The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism



[Epub] ❦ The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism ➜ A.C. Grayling – E17streets4all.co.uk What are the arguments for and against religion and religious belief all of them right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny Ca What Argument: The Case against PDF \ are the Argument: The eBook ☆ arguments for and against religion and religious belief all of them right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and The God Kindle - for all will show what is at stake in this debate Equally important what is the alternative to religion as a view of the world and a foundation for morality Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people those who wish to live with intellectual God Argument: The Kindle Ø integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good that does not interfere with people s right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression In The Case Against Religion, Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person.The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism

Anthony Argument: The Case against PDF \ Clifford A Argument: The eBook ☆ C Grayling is a British philosopher In he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London Until June , he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where he taught from The God Kindle - He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne s College, OxfordHe is a director and contributor at Prospect Magazine, as well as a Vice President of the British Humanist Association His main academic interests lie in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophical logic He has described himself as a man God Argument: The Kindle Ø of the left and is associated in Britain with the new atheism movement, and is sometimes described as the Fifth Horseman of New Atheism He appears in the British media discussing philosophy.

The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for
    If you re looking for a CBR and CBZ reader the world and a foundation for morality Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people those who wish to live with intellectual God Argument: The Kindle Ø integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good that does not interfere with people s right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression In The Case Against Religion, Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person."/>
  • Paperback
  • 269 pages
  • The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism
  • A.C. Grayling
  • 22 September 2019
  • 1408837412

10 thoughts on “The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism

  1. says:

    This book, which, I might as well say now, I had come to loathe before I reached page 40, is divided into two parts the self explanatory titles are Against Religion and For Humanism Although they are presented in that order, it will be easier to start with the second part and then go backwards So, let s first look at Professor Grayling s arguments for humanism.At one level, I immediately admit, there is not a thing I can say against him Grayling invokes the liberal European tradition of This book, which, I might as well say now, I had come to loathe before I reached page 40, is divided into two parts the self explanatory titles are Against Religion and For Humanism Although they are presented in that order, it will be easier to start with the second part and then go backwards So, let s first look at Professor Grayling s arguments for humanism.At one level, I immediately admit, there is not a thing I can say against him Grayling invokes the liberal European tradition of philosophical debate that goes back at least as far as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and which has been transmitted to our times by such luminaries as Epicurus, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, Spinoza, Voltaire, Gibbon, Hume, Diderot, Marx, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Huxley, Nietzsche, Dewey, Russell, Einstein, Camus and Sartre Unless you belong to a very rigid fundamentalist sect, you re probably going to think that at least some of these people are good guys You may even be prepared to forgive Grayling for bathetically appending Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Victor Stenger to the end of his list After all, aren t most of us in favor of beauty, freedom of speech, intellectual boldness and the right to come to our own conclusions unhampered by stifling dogma Hands up everyone who s in favor of ugly, narrow minded, rigid repressiveness I am unsurprised to see few hands.The problem is that if your basic message is read widely and without prejudice from the great writers of the Platonic tradition, think for yourself and have no fear , the book risks being so short that with a little ingenuity it can probably be made to fit on a T shirt Grayling has to fill up the other 249 pages with something, and this is where things start to go wrong The For Humanism half consists of a series of increasingly tedious chapters where Grayling explains his opinions on a range of topics where ethics are involved I m not saying he s necessarily wrong on any of these though I was startled by his suggestion that prostitutes should be made available on the British National Health Service , but he s cut the ground out from under his feet before he s even started If we re supposed to be fearless, undogmatic free thinkers, there s no reason why we should believe anything he says we should be reading a wide range of sources and drawing our own conclusions Of course, if he were a brilliant and original writer himself, we might come across some unexpected insights that changed our minds about things But he s no Bertrand Russell His prose is dull and clunky, and most of the time he recycles the usual left wing staples abortion and euthanasia are good, selling arms is bad, people should be allowed to express their sexuality freely, faith schools are immoral If you re already signed up to these ideas you ll be yawning, and if you hate them then then there s no chance his rhetoric will sway you At least the NHS prostitutes were a novel idea, but there weren t a great many .And so back to the first half of the book, where Grayling tells us what s wrong with religion in a way that makes Richard Dawkins look like a paragon of tact and understanding Virtually frothing at the mouth, he explains that monotheistic religions Buddhism and Confucianism get a free pass because they are philosophies are delusions comparable with belief in fairies Fairies are mentioned remarkably often Christianity is an obscure millenial cult that somehow managed to survivethe normal few decades, and which offers no moral guidance to its pathetic, sheep like devotees, all of whom believe in this transparent lie only because they were brainwashed by their parents when too small to resist Religious art is depressing, kitschy nonsense I must say that I was flabbergasted Perhaps I am missing his point, but this did seem to me a rather simplistic way of summing up, just to take the first few things that come into my head, the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes, the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the Good Samaritan, Dante s Divine Comedy, Leonardo s Last Supper, the Pi ta, most Victorian novels, L immoraliste, Ash Wednesday, Kristin Lavransdatter, J sus de Montr al and The Tree of Life Most curiously, he seemed to be directly flouting his own rules How exactly does this fit together with a program of understanding and tolerance, where respect for other people and recognition of diversity is paramount The book is mostly about moral philosophy Grayling is apparently an expert on the subject , so I feel almost pedantic in mentioning a few egregious factual errors in other areas It is mistaken to say that the sentence I can trisect a Euclidean angle using only rule and compass is meaningless and hence strictly speaking impossible to think Grayling is confusing non well formedness and falsity, and the common sense point of view that the sentence is meaningful and can be thought is entirely correct His account of the fine tuning problem, which he discusses in connection with the Argument from Design, also betrays a complete lack of understanding Indeed, if my 64 great great great great grandparents had not lived exactly where they did, and done exactly the things they did, I would not exist but the fine tuning paradox is not that I exist, or even that the human race exists, but rather that any observers exist at all Grayling either doesn t get this or is willfully obfuscating the issues to score a cheap point.What a dreadful, dishonest, badly written, stupid book If you re a creationist, rush out and buy a copy right now It ll confirm everything you ve ever said about those dumb liberals

  2. says:

    What one star Am I a true believer, and hence biased But not at all, on the contrary, my interests are exactly like Grayling s, that is to say, the philosophical arguments.But if most books have some merits, I shall save the reader s time and not look to hard for these After all, this is a book that comes surrounded by a cloud of self congratulatory flim flam.The God Argument, by A C GraylingAnthony Grayling s promise to us is to thoroughly and calmly to examine all the arguments offered What one star Am I a true believer, and hence biased But not at all, on the contrary, my interests are exactly like Grayling s, that is to say, the philosophical arguments.But if most books have some merits, I shall save the reader s time and not look to hard for these After all, this is a book that comes surrounded by a cloud of self congratulatory flim flam.The God Argument, by A C GraylingAnthony Grayling s promise to us is to thoroughly and calmly to examine all the arguments offered in support of religious belief and to do so not acerbically but calmly Strange then that it briskly starts by thanking various fellows in the cause , such as guess who Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and cheeky Peter Cave The word cause is revealing of the mindset, even if the next line strikes an unconvincing note of inclusivity, offering, like a poorly structured sermon, that every generation must travel its own road, but with the hope of arriving at a destination further along than its predecessors Can different roads pass by exactly the same places Perhaps a wiser thought and a better metaphor would have been Every publisher must produce its own book explaining the same points about religion, but hope that each sellsthan its predecessors.This book however is supposed to be different from the others a philosophical examination of the arguments That is perhaps why it is called The God Argument Or perhaps the publisher came up with the name after Grayling submitted it Although it is full of arguments in one sense what philosophers call ad hominem ones directed at religious apologists Thomas Aquinas, Leibniz and no doubt the local vicar would all fit into this group but not it seems, curiously, Buddhists or followers of Confucius, as these are philosophies Which means that they are alright.Religion, as presented here, has negligible philosophical content Rather it consists of hanging homosexuals beheading or stoning to death adulterous women subordinating women and children in Bible Belt America Throughout history, the religion inspired suppression of women has robbed humanity of al least half of its potential creativity and genius We re only up to page two, by the way, of this exemplification of calm rationality , as a review for the Church Times promises on the back cover But it doesn t seem very philosophical to me Indeed, although Professor Grayling accuses the supporters of religion of making lots of silly, elementary errors of logic, doesn t he himself commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent If religion is an evil influence on people, then people s minds will be addled and lots of bad things will result First premise People s minds have been addled and lots of bad things have resulted Second premise Religion is an evil influence on people Wonky conclusion The problem with this reasoning is that there could be another explanation for the bad things like maybe inbred sexism, or aggressive pursuit of economic self interest But that, I suppose is sociology Here we only do logic Mind you, some claims do look rather sociological, like Whereas the consolations of religion are mainly personal, the burdens are social and political as well as personal Likely Grayling has no time for the Protestant Work Ethic, that made being rich virtuous, and justified the entire capitalist system, generally seen as an important factor in social development, or perhaps he would rather we returned to a kind of philosophical Year Zero, before religion What would that be like Ah, read Part the Second of the book Briefly put, critical examination of religion s claims puts it in the same class as astrology and magic Like these systems of thought, religion dates from mankind s less educated and knowledgeable early history and like them it has been superseded by advances in our understanding of the world and ourselves Everywhere that science and education have advanced, so religion has dwindled in influence, says Grayling, neglecting the contrary example of the United States and focusing rather on North London or indeed the long history of religion in nurturing learning A list of people advancing science and education, hoping to see the human liberated from religion and superstition is offered, starting, of course, Dawkins and Dennett but not Peter Cave and ending with that great humanitarian, Christopher Hitchens Parmenides, Plato, Confucius, ignorant folk like that, must yield way to those who have seen further.The task of communicating the new knowledge is however complicated by the fact that religion is like jelly constantly shifting position, so that just as you land a good blow on it, it wobbles to another place Take that, vile Church Times reviewer This is in large part because the religious themselves often do not have clear ideas about what is meant by religion , god , faith and associated concepts In fact, religious belief at root is either self contradictory or meaningless From such a starting point, anything at all follows logically , Professor Grayling explains Quite so, but what then is the relevance of logical arguments to dismantle the religious edifice It would seem, on the author s own account, a fool s enterprise.Perhaps that is why the book is rather less about the traditional philosophical arguments although they are rehearsed than it is about belief Grayling does not believe in religion Maybe he wanted to once I dunno but he can t now Take the philosophical problem of evil Earthquakes cause a lot of suffering After an earthquake people go to church to give thanks and pray for the dead For what do they give thanks That their gods or the world designed by their gods arbitrarily or otherwise destroyed and killed Now comes the killer argument bit, Grayling says that the people praying in Church would not do so if a terrorist had killed that many or destroyed that much No, in that case the agent behind such acts would be seen as evil.Grayling says religious apologists cherry pick the evidence to bolster their position But he happily mocks Roman Catholics for hypocrisy in using contraception without feeling the need to acknowledge that many atheists turn up in Church for weddings or funerals Or take what happens to Catholic women who do stick to the no contraception rule a lot of unwanted pregnancies Grayling says consistency is the virtue that should guide us I m not so sure Curiously, American Catholics arelikely to opt for terminations than American Protestants it is sometimes called the Abortion Paradox The child, it is said, is doubly unwanted because of God s displeasure at the sin Logicians normally like paradoxes Grayling discusses abortion at length but never deviates from his simplicities.Grayling denies religion any role in learning, even though there at least he might have found an argument for it But it seems he was not looking too hard

  3. says:

    With much atheist writing today focusing on the imperatives of tackling the myths, contradictions and dangers of religious faith, A C Grayling takes a markedly different approach in The God Argument Following the abstract optimism of his humanist BibleThe Good Book , his aim here is to set out a positive and practical case for the humanist alternative to faith Accordingly, he explains and dismisses the central arguments for religious faith including the familiar teleological, ontologic With much atheist writing today focusing on the imperatives of tackling the myths, contradictions and dangers of religious faith, A C Grayling takes a markedly different approach in The God Argument Following the abstract optimism of his humanist BibleThe Good Book , his aim here is to set out a positive and practical case for the humanist alternative to faith Accordingly, he explains and dismisses the central arguments for religious faith including the familiar teleological, ontological and moral arguments in brisk order, careful to make sure his counter arguments are clear to readers unfamiliar with the philosophical principles he draws upon His positive case in favour of humanism focuses on the practicality of living the good life and here is prose is unhelpfully dense in places Overall, however, Grayling s synthesis of modern ethics and Greek philosophy provides a compelling case for humanism that fairly balances the negative tone of other recent atheist books

  4. says:

    I don t usually put down a book before finishing it and decide to forget about it and move on to reading something else This was one of the very rare exceptions to the rule aforementioned I didn t like the way the arguments were refuted, the style, the structure, how brief and not in depth the chapters analysis were, etc etc There are other books out there, on the same topic, which I have enjoyed reading way .

  5. says:

    Taking an Axe to the Root of Religious BeliefDebates concerning religion and the existence of god can quickly get confusing because we often forget that we are frequently having at least three separate debates simultaneously, as A.C Grayling points out in The God Argument The Case Against Religion and For Humanism.The first debate is metaphysical we want to know if there are good or sufficient reasons for us to believe that god s or some divine agency exists The second is social we want Taking an Axe to the Root of Religious BeliefDebates concerning religion and the existence of god can quickly get confusing because we often forget that we are frequently having at least three separate debates simultaneously, as A.C Grayling points out in The God Argument The Case Against Religion and For Humanism.The first debate is metaphysical we want to know if there are good or sufficient reasons for us to believe that god s or some divine agency exists The second is social we want to determine the influence religion should have in public debate and policy And the third is moral we want to establish whether morality comes from divine sanctions or else from human reflection and reason What is interesting to note as Grayling correctly points out is that if we answer the first question in the negative, and determine that there is no good reason to believe in the existence of god, then there is little point in discussing the social or moral ramifications of religious belief insofar as it relies on god s existence It would make little sense to affirm that god does not exist or that it is irrational to believe in god s existence and then to suggest that religious views predicated on god s existence should be taken seriously in the public square or that our morality comes from a non existent entity Of course, people should have the freedom to form their own beliefs according to the dictates of their own conscience and this should be respected in the personal sphere of life granted that harm is not inflicted upon others but this certainly doesn t mean that irrational ideas should receive undue and privileged public respect and influence All ideas should be subject to challenge So while there are many good reasons to fight for the separation of church and state, and many good reasons to prefer humanism over divine command theory as Grayling masterfully covers , these issues are, largely, beside the point if it can be shown that there are no good reasons to believe that god exists in the first place Therefore, by taking an axe to the root of religious belief by demonstrating that belief in a supreme being is in fact highly irrational we can resolve all debates simultaneously Let s see if Grayling accomplishes this Explaining mysteries with mysteriesLet s first consider this question What counts as a good explanation In very general terms, a good explanation must be both 1 specific and 2 testable For example, a good explanation for how plants grow will include the details of photosynthesis and how plants convert light energy into chemical energy to be used to fuel the plants activity and growth Photosynthesis is a good explanation because of the depth and specificity of the details, which makes the theory testable and falsifiable through experiment Photosynthesis accounts for the available evidence in a specific way and would not be valid if the details of plant biology varied even slightly.Conversely, what counts as a bad explanation We can say, generally, that a bad explanation is one that is 1 non specific and, therefore, 2 not testable or falsifiable For example, if we were to say that plants grow through magic spells cast by invisible fairies, this could, in fact, account for all instances of actual and possible plant growth, but it would be impossible to test this theory because it s not specific enough to be evaluated and it actually shields itself against evaluation by asserting the invisibility of the fairies The key point is that the invisible fairy hypothesis would be consistent with plant growth even if plant biology were completely different Because the hypothesis accounts for everything, in practical terms it accounts for nothing, or, as the philosopher of science Karl Popper would put it, A theory that explains everything, explains nothing The uncomfortable truth regarding the religious conceptions of god is that they are not as dissimilar from the invisible fairies as you might suppose For example, we can ask the following question Where did the universe and all of life come from Science, of course, provides some good albeit incomplete answers modern physics and evolutionary biology describe, in painstaking mathematical and empirical detail, the physical and biological processes that make up the universe and life on earth Scientific theories are testable and falsifiable and subject to refinement, and if the universe operated in slightly different ways, we would have to abandon our scientific theories and replace them with new ones.What about the religious explanations for the existence of the universe and life on earth They amount to littlethan the argument that invisible fairies cast magic spells to grow plants For example, modern versions of the cosmological argument which claim that the universe requires a first cause explicitly state that this first cause, which they call god, transcends time and space, which is, essentially, another way of saying that god is invisible and casts spells This is a necessary move for the theist to avoid a blatant contradiction To see how, let s quickly review a version of the cosmological argument known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument KCA 1 Whatever begins to exist has a cause 2 The universe began to exist 3 Therefore, the universe has a cause, which is God.We can immediately see the problem here if everything requires a cause, then why doesn t god require a cause The theist will then claim, as theologian William Lane Craig maintains, that god requires no cause because god exists outside of time and space, just like our invisible garden fairies Similarly, design arguments for the existence of god take the same stance Theists maintain that the complexity of the world requires a designer, but when asked if the designer, who must be at least as complex as the universe it created, also requires a designer, they will claim that god is not actually complex So god exists outside of time and space and has no complex parts or properties to explain, yet somehow created the universe and continues to interact with it This is sounding uncomfortably close to our plant growing fairies.The problem with the arguments for god s existence should by now be readily apparent Theists are attempting to explain the mysteries of the universe with another mystery, without noticing that the substitute mystery god requires the exact same explanations as the original mysteries it is supposedly explaining the origin and complexity of the universe Further, the arguments for god s existence only work if god is defined in such a way as to be completely inaccessible to investigation or evaluation God, defined in this way, can account for everything, and even if the universe were completely different, the cosmological and design arguments would still apply But we should take pains to always remind ourselves of Popper s crucial point namely, that theories that explain everything explain nothing Sagan s dragon and Russell s teapotCarl Sagan famously made a similar point in his book The Demon Haunted World In the chapter titled The Dragon in My Garage, Sagan wrote A fire breathing dragon lives in my garage Suppose I seriously make such an assertion to you Surely you d want to check it out, see for yourself There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence What an opportunity Show me, you say I lead you to my garage You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle but no dragon Where s the dragon you ask Oh, she s right here, I reply, waving vaguely I neglected to mention that she s an invisible dragon You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon s footprints Good idea, I say, but this dragon floats in the air Then you ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless You ll spray paint the dragon and make her visible Good idea, but she s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won t stick And so on I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won t work.Now, what s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all If there s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder What I m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say so.We can reframe Sagan s question as follows What s the difference between an atemporal, nonspatial, incorporeal, invisible god and no god at all Theists, in their attempts to define god in such a way as to make their arguments coherent, end up stripping away all of god s properties until there s nothing left.Bertrand Russell, writing in 1952, expressed the same point in a different way In an analogy referred to as Russell s Teapot, Russell wrote Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them This is, of course, a mistake If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time Notice that within Russell s teapot analogy is an argument against agnosticism If someone were to ask you to describe your beliefs regarding the existence of the china teapot, would you describe yourself as an a teapotist or as a teapot agnostic The teapot almost certainly doesn t exist, and just because someone asserts its existence without evidence doesn t make itlikely to exist, and therefore we have no reason to believe in it, or to even label ourselves as undecided Whether we are talking about invisible fairies, Sagan s invisible dragon, Russell s invisible floating teapot, or incorporeal, nonspatial gods, the point is always the same the philosophical burden of proof always falls on those making the claims since a virtually infinite number of claims can be made , rather than shifting the burden of disproof onto others Further, mysteries cannot be solved by introducing other mysteries, and, without the weight of tradition, irrational explanations would not be persuasive on their own Ask yourself how many people would be persuaded by something like the cosmological argument if they didn t already believe in god The likely answer is very few The weight of tradition gives credibility to worldviews that, on their own, are nothing short of absurd The absurdity, however, is masked by the number of followers and the emotional appeal of the beliefs But we must never sacrifice our intellectual integrity in service to consolation, wishful thinking, or tradition alone Faith, or belief in the face of little to no evidence, or even contradictory evidence, is no virtue A Better AlternativeOnce the mind has been liberated from belief in god and has been disabused of the idea that life s meaning must be imposed from an external source, the individual is truly free to develop a richer conception of life as the pursuit of one s own meaning, goals, relationships, and pleasures Love, friendship, hobbies, community involvement, helping others, and many other pleasurable and worthwhile endeavors lose nothing from the fact that an invisible entity is not perpetually watching you from above So, what then, is the good life The best answer seems to be that there is no single, one size fits all answer, and that at least part of the answer lies in the pursuit of ethical knowledge itself Living the good life is not about finding a single author, tradition, or text to simply obey Rather, living the good life isabout taking full advantage of your intellectual freedom and rational capacity to explore the great traditions of the past and to choose what best suits your own life and personality Crafting one s own meaning and purpose based on the exploration of humanity s collective wisdom as expressed in the great literature of the past and present seems infinitelyfulfilling than blind obedience to a single ancient text and viewpoint that cannot withstand critical scrutiny As Grayling wrote The message is clarion clear to think for oneself is essential to the good life because what flows from doing so is one s own If others do the thinking for one, or if orthodoxies or traditions do it, one s life is not one s own The good and well lived life is not a servitude, but a service to one s own chosen values So the train of thought goes freedom is what makes it possible to create meaning in one s life, and the creation of meaning in one s life is the good life itself

  6. says:

    Grayling is rigorously logical in his analysis of the god question Some memorable concepts for me were Grayling says he doesn t believe in gods, goddesses or supernatural agencies He suggests that saying one doesn t believe in God creates the illusion that there is a real being one is choosing not to believe in He suggests that stamp collectors can form a common interest group but those choosing not to collect stamps are hardly likely to form a non stamp collectors group In the same w Grayling is rigorously logical in his analysis of the god question Some memorable concepts for me were Grayling says he doesn t believe in gods, goddesses or supernatural agencies He suggests that saying one doesn t believe in God creates the illusion that there is a real being one is choosing not to believe in He suggests that stamp collectors can form a common interest group but those choosing not to collect stamps are hardly likely to form a non stamp collectors group In the same way, he argues those who don t believe in gods and goddesses are not likely to form a group Many mythologies that predate Christianity have gods impregnating women and producing god like children Everybody is an atheist with regard to almost all gods Polite opposition did not abolish slavery It took arguments, campaigns and fearless outspoken criticism Freeing the human mind from the enslavement of superstition and religion requires the same approach The universe s parameters are not tuned on purpose for us to exist It is the other way round we exist because the laws happen to be as they are Grayling compares this to the improbability of our own existence Given the extraordinary number of couplings in each individual s ancestry not to mention timing and even the sperm race , the odds against us existing are stupendous However, such an unlikely set of causes are necessary given that we do exist I enjoyed Grayling s analysis of the various philosophical arguments for a god For example, the necessary being idea leads one to conclude that this being is incapable of taking its own life and therefore not existing So the necessary being can t be omnipotent.The second half of Grayling s book argues the preference of humanism to religion as a basis for morality I like the way he argues individual responsibility It is hard to read this section without conceding it is a better way As Grayling says, No wars have been fought over differences of opinion in botany

  7. says:

    In this book A C Grayling argues for two things One is that supernatural beings, including god or other deities, do not exist, and that secular humanism is the best approach to life After taking care of preliminaries about what is meant by god he goes on to discuss the irrationality of a belief in god Then, he goes on to discuss the standard arguments for god and the manifold problems with them He next shows the bankruptcy of religious morals, and he ends up the first part of the book demo In this book A C Grayling argues for two things One is that supernatural beings, including god or other deities, do not exist, and that secular humanism is the best approach to life After taking care of preliminaries about what is meant by god he goes on to discuss the irrationality of a belief in god Then, he goes on to discuss the standard arguments for god and the manifold problems with them He next shows the bankruptcy of religious morals, and he ends up the first part of the book demolishing creationism and intelligent design The second part presents his arguments for the superiority of secular humanism for ethical and moral concerns over religious ones He shows here its contribution to ethics, leading a good life, making a better world to live in, the importance of our shared humanity, the difference between ethics and morals I had never seen this division before he explains ethics is are personal concern with life and morality is how we treat others in large part due to our own personal ethics , and some modern issues that the Bible or other ancient religious texts have not much to say on them, including love, sex, drugs, and death At the end he returns to show how religion is not equip to handle modern life and why secular humanism is a better path therein.I have a number of comments based on pieces of text from the book Pagination is from the Kindle edition Page numbers are in brackets 38 This religious studies in public schools could not happen in the United States of America, which is officially a secular country, where public money cannot be used to promote religious activity Think again Maybe not money spent on religious instruction in public schools, but public money is spent in various ways in support of religious charities Plus, sessions of Congress still opens with a prayer, which bothers me to no end 92 Two things that stand out in Plantinga s claims are, first, that theism isconsistent with science than atheism because a universe ruled by a deity is an orderly oneExcept the universe is constantly becominganddisordered as time goes on This is because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics Sorry Plantinga can t use an orderly universe in arguing for god s existence And we know that your deity is really the Christian god 96 And then the rest of the argument cosmological falls into place the chain of causes cannot run back infinitely, so there has to be a first cause, and since this first cause is itself not contingent upon or caused by anything else, it must be non contingent, that is, necessary This is according Leibniz, who should have known better because his calculus requires that an approach to a limit that gets infinitely closer and closer 106 In short, there is no need for an external enforcer to make us the kind of people who take such thoughts seriouslyEven so, we do operate under external enforcers Parents and societal laws often fill these functions 115one mark of intelligence is an ability to live with as yet unanswered questions And the ability to ask them 116 By this page I began to realize that Grayling certainly love his fairies 151 The point is not to take dictation from those thinkers such as philosophers , to read and then obey rather, it is to read, discuss, and then take the best of their insights for one s own use, and to make the resulting combination of ideas one s own This could come straight out of Stephie s playbook Taking ideas and making them my own, exploring them in different ways 154 Critics of Aristotle s ethics are not very kind to it They describe his doctrine of the middle path as middle aged, middle class and middlebrow But in keeping with Grayling s views We get to choose our own set of virtues to live by with no guarantee that we will get it 100% right Thus, Aristotle s theory of the mean is a sound method to guide our actions, except we need to determine the virtues that fit us best And it is only one ethical tool among many 160 It follows that ethical discussion cannot be about prescribing to individuals, but must instead be an exploration of the general characteristics that the diversity of good lives tend to display, together with the general principles suggested by morally relevant facts about human experience For me philosophy is at its best when it explores ideas and concepts 167we are animals who thrive when engaged, and suffer from idleness Boredom is my biggest enemy 214 I think it is a humanistic view to hold that people should not be too dependent on fixes for their reliefs and satisfactions the syringe of heroin, the glass after glass of whiskey, even the sleeping tablets and tranquillisers provided on prescription Real reliefs and satisfactions come from relationships, the use of intelligence, curiosity and enquiry, activity directed at doing something or making something worthwhile As one who has lived in both modes of life the second is far far superior.I think Grayling should be included in the triumvirate of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens making them the four horsemen of vocal atheists , or angry atheists as there enemies would define them, not realizing that calling people names does not make their arguments wrong I thoroughly enjoy the book Grayling writes with great clarity and force, putting him up there as one of my favorite authors While convinced atheists and humanists won t need Grayling s arguments to go on believing as they do, it should help fuel the internal fires and maybe gain support for their own views So, I do recommend the book to these already convinced atheists and secular humanist Maybeimportantly, the reader who is not convinced already but is willing to read with an open and questioning mind, I think would benefit greatly As usual with these kinds of books if you are a firm believer unless you want a headache don t even pick the book up Hey, but who knows maybe it will open a crack in your mind Daniel Dennett could also be added, making five golden rings

  8. says:

    The God Argument The Case Against Religion and for Humanism by A.C Grayling The God Argument is a very respectful, thought provoking and accessible book that addresses the case against religion while making the compelling case for a superior ethical way of living, humanism Accomplished author and English philosopher, A.C Grayling, provides the reader with an excellent modern reference to the most important philosophical questions of ethics and morality This stimulating 288 page book is bro The God Argument The Case Against Religion and for Humanism by A.C Grayling The God Argument is a very respectful, thought provoking and accessible book that addresses the case against religion while making the compelling case for a superior ethical way of living, humanism Accomplished author and English philosopher, A.C Grayling, provides the reader with an excellent modern reference to the most important philosophical questions of ethics and morality This stimulating 288 page book is broken into two parts Part I Against Religion, and Part II For Humanism Positives 1 Elegant dignified prose The author is very respectful and treats this fascinating topic with utmost respect and care.2 A philosophical focus on the most interesting topic, religion.3 The author has a great command of the topic and does a masterful job of keeping it an accessible level without compromising the intellectual core of the topic.4 The reality of contesting religion Contesting religion is like engaging in a boxing match with jelly it is a shifting, unclear, amorphous target, which every blow displaces to a new shape.5 You never feel lost in this book The author does a great job of staying focused on the task in hand, In my view, the argument against religion is an argument for the liberation of the human mind, and the possibility of at last formulating an ethical outlook that humankind can share, thus providing a basis for a muchintegrated and peaceful world 6 Does a good job of defining terms smoothly within the context of the narrative 7 Thought provoking ideas and concepts that challenge the trend, This fact about the Chinese, the most numerous people on Earth and a large fraction of the Earth s human population, gives the lie to the theory that belief in a god is hard wired in the human brain 8 The inconsistencies of religious beliefs, The evidence of the world is in fact farconsistent with the existence of an evil deity than a good deity, or at least a deity capable of evil andthan occasionally intent on causing it but this is not a line that many religious apologists take 9 The roots of religion, Religion is exactly the same kind of thing as astrology it originates in the pre scientific, rudimentary metaphysics of our ancestors 10 How science claims differ from religious ones Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder What I m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say so11 Debunking the three most popular arguments for God argument from design teleological , ontological argument, and the cosmological argument Strong arguments against the theistic claims.12 The dismantling of Pascal s wager and the poor moral argument for the existence of a deity 13 Debunking the notion for a designer, In short, the explanatory value of the idea of a designer or deity to explain in its turn the universe and the complexity of life in it is null 14 The danger of the Creationist lobby No scientists would wish students not to think critically about anything 15 The three separate debates between religion and its critics theism atheism debate, secularism debate, and a debate about the source and content of our moralities Great stuff here I enjoyed the defining of militancy.16 Persuasive discussion on the merits of humanism In essence, humanism is the ethical outlook that says each individual is responsible for choosing his or her values and goals and working towards the latter in the light of the former, and is equally responsible for living considerately towards others, with a special view to establishing good relationships at the heart of life, because all good lives are premised on such 17 A brief historical look at secular humanism Defining the good life.18 Differing between ethics and morality Morality is about what is permissible and forbidden in particular realms of behaviour ethics is about one s character 19 Interesting section on abortions and assisted suicide euthanasia In short, euthanasia which we should understand as a good dying should be available to all of us, and not least to the ill and old if they desire it not if someone else desires it for them 20 Comparing laws involving blasphemy Compare this to now repealed nineteenth century laws in certain states of the United States, where the penalty for anyone who wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, His creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures was anything up to a year in jail and a fine not exceeding 300 21 One of my favorite points in the book, Morality has to be grounded and justified independently of claims about the existence of gods or other supernatural agencies and what they are said to demand of their creatures Negatives 1 My biggest criticism of the book is the lack of citations there was a total of forty to be exact A well written and provocative book like this warranted .2 My instinct tells me the book was rushed based on a couple of misspells that I caught career, installment and the aforementioned lack of citations Not a major issue just not to the standards one expects from a book of Grayling s caliber.3 This book is intended for the masses and I must say I am grateful for the approach but for thedemanding reader and scholarly philosophers it may lack depth.4 No mention of the now popular yet debunked Kalam version of the Cosmological argument.5 Didn t go after the concept of the soul, spirit, or some of the other popular metaphysical claims.6 No formal bibliography.In summary, this is a solid and enjoyable book to read I can see myself going back to this book as reference The author makes very solid, civil arguments against the claims of religion while convincingly pushing forward afavorable ethical manner of living Putting aside, the lack of citations and lack of depth in some areas, this is a highly recommended book Further suggestions Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt, Why I Became an Atheist A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity and The End of Christianity by John Loftus, Sense and Goodness Without God A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism and Why I m Not a Christian by Richard Carrier, Natural Atheism and Atheism Advanced Further Thoughts of a Freethinker by Dr David Eller, Man Made God A Collection of Essays by Barbara G Walker, The Moral Landscape How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris, The World Is Not as We Think It Is by Dennis Littrell, Immortality by Stephen Cave God The Failed Hypothesis How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist by Victor J Stenger, Godless by Dan Barker, Christian No More by Jeffrey Mark, and The Invention of God by Bill Lauritzen

  9. says:

    From a plurality of prime movers, the monotheists have bargained it down to a single one They are getting ever nearer to the true, round figure. Christopher Hitchens Faith is believing in what you know ain t soMark TwainWhen Christopher Hitchens died from cancer in December of 2011 the world lost a powerful opponent of iron age superstition and irrationality He was the most pugnacious, and arguably the most eloquent, of the so called Four Horsemen of New Atheism His passing left huge sh From a plurality of prime movers, the monotheists have bargained it down to a single one They are getting ever nearer to the true, round figure. Christopher Hitchens Faith is believing in what you know ain t soMark TwainWhen Christopher Hitchens died from cancer in December of 2011 the world lost a powerful opponent of iron age superstition and irrationality He was the most pugnacious, and arguably the most eloquent, of the so called Four Horsemen of New Atheism His passing left huge shoes to fill, but I have to say that A.C Grayling has done a decent job in his new book The God Argument The Case against Religion and for Humanism Though Grayling s style is less bombastic, his background as an academic and philosopher gives him the tools necessary to carefully dismantle the rationale for religious i.e supernatural beliefs as well as argue for their replacement with a humanistic worldview As the subtitle suggests, the book is divided into two parts with the first consisting of a Case against Religion and the second of a Case for Humanism.In his case against religion, Grayling dismantles the three primary methods apologists use to argue for god the teleological argument, the ontological argument and the cosmological argument While he does a nice job in this regard, the best moments come as he defines what people mean by god and his dissection of the fact that they, by necessity, resort to ineffability to describe their creator This ineffability defined as incapable of being expressed or described in words inexpressible is a result of the fact that believers really have no distinct conception of the deity in which they supposedly believe Their god is both loving and omnipotent, yet he allows tremendous suffering because it s part of some mysterious plan Everything from tsunamis, starvation, child abuse, bigotry, war, earthquakes and cancer is rationalized as being in accordance with this plan in the minds of believers Why would a loving god create creatures that can only survive through violence by killing and eating each other It s that ineffable mystery every single time and it is this mystery that explains everything there is to know about the world This type of argument should be dismissed out of hand because, as Karl Popper put it,A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.In an era where science has developed or is in the process of developing naturalistic and testable explanations of the world, you would expect religion to begin loosening its grip on society And in fact, that s exactly what you find Much of the western world is entirely secular and even in the US there s a distinct air of desperation as evangelical Christians try everything from enacting laws to force their religious beliefs on others creationism, marriage inequality, abortion bans , to creating their own insular forms of media Christian radio, TV and movies to indoctrination through homeschooling in an attempt to stave off the secularizing influence of the broader world While they may delay the inevitable, the powerful historical trend away from religion and towards secularization is irrefutable Grayling sums up his section on religion nicely with the following The cumulative case against religion shows it to be a hangover from the infancy of modern humanity, persistent and enduring because of the vested interests of religious organizations, proselytization of children, complicity of temporal powers requiring the social and moral policing that religion offers, and human psychology itself.Next, Grayling discusses humanism as a worldview to replace that typically held by religious belief Wiki defines humanism as a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence rationalism, empiricism over established doctrine or faith fideism Basically it holds that individuals must determine what is important and meaningful for themselves, instead of having it imposed from the outside.Humanism allows individuals to flourish because it allows them to lead autonomous lives through pursuit of their own interests and needs It offers strong support for individual human rights and dignity and recognizes that human relationships are central to a happy and fulfilled life It seeks to reduce suffering and curtail those behaviors that are its source Most importantly, it relies on evidence based decisions for its system of ethics as opposed to some ancient book s deeply flawed dictates The most common critique of humanism is that it leads to moral relativism But this is a willful misreading of the system of thought Human flourishing occurs when individuals have access to loving relationships, access to education, meaningful work, and live in an atmosphere free from fear and suffering These universals form the basis of the philosophy, and while different people may placeemphasis on one aspect over another, in no case would behaviors that cause misery be acceptable In stark contrast to religion, the humanistic worldview would not seek to kill those who profess different beliefs, prohibit contraceptives in an area devastated by AIDs, require a rape victim to give birth to her attacker s child, condemn homosexuality and seek to restrict their right to marry or adopt children, or relegate women to a role as second class citizens In short, replacing religion with humanism would make the world a better place to live

  10. says:

    An excellent read The book is divided into two sections Section 1 evaluates common arguments in support of theism and shows how they are incoherent, inconsistent, or unnecessary in particular unnecessary in forming the basis for ethics and morality The second section lays out the way in which secular humanism may contribute to various ethical and moral issues The writing is intelligent, witty, wise, sensitive, and compelling Grayling is one of the most eloquent voices in contemporary ath An excellent read The book is divided into two sections Section 1 evaluates common arguments in support of theism and shows how they are incoherent, inconsistent, or unnecessary in particular unnecessary in forming the basis for ethics and morality The second section lays out the way in which secular humanism may contribute to various ethical and moral issues The writing is intelligent, witty, wise, sensitive, and compelling Grayling is one of the most eloquent voices in contemporary atheism and secular humanism Inspiring and hopeful

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