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Playing Chess with Pigeons: A Compendium of Fundamentalist Apologetics and Their Refutations Paperback – June 7, 2013
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About the Author
Chuck Hall became an atheist at the age of 11 after reading the entire Bible for the first time. He has been an author since the 1970s and an atheist since 1971.
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This regional focus has resulted in a book that deals almost exclusively with the arguments put forward by fundamentalist evangelical Christian groups. It includes a chapter on creationism and intelligent design the complete text of the Constitution of that United States of American - a useful tool for dealing with those who insist that this nation was set up as a specifically Christian country.
Since U.S. Bible Belt religion has been vigorously exported to many other nations of the world, the book is a very useful companion for those arguing with missionaries or indoctrinates of this style of religious belief wherever they may reside. The first chapter includes outlines of the usual arguments put forward by such people together with suggestions for countering them. A later chapter outlines the most usual logical fallacies that litter such arguments, and again suggests methods for countering them. Some of these are quite humorous.
After noting that revelations from this type of god never seem to say anything that a poorly educated high school dropout wouldn't know the author suggests that people who claim that they are on speaking terms with some version of this god be asked to provide a solution to Goldbach's Conjecture. An omniscient god should be able to explain to them what this is all about, shouldn't he? What kind of conversation does this person have with their god anyway? Is it all one way? This should be followed by questions about the reason for intercessary prayer. Do these people ask their version of god to change his perfect plan to accommodate their wishes or those of others? Isn't this suggesting that this god is imperfect, that he got it wrong, that he is not very attentive, that his priorities need revising or that his speed of processing is irresponsibly tardy?
The Amazon preview will give the reader some idea of the flavor of this book. What is missing from the preview is a sample of the cartoons that make humorous points throughout the book. Eating a particular brand of candy may make you smile from here onwards if you start to think of it as "rhesus pieces".
The contents are geared towards people who have already come to the conclusion that gods do not exist. It is not the kind of book that I would recommend be given to people who are just beginning to doubt the truth of the beliefs they soaked up before they developed the capacity to critically examine them. It is too challenging and too fear provoking for someone at this level. The usual usual defense from such a person would be to shut up the book and throw it away, not examine it in detail. On the other hand, the material will act as a good reference for someone who is challenging someone like this on a long term, bit at a time, basis. It is sufficiently comprehensive and up-to-date to provide education for even seasoned non-believers in the Abrahamic gods.
I was particularly interested in current archeological view of the authenticity of the biblical record as summarized from an article by Ze'ev Herzog. We learn that there is no evidence that large numbers of Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt, no evidence that the Exodus ever happened and no evidence that there was ever a group of Jews wandering around the Sinai Peninsula at the time the biblical record insists that they were doing so. There is evidence of the existence of people before and after these times but no evidence where and when there should be lots of evidence in existence if the biblical account were correct.
Hall does not provide a proper reference for this material and it took me a little while to track it down. It is worth following up for the additional information that it provides, including the evidence that the main god of the Jews (the Yahweh desert storm and war god) had a consort, Asherah, who was almost, but not entirely, deleted from the pages of the existing text of the Old Testament record. You will also find information about the Walls of Jericho that Christian archeologists insist "prove" that the Bible record is true and modern archeologist say prove just the opposite.
Hall is clear that he did not set out to write a book that includes everything. The book would be unwieldy if he had. It is, however, slightly annoying when such additional information is not easy to track down because the reference is lacking.
You will find the missing material online by searching for a pdf file named "ogtlsraelHerzog". It was published in the Ha'aretz Magazine on October 29, 1999.
In summary, this is a very good little reference book for people who want or need to defend themselves against Christian fundamentalists. Its main failings are less than perfect references, some minor proof reading errors and no extensive index. Recommended.