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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

I Don't Believe in Atheists

I Don't Believe in Atheists - Chris Hedges This book provides the best critic of the so called "new atheism" that I've encountered thus far. The book articulates the position that seeking the transcendent experience is an integral part of the human experience. Suggestions that progress in human knowledge and science make religion unnecessary is labeled as arrogance out of touch with human nature. The author comes from a Christian background; He even has seminary training. However, this book is a defense of all religions, not just Christianity. The author indicates that he seldom attends church services, and when he does he rolls his eyes at the things said which indicate that the members consider themselves to be honorary sinners. So he's certainly not defending any religious organization as an institution. But rather he's defending it from the standpoint of human psychology, sociology, politics and history.

To my tastes, the author was a bit guilty of demonizing the targets of his criticism. He describes Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris as being irrationally extreme to the same degree as the radical religious fundamentalists on the other end of the spectrum. Apparently Hitchens and Harris have made comments that indicate that it may be necessary to make a preemptive military strike against radical Islamists to save civilization. (I don't think Dawkins has said anything like that.) Comments such as those don't deserve support. But I'm inclined to feel more accepting of atheist with a humanist inclination than I am of conservative religionists who seem to hate everything human. By painting his opponents in the worst possible light the author makes discrediting them easier. Ironically, that's the same tactic that Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris use against religion.