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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book that takes on the popular arguments against belief in God head-on.
I found this book extremely helpful. In a world where weak minded people love to reference some incredibly weak arguments made by popular atheists, it was great to read a book that clearly and lucidly describes the problems with their arguments. He also addresses the weaknesses of many popular (but false) arguments against God and religion in general. He also does it...
Published 2 months ago by mark in austin

versus
129 of 156 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, interesting and slightly bizarre
Despite approaching this from the perspective of a (weak) atheist who has admired Dawkins greatly over the years I enjoyed this book. Anyone who doesn't want to slip into the comfy zone of only ever debating and discussing with people who concur might disagree but, personally, I think that knowing your opponent is preferable. And, when your opponent manages to strike...
Published on May 1, 2008 by M. D. Colebourne


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129 of 156 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, interesting and slightly bizarre, May 1, 2008
This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
Despite approaching this from the perspective of a (weak) atheist who has admired Dawkins greatly over the years I enjoyed this book. Anyone who doesn't want to slip into the comfy zone of only ever debating and discussing with people who concur might disagree but, personally, I think that knowing your opponent is preferable. And, when your opponent manages to strike some good blows AND entertain you into the bargain it has to be a good outcome.

Vox Day has, in general, steered clear of cant and, instead, directly addressed the facts and assertions employed by Harris, Dawkins and Dennett and it is here that, for me at least, the book had the most value. Vox has done his research and lucidly sets out his facts. I think that there are clearly flaws in some of the argumentation, as has been pointed out in other reviews, with a-priori assumption of that to be proved being the most common complaint. However, it's entertaining if you like the mental exercise.

Having said that, I would love to have a book from Vox that addresses the fundamentals; my view is that the impact of a fact, for good or ill, has no bearing whatsoever on its veracity. One can argue that atheism or theism leads to better or worse outcomes but it is fundamentally irrelevant to the argument. Ultimately, there is or there is not a God - period.

Therefore it is entirely pointless for either side to argue for or against the existence of God on the basis of whether that means people behave better, do or do not persecute other races or any other consequence; benign or malign. The consequences are our problem.

In fact, I would love to have books from both sides that directly address the fundamentals rather than long treatises on who behaves better, produces better laws etc etc.

However, given that this book does exactly what it sets out to do (attack Dawkins, Dennett and Harris and try to rebut some of their assertions), does it humerously and does it intelligently I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the debate.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A rousing video game, and then some., June 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
This book reminds me of one of my son's video games. Begin exploring this world, and you will be set upon by dragons, walking skeletons, warewolves, and other monsters. But with the shield of snark, the sword of logic, and great balls of rhetorical fire, you subdue these monsters one after the other -- the Dawkins, the Harris, the Dennett, the Hitchens. (Though contrary to some reviewers, Beale evinces sympathy for these latter two monsters.) Of course, blowing up the creature does not mean it will not come back, to be set down again on its scaly or bony behind.

Where does your wandering take you? Beale admits from the outset that he has no fixed destination of demonstrable truth he is aiming for. (Though he has certain assumptions, justification unspecified.) The game is the thing in which he will capture the heart of the reader.

This is no fun if you are allied with the monsters, or agree with their philosophy, as is evident from many reviews below. It can be a lot of fun if you accept the premise of the game -- battle for battle's sake, intellectual conquest to watch the sparks fly and put monsters in their place. Anyone who likes boring prose (and there seem to be some of you out there!) should leave it alone. Those who hate writers who go off on tangents should also find something else to read. New Atheists who can't stand criticism and lack any sense of humor (except by Dawkins or Myers) should run, not walk in the other direction.

This is not to say that Beale offers no facts. In some cases Beale gives detailed data in service of his arguments. Beale makes many interesting points about warfare, about murder rates in "red" and "blue" areas, on the causes of suicide bombings (atheists forget the Tamil Tigers), on art and creativity, and on health care. But the arguments are not systematically deployed for any clear purpose greater than deconstruction.

As author of one of the first rebuttals of the New Atheism, I have to admit laughing out loud at times. Beale may be kicked four dead horsemen, but does get in some choice pokes. He also, I think, makes a few dubious arguments. Let me give further examples of both.

"The witty, meticulous, and inventive Dawkins of the Selfish Gene is simply not the clumsy, error-prone Dawkins of the God Delusion."

Beale ascribes this to Dawkins' advancing age. Maybe so, but I think it is not because Dawkins has lost his edge -- GD is still often quite witty -- but because age has lent Dawkins prestige by which he meddles in topics he now has no time or humility to learn well. (Thus the scads of friendly web pages where Dawkins' bibliography ought to have gone.)

"Harris has probably caused greater human unhappiness with his books than his fellow atheist, Jeffrey Dahmer, ever did with his exotic diet, so by his own reckoning, Harris is less moral than Dahmer."

Now of course this is exaggerated and grotesque, but it makes a serious point: maybe Harris' way of determining morality is defective -- Beale loves to hoist his foes by their own petards.

On the other hand:

* The Ontological Argument has "never" been important in Christian theology, and is famous more because of "its later resurrection and rejections by David Hume and Bertrand Russell." Beale wants us to know that is wrong.

Well that's a relief! Only the argument is actually taken seriously by many serious philosophers, and Beale's say-so on a matter on which he does not even claim any expertise is hardly decisive.

* Beale is often amusing in his attacks on Sam Harris, but I think grossly misinterprets Harris' admittedly stupid comment about there being beliefs it is right to kill people for possessing. In context, I do not think Harris was proposing a police state. On the other hand, I think Beale is too kind to Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, which I found patronizing, bombastic, and not a credible explanation of religion. (Much as I enjoyed Dennett's amusing philosophical dictionary.)

* "The violence in Palestine began with the secular Zionists attacking the Christian British."

Aside from the question of exactly how Christian the British were, actually there were multiple riots by Muslims against the Jews in Palestine already in the 19th Century . . . If one doesn't begin in the 6th Century with Mohammed.

* Beale cite Jared Diamond explaining that China was mired in the past for want of "small core areas" that would lend it political pluralism and experimentation. This is not incredible, but seems debatable -- China often was split into numerous warring states, as was Europe. I suspect ideology was as responsible for China's failure as geography.

* "Religion was not anywhere near as central to the Crusades as is customarily thought to be the case." He cites John Norwich for this point: "the religious motive had been used merely as the thinnest of disguises for unashamed imperialism."

I disagree. Read Pope Urban's fire-brand sermon that launched the First Crusade. The Crusaders set out to defend the Byzantines against Turkish Muslim imperialism, protect pilgrims from robbery and rape, and win back the Holy Land (where Muslims were still probably an occupying minority). All these motives were (in my opinion) both reasonable, and (clearly) infused with religious motivation -- which is probably why we speak English, not Arabic.

* "The historical evidence is conclusive. Religion is not a primary cause of war."

Beale concludes that only 6.92% of wars recorded in the Encyclopedia of Wars were categorized by the authors of that volume as "religious."

Seven percent seems like a lot to me.

But anyway, it seems iffy to cite military experts as authorities on religious motivation. How did they define religion? Why did they leave out the Tai Ping Rebellion in China, one of the bloodiest wars in all history? And by some definitions(mine, for example, also some that Peter Berger cites in The Sacred Canopy), Communism and Nazism are also religions. Those ideologues launched wars enough.

* But Beale criticizes Harris for describing Communism as a religion. This is a poorly-considered argument, because "religion" can be and is legitimately defined in more than one way. By some useful and common definitions, communism is indeed a religion, by others, it is not. Since Beale gives no definition, he is just arguing about words.

Communism was certainly much more than a "political ideology," it was a total view of life that included an atheistic metaphysics, a theory of history, a particular understanding of man as a social and political being, a moral stance (actually, in my analysis in Jesus and the Religions of Man, three separate moral stances that were in conflict with one another), and a call to existential "salvation" for the (non-capitalist) masses. At least for the purpose of talking about how ultimate beliefs lead to (or prevent!) warfare, Communism should be seen as a religion, and compared to other faiths.

In fact, after watching my son play video games for a few minutes, I usually get bored. But this book did manage to hold my interest. That suggests it is a bit deeper than the instinctual fight mode into which it so often lapses. This is not a profound book, but it is a fun one, and at times clever with ideas as well as rhetoric.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book that takes on the popular arguments against belief in God head-on., August 11, 2014
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I found this book extremely helpful. In a world where weak minded people love to reference some incredibly weak arguments made by popular atheists, it was great to read a book that clearly and lucidly describes the problems with their arguments. He also addresses the weaknesses of many popular (but false) arguments against God and religion in general. He also does it in a very entertaining and funny way. The book isn't perfect, but it is quite well written and incredibly well researched. I was amazed at all of the good work he did to present this book for publication.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, thought-provoking, well-reasoned, October 22, 2013
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This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
I am not on either side of the atheist/religionist camp. I have enjoyed some of Dawkins' work (such as The Blind Watchmaker) but personally I do not consider creationism and evolution to be mutually exclusive. Could not a deity, for example, create through evolution?

Likewise, I am keenly aware that on the sentience quotient scale (SQ), which is logarithmic, it is entirely possible for entities to exist that are as much more sentient than humans as humans are more sentient than rocks, meaning we could understand such entities about as well as rocks understand humans. And to such entities, our "science" would be as meaningful as the "science" that rocks formulate is meaningful to us. So the concept of deity falls, in my opinion, within the realm of theoretical possibility without contradicting science.

At the same time, the idea that some person's interpretation of the meaning of an unverifiable deity's words should regulate my choices seems disconnected from reality. I do not appreciate proselyte atheism (which seems more like an intolerant religion than science to me) any more than I appreciate someone informing me that his deity's will is for me to burn in Hell. At the same time, I appreciate that it is difficult if not impossible to create self-referential moral codes and can see both the benefits and harms attributed to both deistic religions (such as Catholicism) and non-deistic religions (such as atheism and feminism).

That having been said, I truly and thoroughly enjoyed this book. A lot. For truly intellectually curious people who don't want to live in an echo chamber, this book is truly thought-provoking in a number of important realms.

As a scientist and engineer, I am keenly aware of the fact scientists and technologists of various sorts are paid every day to apply their skills and knowledge to ethically dubious ends. It is extremely common for such people to adopt an attitude of moral agnosticism and effectively do whatever they are paid to do. Witness, for example, the fact that fields of science gave us nerve gas, biological weapons, Xyklon B and nuclear bombs. It is science that, in the future, may well produce breeds of post-humans that hold mere humans in thrall or create custom humans as slaves. Though followers of deistic religions may well have wreaked havoc, it is only science that holds the promise of efficient and achievable genocide, and the vaporization of untold hundreds of thousands or millions of people in the blink of an eye.

Though this book spends a lot of very entertaining time pointing out the contradictions, inconsistencies and even hypocrisy of self-proclaimed Atheists who make a big deal of their atheism, the major contribution of this book, in my opinion, is at the intersection of science and morality. It takes a deep breath, takes a step back, takes a hard look, and asks meaningful and important questions.

Science and technology are powerful, and their application has profound implications for the nature of human life in the future.

Though the atheist/religionist debate is often framed in terms of a war between reason and mysticism, Vox Day shows the irrationality that likewise underlies atheism -- and then exposes science to the blinding glare of observation and asks the important moral questions.

I consider this book to be important. Very important. It is not particularly important from the perspective of debate, but rather for the questions it raises concerning the junction of science and morality as well as the future of human societies.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This atheist loves the book. Logical refutations (finally!) of atheist talking points., August 15, 2014
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I am an atheist, and I really like this book. Vox Day's style is a direct and a refreshing relief from wheelbarrow loads of empty platitudes.

To summarize the book: "God loves you, but I don't. Here's why blindly following the high priests of atheism is stupid."

The author says (paraphrasing, don't remember exact phrasing):
"This book isn't to convert you or argue in favor of God. I don't care at all if you believe or not. This book is to demolish the atheist arguments."

Although there is no chance I'm going to be converting to Catholicism, or any other sky deity religions, I have to applaud the hard logical reasoning and fresh insights as Vox takes a hammer to the arguments of Hitchens, Dawkins & Harris. It's a refreshing change from all the arguments that boil down to "God exists, therefore God exists".
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389 of 576 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A users guide to logical fallacies., February 4, 2008
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This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
I only managed to read the first 3 chapters of this book. Vox Day employs so many logical fallacies and so much dishonest rhetoric that it's a difficult read.

The author employs ad-hominems against all atheists (atheists are parasites), but reserves especial vitriol against Dawkins (an old grump with asperger's), Hitchens (a drunk), and Harris (an extasy-popper who hasn't finished his Ph.D). This is a good example of going the man, not the argument. By painting all atheists, wrongly, as bad, he hopes he doesn't have to present any argumentation against the atheist position (that there are no gods).

Day also misrepsents the positions the popular atheist authors. He creates straw-men arguments that he can knock down. According to Vox, Dawkins says Vox telling his children that God loves them is worse than child abuse. This a lie. Dawkins has said no such thing as a reading of the God delusion will attest. Vox pretends that Sam Harris would think it ethical to kill him. This is also a lie. That is not Harris' position either. Vox goes on in this vein for quite a while that it's obvious that his claims to truth and fact have been long abandoned.

He attacks science for the way people have used scientific discoveries and attacks scientists for having made these discoveries. This, of course, is the genetic fallacy. The fallacy here, that by attacking the origin of argument, he can avoid making a case to support his point of view.

Vox attacks the enlightenment and science as bringers of violence and intolerance. But he misrepresents both. The Enlightenment wasn't French peasants out to get revenge on the French aristocracy nor Nazis using ancient Christian bigotry to exterminate Jews and science doesn't lead to good or bad acts. It's a method that allows us to better understand the world. What people choose to do with the results of science is a political issue. One that is very pertinent to the case Dawkins, et al make against religious dogma and its influence on our societies.

He redefines science to suit his purposes. He presumes to know more than people who really do know what they're talking about. There are many more problems with only this small sample of the book that I would not recommend the reading any of it.

Perhaps the best that can be said for this book is that it may help students understand better abuses of truth, philosophy and argumentation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Trench Warfare. Acerbic and Funny., August 13, 2014
This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
I bought this the first time I saw it on a shelf in hardcover. I rarely ever buy books on impulse, but this was one of those times. It sat on my shelf for about six years, however. Finally, I had the time to delve into it. The Irrational Atheist is a direct response to “new” atheism that is unlike most other responses (most other significant responses being quite a bit more respectful than Day’s). If you enjoy reading about theological, moral and social issues AND sarcasm, well this book is for you.

Day focuses his arguments in the very thick of the new atheist’s claims. Christian apologists and philosophers have rarely taken these guys seriously, mostly because none of them (except Dennett) deserve to be taken seriously in the realm of philosophy. And while the response of the apologists has been necessary for the churches to hear, none have really focused on some of the “lower” issues. By this I mean issues such as whether or not atheism is gaining converts in the U. S., whether or not religion ‘causes’ war, whether atheists are smarter than non-atheists, whether religion stifles science, etc.

From knowing nothing of Vox Day other than what he has written in his book it’s very obvious that he’s an intelligent man. Imagine Dennis Miller writing a book in response to the new atheists and you will kind of get a glimpse at the wit and humor that comprise this work. These issues of history and social issues seem to be his strong point and he handles them with brilliance. The heart of the book includes detailed chapters into his personal beefs with each of these writers. My guess would be he has the least respect for Sam Harris and the most for Dennett, but Hitchens would be neck and neck with Harris.

The last few chapters discuss various other related issues: the Holocaust, Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, human sacrifice, atheism’s responsibility for the destruction of millions of lives, a chapter on some of the theological arguments used by these writers and an appendix of a discussion between the author and Socrates concerning the Euthyphro dilemma.

If this topic interests you I heartily recommend this be on your shelf. As I said, most Christian apologists or philosophers answer via way of philosophy or theological correction or biblical defenses, all of which are very important. Day prefers to get down in the trenches and battle them head-on, via some literary lex talionis. Not for the faint of heart.
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48 of 72 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Money on This, August 2, 2010
This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
I was looking for a book that would be a kind of "counterpoint" to the favorable review I gave Christopher Hitchens' book some time back, and read this loaner on a friend's recommendation. I am very, very glad I paid no money for this, its grandiose "B Horror Movie" title to one side. I mean, "Unholy Trinity?" But I digress.

I read all of the reviews in this thread as well, hoping that someone might have made a point I missed somewhere, allowing me to be a little more charitable. I am afraid I did not find much to use. I will say that the book is written in a baroque linguistic style many find off-putting but which I rather liked. Day has a powerful vocabulary he uses well, although the prose slides too often into what could be fairly interpreted as self-referential pomposity. But, that too, I think, is not damning. Religion and belief in Western culture have been increasingly framed as private and not communual exercises, so defending this position from a personal perspective is, perhaps, something to be expected and even indulged even if it really advances no argument, pro or con. What I did not like was how the book fails to live up to its title. I found no "dissection" here. For every good point he makes, and there are many, instead of measured follow up, it seems like there is an "a priori" argument or "ad hominem" attack which do nothing but make the author sound petulant and even viciously mean-spirited. This is not even to mention that I have no way of knowing if his tossed-of personal slurs against the people he seeks to engage are even true, and even if so, whether or not they would even matter. From someone writing from a position as a "Christian libertarian," this seems contradictory, even schizophrenic. And the philosophy sections seem to be almost in an unedited state, more ramblings than engagement. And for the life of me, I don't see what trivialities like MENSA memberships have to do with anything, or whether or not someone personally likes or dislikes someone. High school mash notes do as much. This is not a "dissection." This more a "reflection" or some kind of a meditation. "Dissections," in my opinion, are dispassionate even if invasive and unpleasant. And it is the subject that interests me, not the author and his personal peccadilloes. To little of the former, too much of the latter.

I am also increasingly weary of the "logical" arguments each side makes in this debate which degenerate, it seems, into how one person or another's logic is flawed somehow. This is not argument or an attempt to persuade. It is a Hall of Mirrors, and while those are fun for a time, eventually, everyone wants to leave. And given this subject, I am not sure how pure logic, ultimately, would have purchase.

The hostile tone, then, for me, poisons the well and deeply, not to mention the absolute indecision in how to proceed in approach. The end result, I thought, was a casserole of ideas half-baked and then served up cold, the deficiencies in argument covered over with the preening molt of a lesser bird. Such joylessness here, such gloom, such malice, and no effort to engage consistently. What is good about the book is lost in this morass, and that is a shame, because what is good, had it been developed, would have made for a possibly formidable, entertaining, and impressive read.

I have never read Dawkins or Harris, but if you are looking for counterpoints, I think that going to writers like Merton, Chardin, Kierkegaard and even Camus might be the better choices. But not something like this.

A genuine disappointment. Not recommended.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vox takes no prisoners..., January 14, 2014
This review is from: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens (Hardcover)
I read this book a few years ago actually, I really enjoyed it and figured I owed him (since I downloaded it free off his blog) to write a quick review. There is not much to explain here if you are familiar with Vox Day, he takes a sledge hammer the size of his IQ with all the confidence and ferocity and accuracy that he is known for and smashes the arguments of the modern day torch bearers of atheism rather swiftly. If you are an Atheist, you are offended by the mere title of the book, I don't see this book changing your philosophical stance and that's not what it's intended to do. The book is an intellectual challenge to the poorly constructed agruments and unfinished ideas atheists wrap themselves in while they declare the debate about the existence of God is over!

Agnostic? give it a shot, you will be entertained in the least
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sarcasm-laden treat, February 1, 2014
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Vox Day's book succeeds because stays focused on his target, the irrational musings of Dawkins, Dennet, Harris and Hitchens. This is not a book of Christian apologetics. The author does not make any religious arguments nor quote the Bible as an authority. Day simply points out (with a sarcastic wit, I might add) the logical failings of of the authors whom he quotes. It is that delicious sarcasm that makes this book such a good read. Let me quote an example from chapter 4:

"Atheists often express anger and bewilderment at the low esteem in which they are collectively held by the rest of the world. This is a matter of particular frustration for the New Atheists, as they lament the Gallup poll in which it was determined that Americans would rather vote for a toothless, illiterate, homosexual Afro-Hispanic crack whore with a peg leg than a well-qualified atheist with executive hair. That’s a slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it is interesting to note that three years after the publication of the first New Atheist screed, the expressed willingness of Americans to vote for an atheist has declined considerably."

If you enjoy the goring of oxen and the butchering of sacred cows, you will like this book.
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