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3.4 out of 5 stars
The Good Book: A Humanist Bible
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446 of 456 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought this book with no expectations. I had read an article about it, as an atheist I liked the idea and wanted to support Grayling's work so I bought it. I really was pleasantly surprised.

This book is not a compilation of work. You will not open it up and find passages from various works called out by author. It is truly written in the style of the Bible - Grayling has taken the collected wisdom of hundreds of secular philosophers and melded it together in the flowery prose form typical of the Bible. There is no reference list at the back to tell you where anything came from, he has taken the ideas and the texts and melted them together.

The Good Book begins with Genesis, where you can see the ideas of Darwin laid out in an inspirational way. Reading through this I was really pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I'm used to this language being peppered with things I don't believe in, and listening to it at weddings or funerals generally gives me a lump in my stomach. Here was the same kind of lofty language, but saying the things I believed! I didn't realize how much I would enjoy hearing Darwin's theory of evolution told as a beautiful story of how we began and the cycle of life.

As you make your way though the book, you can clearly see where he has incorporated Plato's dialogs, but without specific references. Characters are mentioned in the same way as the Bible, introduced without preamble, just snippets of conversation or story which attempt to showcase an idea. There are passages on grief and death as well.

If you are looking to learn the works of these philosophers in an intellectual way, this is not the book for you. This book is meant to absorb the ideas they upheld in a more spiritual feeling way. I wish this book had been published before I got married, I would have looked for a passage from it to read at my wedding. I could see reading it at a funeral, there really is something cathartic about having grief and death and moving on with life written in this way.

I feel in some ways as an Atheist this may have been what I was missing and didn't realize it. I didn't have anything to help me find a way to feel good about my place in nature's greater story, I just felt the absence of the belief in an afterlife. I also feel like this is a book I could read to my kids to help them figure out how to be a good person in a world which is not always good and in which you cannot rely on a all powerful being to save you from your problems. The language is flowery and poetic, but its also much more accessible than say Kant's Metaphysics of Morals. I minored in philosophy in college, I'm by no means an expert, but I have read some of these works and they are by no means easy to absorb.

So, I think for what this book is trying to accomplish, what it says it is in the description, it is a great work.
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259 of 278 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What ever your religious outlook, even if you do not have one, I can recommend this genuinely wonderful and wise book to add to your library. Grayling has taken his whole life of learning and crafted it into a beautiful and uplifting, humanist and athiest, book of wide wisdom. It is the sort of book that you can read from cover to cover, and become totally engrossed, or you can take any page, chosen at random, and derive great food for thought from it. Grayling crafted his language like music and it reads like a fresh flowing mountain river. I do think that this book will be around for a few more thousand years.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
There are a lot of reviews on here less than 5 stars. Carefully read some before you pass this book over. A.C. Grayling has produced a timeless work worthy of the highest esteem. Some descriptions make this sound like an anthology, a refutation of the bible, or worse. It is none of the above. It is painstakingly crafted, beautifully laid out on the page, and an immense volume that you will enjoy for a long time. I found myself pondering passages carefully. They are written in beautiful prose sometimes and clever rhymes at others. There are quotes within quotes within stories told be sages, and voices from unknown and unidentifiable speakers.
Others say dense, I say full of subtleties.
Others say hard to read, I say filled with english of the highest degree.
Others say devoid of references, I say the knowledge is timeless.

Do not delve into this looking to have atheistic beliefs reinforced, passages by ancient authors quoted, summarized, and referenced, or to have science presented as a refutation to the biblical history of the world. This is a work that should be taken wholly unto itself. Enjoy.
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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
It is absolutely fantastic! Last night I stayed up with my 10 year old daughter and my 7 year old boy reading the Parables chapter - the story of the leopard and fox. They couldn't get enough of it. I read untill I was horse and they wanted more. I had to cut it off and go to bed however after I put them to bed I read it under my covers to not wake my wife. Honestly I can't put it down and I can't wait till I get off work today so I can go home and read it. Thank you AC Grayling!

Regarding the criticism of the lack of footnotes - valid point, at first I was a bit disappointed that there were no sitations of the author, however I think I am actually glad he didn't put them in because it truly would be a distraction for me. I could see myself not focusing on the passage and become more concerned about who wrote what. Then I'd have to go look it up, etc. It seems a bit more pure this way with only the wisdom and poetry to focus on. I bought 4 copies for friends and family. I treasure this text like a box of gems to open and discover every day. I'm lucky to have found out about it and yes it is far superior and a lot less scary than the original.
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407 of 473 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Following on the heels of "Moral Landscape" (not in the "Dawkins Delusion" pathetic flea way, but in the happy coincidence way), a book that helps Humanism, Free-thought, atheism, of just plain irreligious secularism to inspire people to be human.

I never found the Christian Bible to be of any value. The writing is poor quality, with only a few memorable lines in the whole vile volume of bigotry, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and feces obsessions. The Jewish and Muslim versions started or continued that same trashy series. The Mahabharata is no better, though the unintelligible and incoherent mess of characters makes that book more confusing than revolting.

Here is a book I am not afraid to let my child read. No stories about daughters banging their drunk dad. No stories about sacrificing unnamed daughters to some god. No cooking food over dung. No genocide. No deaths of all first born sons. No promises of cured illnesses. No appeals to an end of the universe. No masochistic gods having themselves beaten so they can become a zombie. Nope. Just a clean book of good thoughts. Probably the book they would have written 3000 years ago if they weren't ignorant, warmongering, polygamous, and genocidal tyrant sheep herders too busy laying siege to their "promised land" to give a hoot about kindness or charity.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I find the book useful in the way the author/compiler seems to have meant it to be. I'm at a loss to understand the litany from one-star reviewers that he's failed to provide references. I don't believe this is meant as a dictionary of humanistic thought. The passages have their own worth. Oscar Wilde says in The Picture of Dorian Grey, "The value of an idea has nothing to do with the honesty of the man expressing it." To that I would add, the value of an idea has nothing to do with knowing who said it. I think people are faulting the book for not being what the author never intended it to be in the first place.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was hesitant to buy this book, just because I have so much to read and I left religion as a child so I'm comfortable as an atheist and didn't feel I need any kind of guidance. Well, I didn't realize the wonderful nature of this book, nor the beautiful format and content! I had the wrong impression about what it was!

Wow, I am so impressed with this hefty tome! It's everything religious text should have been and are not. This version of Genesis is realistic, amazing, and awesome. It's written with stark awareness, an interconnection with nature and reality, and optimistic poignancy. It voices what so many of us had thought about, but articulates it all in a delightful poetic manner, as gorgeous as nature itself.

I'm not a fan of poetry and never have been, but this book touches me deeply. I see how Grayling has tried to stay in similar style to how the Christian bible was written, but his writing far exceeds anything in the bible, his words resonate so deeply and beautifully . . . I keep tweeting awesome quotes and sharing on FB.

This book is so well done, a pleasure to read, to page through, picking out verses, or reading page by page. It's a book I will refer to often, enjoying chapters, picking out lines. A wonderful tome that should be in the hands of everyone on the planet!

BTW, I recommend the hard copy and no Kindle, as it's just wonderful to page through, to put sticky notes in, or highlight lines. Buy it, ready it, savor it, and share it. Well done, Grayling. Wow!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book has loads of positive reflections on morality. It appeals to both east and western traditions, such as virtue ethics and Confucianism (which in my amateur opinion is essentially the same thing). My favorite thing about the book is how uplifting it is. It is not snide to religion, but a celebration of reason.

I really enjoyed all 600 pages of it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I would own and recommend this book soley for its Historic and Outrageously Audacious intent. I hope that Grayling is not the last nor the least to try to fill this vast, painful and gapping hole in the evolution of our civilization. Personally, I wish Anthony had never tried to mimick the chapter and verse of the Holy Bible. It was a gimmick unworthy of the challenge / goal ...and for me it cast a subtle credenece of form where credence does not exist and introduced a tackiness where purity and brilliance should reign supreme.

This topic/ goal should never be about replacing or challenging modern day thought and culture ...but more about the total transcession of same. I also doubt it will ever be achieved in a single book or by a single author.

At its very least ...extremely thought provoking
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The concept is really very clever and interesting, and I like the idea of having a single book for humanism to stand alongside those of religion and faith. To my sensibility, however, the ideas being expressed therein are so basic and obvious that I'm not receiving any particular enlightenment from reading it. I actually couldn't tell that the verses were quotes from famous authors and philosophers (if they are... I was under the impression after perusing the book that AC Grayling had paraphrased) - they're so chopped up and intermixed that all personality has disappeared.

I thought this was going to be an anthology, like Judaism In A Secular Age, so perhaps my disappointment is merely the result of misguided expectations.

I will be donating this book to my congregation's library. I think it's an excellent addition there and would be great for showing to kids, but it's not something I'd keep on my bookshelf of "sacred" favorites.
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