Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
A few years ago I read End of Faith by Sam Harris and loved it. Ever since then I have been incredibly intrigued by the books of the “atheist chic” as well as their Christian critics. Not long ago I reviewed The God Delusion as well the book’s counter argument The Dawkins Delusion. In addition, last March I reviewed Keith Ward’s Christian response Is Religion Dangerous.
I have stated at least once on Maphead’s book blog that ultimately, the search for truth is a dialectical process. Therefore, I feel it is necessary to read differing viewpoints on a subject. That, in my opinion is how we come to know the truth, or at least get closer to knowing the truth. Hopefully.
Recently I read two books by members of that Atheist Chic, namely Englishman Christopher Hitchens and Frenchman Michel Onfray. I was pleasantly surprised by both books.
I can’t remember how I first heard of Michel Onfray’s 2005 controversial best seller Atheist Manifesto:The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam
but it had been on my “to read” list for the last few years. I happened
to find it on the shelf of my county’s central library so I thought I
would give it a shot.
Much to my surprise I found the book
both passionate and readable. To be honest, I have not had very good
luck with books devoted to modern European philosophy. Luckily for me,
Onfray is quite direct with his arguments and perhaps above all, Jeremy
Leggat’s translation was excellent.
While I am not an atheist, I
enjoy the writings of people like Onfray and his co-“no religionists”
like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. I found Onfray’s points both
provocative and interesting. My only gripe with his book is its lack of
footnotes and bibliography. Perhaps a manifesto does not need a
bibliography, but Onfray makes a number of claims especially regarding the
Catholic Church and it would be nice to see his supporting documentation. If
anything else, good writing always inspires me to read more-more by the
same author or more of the same subject matter. A bibliography can
assist with that endeavor.
Next up would be God Is Not Great
by social critic/public intellectual/professional contrarian/”rhetorical
pugilist”/high profile curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens. Based on my
preconceived notions of both Hitchens and his book, I fully expected
not to like it. Well, much to my surprise I enjoyed his controversial
book quite a bit. I found it to be readable, persuasive, as well as
but perhaps in a highly entertaining way. Just like I did with Onfray’s book, I didn’t think I was going to like it but lo and behold I did.
I am hoping to follow up these two books with two similar books. Daniel Dennet’s Breaking the Spell has been sitting unread in my personal library for way too long and needs to be read. And just the other day at my local library I picked up Irreligion by John Allen Paulos.
God help me if I can’t get through all these atheist books.