Thursday, 23 September 2010

Minor Update and Mini-Book Reviews

As soon as I get the time I intend to do a massive news update (going back to August) as I have slipped way behind. I also want to rant about Stygimoloch, but all in due time. When I have internet installed at my house, hopefully next week, things will change and blogging will become regular again. Right now I feel like I need to hit the ground running in order to get back into it, so time really is needed.

In the mean time I am registered on my course again, due to start lectures next week. I'm trying to get a lot of reading done too, so as a teaser I thought I would type up a couple of mini book reviews (as in short reviews, not reviews of miniature books). Every now and again I like to read books specifically about atheism to shake things up a bit and potentially breathe fresh air into my mind. So here are some very brief reviews of two atheist books. The first will be The GOD Delusion as it is perhaps the most well known (though I did read it a couple of years ago). The second will be The GOD Part of the Brain which I am currently reading (so this review is premature, but a full one will come when I finish it).


The GOD Delusion - Richard Dawkins


If I were to recommend just one science writer it very well might be Richard Dawkins. His eloquence, erudition, clarity and passion often leap off the page, bringing deeper appreciation of the subject at hand. Not so with The GOD Delusion. His eloquence remains, but his passion gives way to a shrill whine and his logic often seems to skip a few beats. In previous books Dawkins showed that he is a master of taking your hand, guiding you step by step into the unknown, illuminating the darkness as you go; in this offering he stands behind you, constantly prodding, whispering that you can trust him, honest! It's not all bad though; his critiques of fundamentalist views are always worth reading and he certainly has something to add to the debate. If this book changes anyone's views enormously they would likely be either fundamentalists in for a shock or people already on a path to atheism; for all others it might be rather frustrating.

The GOD Part of the Brain - Matthew Alper


Alper's book is one of those which alters dependent on your presuppositions and expectations. If you expect a potential paradigm shift (as a theist) then you may be disappointed. If you simply expect an atheistic interpretation of why religion and spirituality are so prevalent then you may be onto a winner. A scientifically informed theist would likely find some of the logic to be inconsistent, the arguments uninformed, and the conclusions naive; however, if they read it as a book presenting an attempt at internal consistency of a non-theistic world-view then the credibility of the content increases. It has value for its anthropological and psychological insights, and very well might rock the boat for a few theists, but reads best as a case of preaching to the choir, so to speak. Approach this book as a curious anthropologist and the accessible writing style will make this a page turner.





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