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When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists Paperback – March 10, 2009


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When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists + American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America + Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416570780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416570783
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Hedges is clear from the outset: there is nothing inherently moral about being either a believer or a nonbeliever. He goes a step further by accusing atheists of being as intolerant, chauvinistic, bigoted, anti-intellectual, and self-righteous as their archrivals, religious fundamentalists; in other words, as being secular versions of the religious Right. Like best-selling atheists Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, Hedges is disgusted with the Christian Right, going so far as to call it the most frightening mass movement in American history. Even more disturbing for Hedges, however, is the notion, which many atheists and liberal churchgoers share, that as a species humanity can progress morally. There is nothing in human nature or human history to support the idea, Hedges maintains, nor that the flaws of human nature will ever be overcome. He discusses the dark sides of the Enlightenment, Darwinism, consumer culture, the justifications for America’s wars (including in Vietnam and now Iraq), and obsession with celebrity, among other equally hot topics. His purpose in this small, thought-provoking book is, he says, to help Americans, in particular, accept the limitations of being human and, ultimately, face reality. --June Sawyers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Chris Hedges reminds us that the point of religion is not to make us disdain those who think differently but rather to help us become decent, responsive, and moral human beings." - 0, The Oprah Magazine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

Chris Hedges is a cultural critic and author who was a foreign correspondent for nearly two decades for The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He reported from Latin American, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for The New York Times coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. Hedges, who holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, is the author of the bestsellers American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist for his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He is a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and writes an online column for the web site Truthdig. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

Customer Reviews

Critique of Chris Hedges book, "I don't believe in Atheists."
Mistheonist
The book was repetitive, much of it had little to do with his thesis, and it was simply poorly written and seemed to be poorly researched and hastily put together.
J. Borga
I think the title of "I Don't Believe in Atheists" is plain stupid.
Donna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

536 of 651 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I might not be the typical reviewer of this book. I am an atheist, but one who is as annoyed as Hedges over the excesses and irresponsibilities of the more dogmatic of "public figure" atheists. But, wait! I gave this book two stars. Why would I give a book whose message I essentially agree with 2 stars?

Well, for starters, I don't agree with much in this book; suprising, because I thought that I would. Of the scores of things Hedges could have challengd these atheists - Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens - on, Hedges manages to miss most of them and add some that are quite illigitimate. Had I written this book, I would have taken the three authors to task on a few things:

a.) their simplistic and baffling view that not only religious extremists, but moderates, are to be condemmed. (Isn't religion a tool? Just as people can do bad with it, so they can do good, depending on their motive?)

b.) these authors occasional faith-driven zeal, that given enough time, sceince will explain all of the things it has tried and failed to explain (like morality, even though science deals with 'is' rather than 'ought' questions. (And don't get me started on the idea of 'memes' as opposed to the older, more sensical, idea of 'ideas.')

c.) These authors' very frequent exhibitions of the type of fanatical extremism and dogmatism they rightly point out as a flaw of their opponents (fundamentalists).

The only of these Hedges hits on is the third. Hedges is not even primarily against atheism. He is, rather, against dogmatism and fanasticism, which he rightly sees exhibited in spades amongst these new 'public figure' atheists.
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156 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Donna on March 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Interesting that all of the reviews posted so far are either 5 star or 1 star. It seems that people are rating the book based on whether agree with what the author has to say or not. That is no way to judge a book. A book can be excellent even if don't agree with one conclusion the author comes to, and a book can be poorly written even if you agree with every word in it.

I think the title of "I Don't Believe in Atheists" is plain stupid. Beyond that, Hedges has some very interesting things to say about the interaction of religion (and nonreligion) with politics, and it's worth reading by anyone who has read any of the other recent literature about atheism.

But Hedges did himself a disservice by framing the book as a critique of Dawkins, Harris, etc. because in many cases he's totally misrepresenting what they wrote. He should have just stuck to writing his own ideas on the topic, as he has in his other books, and this book would have been much better. As it is, it just sounds like he's mad because the so-called "New Atheists" don't like what he believes in. Hedges is a better writer -- and thinker -- than that. It's a shame he didn't do his best writing in this book. But, then again, believers tend to become irate when people insult their gods.

I saw a debate between Chris Hedges and Sam Harris on this topic on TV a few months ago, and Hedges was completely incoherent. I had read some of his other writing (books and online) in the past and was hoping he'd do a better job in writing about this topic than he did in debating it.

Oh well. I bet his publisher was pushing him to rush his book to market. Too bad.
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217 of 278 people found the following review helpful By LindaT VINE VOICE on March 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My interest in this book came from a nasty experience in college some years ago. I was talking about Christianity and its effect on my life. Apparently my views were too conservative and/or orthodox to suit two people I was talking to. They started to get in my face and insist that I was wrong. No matter what I said, they would take turns interrupting me and insisting that I was wrong and that Christianity had "changed," and that I needed to change with it. That I had been raised in the home of an ordained minister and had just about cut my teeth on a Bible didn't matter - to them, I didn't know that I was talking about and they wouldn't listen. I was bothered by this - not so much that they didn't agree with me, but that they wouldn't listen, and at one time they were almost shouting and backing me up against a wall - literally! Later on I thought, "If a so-called "fundamentalist" Christian had acted like that, they would have had his/her head on a platter!"

When I first found this book, I wondered if Chris Hedges had the same type of experience I did. Probably not - but his message rang true.

In my opinion, the title of this book is misleading. Hedges doesn't necessarily disapprove of atheists, if they have reached their position with an honest heart. His issue is with the "fundamentalist mentality" which he claims can happen as much with atheists as with believers in God.

This book contains a badly-needed two-fold message. First of all, that we need to come back to the idea of human corruptibility - a truth that we don't need to be Christians to accept. The other part both religious and non religious people need to reject the idea that we can perfect ourselves.
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