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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some New Books I'm Reading

One advantage of attending a religious university is that you can keep up to date pretty well on religious material and information. Since I'm curious about what the other side has to say about these matters, I recently bought two books from my school's book store that attempt to address atheist arguments. The two books are The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism, and Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God. I've not finished either book yet, but I have a few things to say about them.

In regards to The Godless Delusion, I am a little over half-way done with it, and I can confidently say that it is one of the absolute worst books I have ever read on the subject of religion and atheism. The authors of the book possess a profound ignorance of the issues regarding the debate over God's existence. The first 50 or so pages are devoted to essentially insulting atheists, demeaning them as godless twits who understand nothing. The book is filled with insults, bad arguments, quote-mining, fallacy-rich assertions, and unsupported claims. These are, of course, all hallmarks of bad scholarship, and it's puzzling to me how anyone can possibly take this book seriously. I debated over whether or not I should even include a link to this book's Amazon page, since I'm honestly not sure anyone should read this book for fear that it might poison your mind with bad information. But the way I see it, most atheists should be able to see through the garbage it spews out, and even more logically thinking theists should see through it also. What I expect (and really want) out of a book like this is a rational examination of atheist arguments so that we can all have a rational discussion. But you'll find none of that in this book.
As for Answering the New Atheism, I’m only a couple chapters in, but already I can see that this book thankfully contrasts strongly with the aforementioned book. This book appears well written, contains well-articulated arguments, and attempts to address atheist arguments in a more respectable way. While the authors of The Godless Delusion make it quite clear that they are preaching to the choir with their book, the authors of Answering the New Atheism are clearly trying to talk to atheists as well as theists. It’s a reasonable book that so far seems to make logical arguments against atheism. While I have already found several errors in the arguments presented in the book, I’m grateful that it at least presents its arguments rationally and respectfully, devoid of the snarky tone and loaded assertions found in The Godless Delusion. I plan on writing full reviews of both of these books when I have more time to do so (although others have already done so. See here and here for examples). At the very least, reading these two books provides a good lesson in contrasting good and bad scholarship.

A couple other books I’ve bought recently: I purchased Dr. Kenneth Miller’s book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul. This is without a doubt the best book to give to any of your Christian friends who doubt evolution. I’ve already shown it to some of my Christian friends. ;) It will be interesting reading a Catholic Darwinist's take on the issue. I also bought J.K. Rowling’s newest book A Casual Vacancy. It’s her first book intended for adults, so I’m pretty excited to read it. I haven’t read a good novel in a while, and Rowling is one of my all time favorite authors, so it should be a good read.

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