Despite all the debates I’ve seen and been a part of, it still amazes me when Christians trot out the particularly bad piece of logic that says atheists hate them (or, more often, God). What doesn’t surprise me is that Ricky Gervais has said something intelligent:
I was considering reading PZ Myers’ new book “The Happy Atheist” so I could do a brief review of it here. However, I have decided against it after reading the user reviews on Amazon. Here are a few random excerpts:
“The Happy Atheist” is just a collection of blog posts cleaned up and converted into a book format, arranged in an order so they make sense. Unfortunately this leads to a lack of substance on some of the chapters, as it doesn’t appear anything new was added. In some cases this is a serious problem, because a book is not a blog – and it’s not unreasonable to expect a book to cover issues in more depth than a two page blog post would. There are some chapters just screaming out to be expanded on so that more info could be presented, more sources cited, more angles covered, more caveats added, etc. Reading along you can pretty much guess where the links to other blog posts or news stories would have gone in the text – but this is a book, so I can’t click them, and all that extra info is lost.
Hoping this would be entertaining, as it didn’t appear more than a series of essays, I figured it wouldn’t be a scholarly book or researched tome. Instead, it was a collection of essays that I realize much have been part of his blog. The Introduction, About the Author and next couple of chapters really had me interested. By the 7th, I was pretty bored.
I found myself skipping over whole passages, as they were just repeating themselves. It was chapter after chapter of stories outlining arguments and disagreements between him and different people and organizations. It just didn’t keep my interest.
If you read his blog,this books adds nothing. It breaks no new ground, offers no new perspective and has no insight. It is a very insular work, reflecting the experiences and thoughts of someone trying to “jump in late” with an atheist book – but not really having any justification or reason to do so. You get the sense he is like a “little kid” on the atheist schoolyard. His heart is usually in the right place but he’s immature (which you can also see on this blog sometimes). He’s just out of place on the basketball court where the older kids like Harris, Dennett, Hitchens and Dawkins play.
Dr Myers is intelligent, and some of writing here is worth being read – but there is no coherent whole or central idea. Nothing here justifies a book.
Almost word for word, sometimes with a different intro or ending, and perhaps a few other very small changes, here are the chapters, er blog posts, that I found online with the same titles:
4) The Great Desecration
11) The Top Ten Reasons Religion is Like Pornography
13) Happy Easter! is from an original post titled “Sunday Sacrilege: The Silliest Story Ever Told.”
17) Imagine No Heaven
18) Daughters of Eve
19) Prometheus’s Sin
20) So Alone
21) One Nation Free of Gods
22) An Embryo is Not a Person
23) The Courtier’s Reply
28) We’re Happier out of a Straightjacket Than in One
31) The Active Hand
32) The Proper Reverence Due Those Who Have Gone Before
34) We Stand Awed at the Heights Our People Have Achieved.
If someone is putting out a series of blog posts as a published book for a price, readers would want to know so they can make an informed choice before laying down the required money to read it. A publisher would most definitely want to know. They surely paid him a huge advance, probably in the tens of thousands of dollars. Did they know?
So, in short, it appears that I have basically already read the book by virtue of having read most of these blog posts. It looks like PZ was just looking to get some of his more popular or contentious ideas into the public sphere as a way to make an easy buck. I see no reason to purchase this book.
In other news, Richard Dawkins has a new book coming out in a few weeks. I will be devoting a bit of money towards that purchase.
This cartoon comes from the hurter-of-women known as PZ Myers:
Quick back story: Someone emailed PZ and told him a big name in the atheist community sexually assaulted her. Without evidence, he named that guy. Then a bunch of other people named everyone under the Sun. Forget that these people either never went to the police or, for those that did, their reports were looked into and closed with no charges whatsoever. No, that isn’t important. What’s important is that someone has made a significant claim and that evidence is only important in philosophical and scientific claims. When it comes to Internet feminism, it’s irrelevant.
The reason the above cartoon is just so fucking stupid is that it ignores why people get these type of responses: Blogs are not the place to make criminal complaints. A person can’t expect to be taken seriously on sexual harassment when the claim is going through such a hugely wrong channel – a channel so huge that it is only reasonable to conclude that at least part of the goal is public shame of the accused, whether the claim is true or not.
I’m not particularly interested in the PZ Myers-style feminist attempt to destroy the fledgling atheist community we have, so I don’t think I’ll be addressing this issue again. I do, however, hope that the people who have made these accusations without first going through the proper channels are sued into oblivion for defamation.
As I’ve noted many times, faith is an effectively random way of believing. That is, faith is precisely belief without evidence, so it offers absolutely no logical path towards one idea or another. This is an obvious problem in the world; there are far more ways to get things wrong than to get them right, so we should expect theists and other random-belief persons to cause a lot of havoc and offense on a daily basis. The religious, dogmatic United Arab Emirates offers one of the most egregious examples as of late:
A Norwegian woman who was sentenced to prison in Dubai after reporting that she was raped has been given a pardon and will be heading home soon, she said Monday.
Speaking to reporters in Dubai, Marte Deborah Dalelv seemed relieved and happy as she confirmed the news — if still slightly bewildered by the swift turn of events.
“They told me that I would be pardoned and that they were going to give me my passport back, so I got it immediately,” she said.
Asked what happens next, Dalelv paused a moment before replying: “I get to go home.”
She added, “We want to make it as soon as possible.”…
Dalelv, a Qatar-based interior designer, was on a work trip to Dubai when she reported to police that she had been raped by a colleague at the hotel where she was staying.
She was herself then detained and charged with having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol. A court last week sentenced her to 16 months in prison, prompting outrage in Norway.
Dalelv’s lawyer, Mahmoud Azab Abu Gareda, said the sheikh’s pardon is “effectively a royal decree,” which wipes the slate clean, leaving no record of her conviction.
This means the alleged perpetrator, who was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage, also walks free, he said.
Notice the stark difference in the involved nations. The United Arab Emirates is a majority Muslim nation where Islam is the official state religion. Norway, on the other hand, has a high cultural Christian population, but relatively little religious participation. According to Wiki, only 32% of Norwegians said they believe in a personal god. Moreover, an overwhelming majority, 73%, are not theists: Of the total population, 44% are effectively deists, whereas 29% are atheists.
Of course, it isn’t that atheism or deism have led the charge in Norway’s basic moral authority in this situation. They couldn’t. They’re both 100% descriptive positions. No, it’s that the people of Norway have opted for a secular guidance in their moral and ethical thinking. This is just the opposite of faith, so it isn’t surprising when we see it working so well in so many instances.