It is a beautiful day in Texas today, so I am going to sit outside for a bit and keep reading The Believing Brain.
Books that I have recently finished include:
God, No! Signs You Might Already Be An Atheist – Penn Jillette
This was an alright book; at least if you like Penn Jillette. Fortunately, I do. But it is not really a book about atheism.
In short, Penn tells stories from his life that occasionally involve atheism. The life he has led and been able to lead is quite different from most people’s experiences. Not to demean the man’s experiences.
The stories are often quite amusing or interesting. One that I especially enjoyed was that of a former orthodox Jew who became an atheist. Jillette and his friends got this his first bacon cheeseburger. Hilarious stuff, along with some maudlin material, but fairly harmless.
Drunk With Blood: God’s Killings In The Bible – Steve Wells
This one is interesting but also very tongue-in-cheek. If you have never read the Bible cover-to-cover (honestly, I have not yet), then reading this will likely be quite the eye-opening experience. Steve Wells operates the excellent resource site Skeptics Annotated Bible (plus the Koran and Book Of Mormon).
There are plenty of famous slaughters that G_d allegedly perpetrates (Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gommorah…himself on the cross). Some of the more interesting ones are less well-known.
- G_d killed 42 kids (with the help of some “Mama Grizzlies”) for making fun of Elijah’s bald head (2 Kings 2:23-24)
- G_d lets Satan torture Job over a bet (entire book of Job – great Darkmatter2525 video about this)
- Yay cannibalism! (Isaiah 9:19-20)
The real tongue-in-cheek part of this book is the arbitrary accounting Wells applies to the mass murders when there isn’t a precise number specified in the Bible. He usually applies values like 1000 to phrases like “a great slaughter.” Of course these numbers are not meant to be taken seriously; but surely we need to consider all the deaths committed by G_d or ordered by G_d. After all, this is the most perfect book ever written…
The Heathen’s Guide To World Religions – William Hopper
Not unlike Drunk With Blood, this was a really fun read. It is a very witty and sarcastic examination of the world’s key religions.
How sarcastic does it get? Jesus becomes either “Josh” or “JC.” Even better is this gem in the opening chapter on Islam:
Individual Muslims are usually ok. But there’s a Borg collective thing that happens in Mosques that you should be aware of. The same guy that shrugs about your questioning his faith in a coffee shop will absolutely lose it on you if you say the exact same thing when other Muslims are around.
The book also covers Hinduism, Buddhism and Vedism. My only minor gripe with it is that Mormonism and some of the major Christian sects (Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) are all lumped under one big section.
I loved Barker’s book Godless. This one wasn’t quite what I expected it to be but it was still a worthwhile and certainly educational read.
Barker begins by excoriating Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life as a promotion of slavery. Warren’s own summary of atheism pretty much shows that:
Without G_d, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.
It doesn’t take much to see the logical problems there. Barker spends the rest of the book briefly summarizing the lives of well-known and obscure non-believers and atheists across the many centuries and over many fields of human endeavours. This book clearly drives home the point that if all of these people’s lives had “no significance or hope” then there simply is no significance or hope to be had in this universe.
Life drives purpose. Not the other way around.
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory And Practice – Christopher Hitchens
It didn’t dawn on me until I watched Hitchens gut and flay the world opinion of Mother Teresa, just how prevalent the worship of this woman is. Even today, years after her death, even non-Catholics think she deserves the fast-track to sainthood that the popes have her on. It’s staggering to realize some of the truly awful stuff that she said and did in her lifetime.
What really sickens me is the hypocrisy of The Missionaries Of Charity during her sickness and eventual death. While they neglect the doomed and piteous souls inhabiting the House Of The Dying, their wanna-be saint received some of the very best treatments the modern world could provide.
This book is short and eye-opening. Well worth reading.