but he doesn't seem to be attempting to convert anyone to atheism, and indeed, his writing style is not likely to convert believers. Instead, the book is a polemic reflection about the effects of religion and a call to reason, probably aimed mostly at fellow atheists.

An interesting chapter of the book is spent deconstructing the myth of Jesus and how Christianity came to be the world's biggest religion and how some of it's teachings (especially those of Paul) may have come to be.

Another large portion of the book explains why religion has been the monotheistic teachings have caused so much evil. It's all very true but not exactly news.

The real purpose of the book comes in the last few pages, where he returns to something he wrote about in the beginning of the book. Here he says the choice is not between western Judeo-Christian values and Muslim values, but between religion and secularism. According to Onfray, much of the current secular values have their roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and he calls for a post-Christian secularism with post-Christian ethics.

Onfray is obviously a very knowledgeable philosopher and he makes many good points. The book is probably aimed at atheists and philosophers. It's not a book to start with for those new to atheism or those with only a sporadic interest in ahteism or religion, but at the same time, for the already-convinced atheist, such as myself, there's really not much new to be found in this book.
65 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, Graciously Written Jan. 10 2007
By G. C. Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is beautifully, graciously and thoughtfully written. Conceptually clear and brilliant, Monsieur Onfray advocates philosophers, instead of priests, rabbis or mullahs, be our representatives. Who are these, his philosophers? The laughers, the cynics, the radicals, the atheists, the sensualists and voluptuaries, though he rarely names names. I did find three in the course of the book: Nietzche, Gilles Deleuze, and Jeremny Bentham (particularly Bentham's work, "Deontology"). Monsieur Onfray's analysis of Christian, Judaic, and Islamic faiths, all three united under the point of view of "hatred of life" (in conjunction with suppression of sex and advocacy of violence), is quite readable, fair, and clear. Monsieur Onfray makes clear as well that Hilter was a Roman Catholic and the Catholic Church, without question, supported Nazism. Monsieur Onfray's analysis is such that Catholicism appears to be the worst evil suffered in the West thus far. However, in his discussion of the Muslim faith, he reveals how frighteningly violent it is, particularly should it get a good foothold in the West. (Shades of Sam Harris's point of view about Islam in his book "The End of Faith"!) Michael Onfray, in the last pages, speaks of the "final battle" (post-Christian experience) which, he asserts, is "already lost." He wants us to live in a de-Christianized society, but it is as if this idea is really but a dream. Social critic and author Curtis White has an important insight that Monsieur Onfray (and Sam Harris as well) might do well to consider: the Manichean conflict between atheism and religion is less significant to the future of the West than the evils that have been created in the West by state/corporate capitalism, particularly in the United States. This book is well worth the purchase price. I have no regrets. We can dream. It's a treasure.
59 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book ,clear and thought provoking Jan. 29 2007
By j figueroa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The 2 last reviewers said it all. I would like to add that the book presents a very difficult topic and is very easy to read due to the clear balanced way Mr Onfray exposes his point of view. Loved this book. A must read as we go into this complex century.You don't have to be an atheist to like this book,you have to have an open mind.
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