The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism [NOOK Book]

Overview

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? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and 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 ...
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The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism

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Overview

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? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and 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 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The battles over religion continue. British philosopher, professor, and author A.C. Grayling (Friendship; Wittgenstein; Ideas That Matter) is no stranger to these wars; indeed, his 2011 humanist bible The Good Book has become a marching anthem for those searching for alternatives to religion. The God Argument paradoxically undermines the claim for a Deity's existence by systematically examining the arguments for His or Her existence. Believers might not be converted by his descriptions of the superiority of humanism, but his book will serve others as profitable food for thought. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Library Journal
The newest offering by prolific English philosopher Grayling (Master, New Coll. of the Humanities, London; The Good Book: A Humanist Bible) is essentially two books in one. The first part is a now fairly standard atheistic critique of religion, in the vein of Richard Dawkins, in which Grayling viciously attacks religion at its root, sparing not even moderate believers. Along the way, he assesses the teleological, ontological, and cosmological arguments for the existence of God, as well as Pascal's Wager. The second part is a positive argument in support of humanism as an approach to ethics, which calls to mind the life and writings of philosopher Paul Kurtz. Drawing largely from classical Greek philosophy, Grayling lays out one potential path (among others) to a life of meaning, value, and virtue without God. A highlight is the section about death and dying from a humanistic perspective. VERDICT Grayling's evisceration of even the moderately religious will unnecessarily alienate many potential readers and partners in his humanistic vision. Recommended for fans of Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris.—Brian Sullivan, Alfred Univ. Lib., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620401910
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 3/26/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 271,102
  • File size: 485 KB

Meet the Author

A.C. Grayling is professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of the acclaimed Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, Descartes: The Life and Times of a Genius, Toward the Light of Liberty: The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World, and, most recently, The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. A former fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos and past chairman of the human rights organization June Fourth, he contributes frequently to the Times, Financial Times, Economist, New Statesman, and Prospect. Grayling’s play "Grace," co-written with Mick Gordon, was acclaimed in London and New York. He lives in London.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Refreshing, if cluttered

    Argylle has well thought through both the negative arguments against deity and religion and the positive arguments for making meaning from a naturalistic perspective, i.e. humanism. Although well thought out, occasionally his writing gets bogged down under the weight of his ideas. A few such moments aside, his thoughts are refreshing and occasionally paradigm shifting for someone crawling out from under a life crushed by religious pressures.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    A Good Book for Atheists

    An atheist myself, I have followed the "new atheism" movement pretty closely, and was excited to read this book. The first half attempts to disprove religion, and I found it rather disappointing. Grayling merely adumbrated the arguments against religion, and failed to fully engage the more sophisticated defenses of religion. The second half of book, however, was fascinating. While much of what atheists say of humanism just seems like white noise, Grayling provides robust support for humanism and sketched out his personal worldview (which, he cautions readers, is not the only perspective a humanist can have). It is in this part that the book reveals its true value.

    Overall, I did not think the book was particularly well-written. The phrasing often seemed awkward, and the writer sometimes seemed ambiguous or abstruse. That said, it is a very good read for atheists, but theists looking for a good polemic against religion should look elsewhere, as this book endeavors more to develop a humanistic view of reality than it does to combat religion (although it does both). It is not meant as a substantial criticsm of Christian apologetics.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    A Godawful Sloppy Argument. I was hoping that this book would p

    A Godawful Sloppy Argument. I was hoping that this book would provide a concise outline of the New Atheism that has been hitting the bestseller lists; but Grayling's New Atheism turns out to be pretty much like the old atheism circa 1900. This book has no organization and few arguments, and fails to achieve shrillness only due to its limp prose, not from any lack of ad hominem arguments against ignorant believers who could not possibly believe such nonsense if they hadn't been indoctrinated into it as children. Rather than systematically address the three standard arguments against religion (rational, moral, and historical), Grayling throws out bits and pieces of each in a stream of consciousness diatribe. He does make a fairly direct rational argument against fundamentalism, but then seeks to extend his conclusion to all religion by asserting that fundamentalism is the genuine article and other more complex religious beliefs are merely watered down versions of it--which is rather like dismissing mathematics on the basis that it is just watered down Pythagorean number worship. He mentions the moral argument here and there, but cannot address it seriously due to his refusal to engage with actual religious belief. (For someone presuming to write a book on this subject, his evident ignorance of Christian theology is downright stunning.) The historical argument appears often, but only in rhetorical jabs where he assumes that the reader shares his evaluation of history--good secular Classical Age, bad religious Dark Ages, good secular Renaissance and Enlightenment--that seems to come straight out of HG Wells' 1920 Outline of History. Virtually every historical statement in this book is highly contestable or simply false. (Most egregious is a footnote stating that "Socrates was put to death when the Thirty Tyrants were in power, because he angered them. This could not have happened in Pericles' Athens." But the Thirty reigned in 404-403 BCE, several years before Socrates' trial and death in 399 under the restored democracy. And if Grayling hadn't been living under a rock for the last century he might have heard that Socrates was likely tried and condemned because, after two bloody oligarchic coups within the space of a decade, Athenian democrats understandably saw him as the ideologist for the oligarchs, who had encouraged young Athenian aristocrats--including Critias, one of the two leaders of the Thirty--to despise democracy and admire the Spartan constitution; and following the generous and successful amnesty accorded by the democrats to the deposed oligarchs, Socrates flouted the implicit terms of this settlement and openly continued to teach contempt for democracy to a new generation of wealthy Athenian youth. See IF Stone, The Trial of Socrates. Whether Pericles would have spared Socrates is at best an open question.) Grayling's parody of Victorian historical prejudices leads to some bizarre arguments: he mentions Hitler, Stalin, and Mao not to counter the point that atheism has its own historical baggage (much less the more serious point that communism was itself an offshoot of the humanist Enlightenment project), but rather to liken extreme political ideologies to religions which in turn explains why they go wrong. In the second half of his book, Grayling moves on from attacking religion to explaining his humanist views on issues such as love, sex, homosexuality, pornography, drug use, euthanasia, abortion, and blasphemy. This is mostly platitudes and there are no prizes for guessing his views on every issue. But he makes two interesting points. First, he asserts (my paraphrase) that each person is responsible for designing their own system of ethics to live by--which is from Nietzsche although Grayling doesn't credit him (maybe because some might associate Nietzsche with the pseudo-religious Nazis?). Second, he distinguishes between ethics (the development of personal character) and morality (obligations and duties regarding relationships with others), with morality being only a part of ethics. This is a useful distinction, but what Grayling does with it is telling: he largely rejects traditional morality as consisting of external, religiously motivated rules that arbitrarily constrain personal autonomy, while embracing a return to the broader ethical standards of classical philosophy which aspire to a good (well-lived) life rather than a moral one. He doesn't realize it, but here he has stumbled backwards over the historical argument FOR religion: that in the ancient Hellenistic world the classical ethical virtues (pragmatism, justice, temperance, courage, etc.) were found to be inadequate and so were supplemented by and subordinated to the Jewish (and earlier Sumerian) moral virtue of altruism (love, charity, etc.) which then became the core of Western morality from the early Christian church down to contemporary secular humanists (whether they realize it or not). If Grayling wants to reverse that historic shift in values then he will need a far better argument than anything hinted at in this book.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    A.C GAY needs a lesson

    This guy desseves a sparta kick down an endless hole.

    2 out of 50 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 5, 2013

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    Posted August 18, 2013

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    Posted April 6, 2013

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    Posted April 25, 2013

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    Posted May 29, 2013

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