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Nov 01 2012

Kickass Book: “Why Are You Atheists So Angry!”

You will want this book. I’ll say why in a mo. But I’m talking about Greta Christina’s first, and quite sensational, book that came out earlier this year but is now available at Amazon for the great price of just $9: Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless (or to get the kindle edition click here). I’ve been sitting on this review until that happened, in the hopes of helping boost her Amazon sales rank. Because with this book, she deserves it.

I usually don’t recommend books on my blog unless they are the very best on their topic and I know I can probably defend everything in them (thus many a book I haven’t had time to read carefully is just out of luck, even if it happens to be great). Generally, it has to be a “must have” in its category. And this is one of those. I loved it. In fact it’s awesome. I’ve given her a promotional blurb that accurately describes my opinion and reaction to the book, so I’ll lead with that:

This just became my number-one book to recommend to all believers and new atheists alike. I thought the field of atheist literature was all just rehashing the same stuff by now. But this is an original, visceral, and ultimately complete defense of not just atheist outrage, but atheism itself. Greta sticks to the undeniable facts-on-the-ground and articulates it all correctly and well, heading off every possible rebuttal with brilliant economy. She never gets bogged down in abstract philosophy, yet still hits every key abstract point, leaving you by the end with no rational reason not to agree, and finally kick to the curb that useless old religion, or get off your bum and really do something for the cause. — Dr. Richard Carrier

And I mean it. This really is the best atheist book to give to a new inquirer about atheism (whether already an atheist or a Christian or anyone else), precisely because it leans so well on hard facts all the way through, so it is very informative and illuminating. It also has the standard chapter on why we don’t believe god exists, and it’s one of the most economical presentations of a solid case I’ve seen. A perfect starter for anyone who needs an intro; it’s a model even for veterans to follow.

But the bulk of the book is about why religion should not get a pass; why atheists really do have something to be angry about. And not just something. But nearly a hundred things. Greta even covers liberal Christianity and woo just as much as conservative religion, something that often doesn’t get done in atheist lit. But the liberal goddies get a fair thrashing here. Indeed this is a model example of how to do that. Christina even tied this into a consistent framework about epistemology and consequentialism (and all without using those boring words). I found that cool.

I am not aware of anyone doing a book like this before. Like my blurb says, I would have thought the field of atheist lit was saturated by now, just rehashing the same stuff, or breaking new ground only in specialized topics. But though her initial “list-of-outrages” approach builds on what is a part of many books (usually just a short list or scattered things in an intro or here and there), no one has put it all in stark, complete order like this, hammering it home item after item. It’s really enraging when you see it all in one place; and there really is just no other response possible. That’s especially because of the way she ordered the list–it stymies every standard defense by heading it off before it can brew. I love books that do that. I kept going, “Yeah! Right! And that!” And of course all very well written. Then she just gravy trains it through the rest of the book, knocking down every shibboleth the godists have to try and dodge that main chapter’s devastating point.

There is a great deal in this book that hasn’t been done before, yet should have been. It’s a necessary and useful fighting manual, and should be on every activist’s bookshelf. It will also get you pumped. And arm you with facts and talking points to wield at parties. So I think every atheist, new and old, should read it.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    Richard Martin

    You’re right. It’s an excellent book. I read it back in September. I particularly enjoyed all the rejoinders and arguments she provides for all the counter-arguments religionists are constantly attempting to use to derail atheism.

    Richard Martin

  2. 2
    The Nerd

    This will make a perfect Skepticon surprise for my special someone. Thanks for the review.

    1. 2.1
      Richard Carrier

      Just note that Greta won’t be making Skepticon this year. She had to pull out to recover from surgery.

  3. 3
    Christopher Stephens

    Agreed; I’ve read the electronic version as well, and I’ll be buying many, many hard-copies to hand out to people.

  4. 4
    Jason Goertzen

    Purchased. Thanks for the heads-up and recommendation.

  5. 5
    trucreep

    I think I will pick this up :]

  6. 6
    bobwahler

    You or her can’t disprove God exists any more than I can that He does. So what? My three trillion perfectly cooperating cells, along with an understanding of the unity of all religious teaching (REAL religious teaching, not Christianity) is proof enough to me that he does. Actually seeing a true spiritual Master like I have doesn’t hurt, either. Your opinion may, and evidently does, differ. To each his own. Go bug Republicans or something. That would be useful.

    1. 6.1
      Richard Carrier

      Why don’t you go bug Republicans or something? No one is buying your crazy here.

      But for the non-crazy people reading this:

      Yes, we can “disprove God exists,” in the sense that we can prove any god hypothesis is very, very improbable. See, for example, Richard Carrier, “Neither Life Nor the Universe Appear Intelligently Designed,” The End of Christianity, ed. by John Loftus (Prometheus 2011): 279-304; Sense and Goodness without God IV.2.0-1 and 2.3, pp. 253-57 and 273-75; and Why I Am Not a Christian.

      Read a biochemistry textbook to see why our trillions of cells cooperate (it’s called chemistry, not gods).

      And the notion of a unity of all religious teaching, taken to its proper conclusion (i.e. deleting every item on which any two religions disagree), actually produces atheism. Because naturalistic secular humanism is all that’s left over. I made this point years ago: Sense and Goodness without God IV.2.2.4, pp. 270-75.

    2. 6.2
      bobwahler

      No one buys my ‘crazy’ here because you do need to have a little imagination until your inner sight is opened. Every religion that has its origin in mysticism says that — including Judaism and Christianity, Richard. Read a little outside your sycophants. You would see that RSSB.org titles show all the commonalities that you think do not exist.

      Regarding Atheists and ethics, I would much rather live in a world where the members recognize a higher intelligence which orders consequences for their behavior than one in which EVEN ONE does not, like a Nazi Germany, for example. You want that? What holds misbehavior in check in Atheistic society? Fear of authority? What’s the difference, then?

    3. Richard Carrier

      Ah yes. My inner sight. I need to see my optometrist about that.

      In the meantime, I have glasses for my regular sight and with that I can read documents and they all establish Nazism was primarily a religious, god fearing movement. So you should try using your regular sight and stop trusting that obviously unreliable inner sight thingy.

    4. 6.3
      Colin Frayn

      I love this objection – the subtext here is “You can’t absolutely totally 100% to watertight logical levels of certainty prove that God doesn’t exist, therefore I choose to believe in him.” It always makes me laugh when people like William Lane Craig actually admit in debates that their entire faith is essentially based on a string of utterly unwarranted special pleading. On the plus side, if anyone ever attempts this line of reasoning, you can pretty much safely walk away because they’ve just admitted that their faith is in the same epistemological league as the flat earth and unicorns.

    5. 6.4
      David Olsen

      I want to guess you’re Bahia or maybe Hare. In any event if somebody is using the supposed unity of religious teachings as evidence for the existence of God, they are pretty certain to fail. You realize that that argument is certainly not going to be very successful. I shouldn’t even have to list the problems. But, I can name off at least half a dozen lethal problems and see a dozen or so critical issues on top of those.

      All religions are similar therefore God, has got to be one of the weakest arguments ever.

    6. Richard Carrier

      I should add that Greta actually addresses positions like that in her book. So to anyone like Bob: read it.

    7. 6.5
      LykeX

      No one buys my ‘crazy’ here because you do need to have a little imagination until your inner sight is opened.

      We have plenty of imagination. We just don’t confuse our imaginings with reality.

  7. 7
    bobwahler

    Here is the Abyss where Atheism ultimately leads for many:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4299087,00.html

    1. 7.1
      Richard Carrier

      If that were true, there would be thousands of bombs going off in every city every day.

      Nice try.

      But I call bullshit.

      If we want to compare tendencies to cause atrocities, religion loses the comparison by a vast margin.

  8. 8
    mechtheist

    Dr Carrier, you might want to go a little easier on the poor guy, he’s only got 3 trillion cooperating cells in his body, clearly the other 50 to 100 trillion don’t like their address and want out. It’s doubtful any of the 3 trillion cooperating cells inhabit his skull as we can see by his superb imitation of an anencephalic.

  9. 9
    Colin Frayn

    I completely agree with this review – it’s an outstandingly good book. Extremely clear, logical, concise, and comprehensive. It doesn’t deal in detail with the really academic arguments that some leading apologists put forward, but it covers 99% of objections you are ever likely to encounter, and does so in a way that is strongly compelling. Definitely an excellent book for those on the fence (or even for religious people who are open minded enough to consider that their beliefs should be challenged).

  10. 10
    anbheal

    BobWahler –

    Since both Russia and Poland have right-wing Christian governments, are you saying that either Eastern Orthodoxers or Roman Catholics caused the crash? Or that one of their respective Gods did?

  11. 11
    charlesminus

    Let’s get to the serious stuff. Shouldn’t that be a question mark at the end of the book title?

    1. 11.1
      Richard Carrier

      It is on the book. My blog title just wants to shout.

  12. 12
    standancer

    Bought and read some months ago. Thanks for supporting Greta and her very relevant book.

  13. 13
    Anonymous Atheist

    I just read the first chapter on Amazon and I don’t think I’m going to buy the book. Sure, all the things she lists are terrible, but religion is one of many things that motivates people to do terrible things. Some countries execute atheists, which is an injustice, but in other countries they kill you for belonging to the wrong political party. Should I be angry about politics? The Catholic church chose to cover up child abuse in order to protect the institution, but so did Penn State University. Should I be despise football?

    Presumably you’ve read the book, so my question is this: does she say why, out of all the things that cause injustice, religion is worse?

    1. 13.1
      Richard Carrier

      Maybe you forgot to read the title of the book: it’s why are atheists so angry. Not why are people so angry. Also look at the Table of Contents to see what the book is about.

      It’s a weird reaction to go to a book about atheism and expect it to be about things other than atheism.

      It’s doubly weird to say x doesn’t matter because y is worse.

      Just try it. “Rape doesn’t matter because murder is worse.” Nope, that doesn’t work. “Unjust wages for field workers in New Mexico doesn’t matter because slavery in Chad is worse.” No, that isn’t true either. And so on.

      Now imagine saying “I’m not going to buy a book about the problem of unjust wages for field workers in New Mexico and what to do about it, because slavery in Chad is worse” and you’ll grasp my perplexity.

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