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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next phase after Dakins/Hitchens et al., December 18, 2008
This review is from: Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided (Hardcover)
I just finished reading this book, and it's terrific. It goes beyond the debunking of religion books to discuss how we go about understanding the world and society, and our place in both without the use of religious references, explanations and thought processes. It presents a very positive and liberating view of a truly secular worldview - a better world. I highly recommend it to those who liked the debunking books, and also to those with religious beliefs who recognize the need for and benefits of a humanistic/secular society.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 19, 2008 9:50:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 21, 2008 8:29:11 AM PST
JOHN A S says:
I am interested in going beyond the debunkers as well. So without God what is the meaning and direction of life. Does it really suck to get old and die in pain even if you lived a good life and cared about others? Who is this author and what qualifies him to write on this subject?

EDIT: Ok, with a little more work on my part, I guess I partially answered my own question. In a review of his earlier book After Marxism he is described by the Democratic Left as "He is [a] solid New Left philosopher." How does this qualify him - I don't know. I'm not sure that anyone is really qualified to write about what comes "after or without religion." The New Atheists are all great at criticizing Christianity, but they never seem to discuss the anthropology and psychology of religion and how people can't seem to do without it. I really wonder if this book can adequately address this question?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2009 11:25:57 AM PST
absoprob says:
Looking forward to reading this one.

I think some of John A S's comments need addressing. I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume the questions are genuinely asked.

>So without God what is the meaning and direction of life?
Great question, variations on which have challenged thinkers throughout the ages from Socrates onwards (although for many pre-'religions-of-the-book' philosophers it wasn't necessarily 'without God' - just that their concept of god left them free to enquire into these questions themselves). I'd recommend A.C Grayling 'What is Good?' for an overview.

>Does it really suck to get old and die in pain even if you lived a good life and cared about others?
Probably :) But fear of death (or of a painful death) is no reason to turn one's back on reality. I suspect questions of integrity on reflection of one's life come to everyone who has time to contemplate before death. It's not the exclusive domain of atheists!

>I'm not sure that anyone is really qualified to write about what comes "after or without religion."
I'd suggest anyone who has experienced life without religion, who thinks about these things, who may wish to look at the potential impact of a higher proportion of world population living with one's own values - and, of course, who is able to write coherently. It may be easier to imagine if you swap the critical phrase to 'with religion'. It's the same in terms of who is qualified.

> The New Atheists are all great at criticizing Christianity
I'd dispute this with you. Considering how easy it is to debunk, there's very few that do it in a straightforward, dispassionate way. I think most atheists find it hard to write about religion without expressing some form of anger or despair that its influence in the 21st century is still so large and that it has such a negative effect on so many people's lives and has a real potential to annihilate us in the next few decades.

> ...and how people can't seem to do without it.
There are very many people who do very nicely without it :) What I suspect you're saying is you can't imagine how you yourself would manage without religion. The answer to that is probably a lot better than you think. An ethical, fulfilling, joyous life for an atheist appears to be something Christians commonly simply can't get their heads around. If your beliefs from your book provides you these things how can someone who rejects the book have these things? If you really want answers, I have read Grayling and can recommend that. Not sure about this author but my money's on Eric Maisel in his latest book 'The Atheist's Way' having something significant to say too on these matters. (And Maisel seems to be able to write without appearing to have a bee in his bonet!)

Posted on Feb 14, 2009 9:55:00 AM PST
Dick Marti says:
Presumably you mean Dawkins, not "Dakins".

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 30, 2009 1:21:31 PM PDT
David says:
Discovering "without God what is the meaning and direction of life" was the life work of Sartre among many others. I would recommend "Encountering Naturalism" by Thomas Clark for a succinct but detailed answer -- if it was more than an empty rhetorical question?

As to "...Atheists are all great at criticizing... but.. never seem to discuss the anthropology and psychology of religion and how people can't seem to do without it..." again you seem unaware of the literature which includes a number of books by humanists like Paul Kurtz, or (ahem) my own "Secular Wholeness", and you might look at Dennett's "Breaking the Spell" which is very specifically about "anthropology and psychology of religion" from an atheist standpoint.

Posted on Dec 28, 2010 6:59:26 AM PST
C. E. Selby says:
I think John A. would benefit from reading works by Sartre, Proust, Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare... The list would be nearly endless. Existentialism it is called. We create our own distinct paths. I think of the ironic Robert Frost who is so often misread and mistaught, i.e., "The Road Not Taken" is not about finding the right road but about how all choices are random. And in "Provide, Provide," "Nothing keeps the end from being hard."
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