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Book Reviews

Posted by tungtide on July 31, 2008, 1:22 pm

As part of the ongoing development of my disbelief I felt that it would be a good idea to see what other, more prominent, members of the community are writing. Over the last couple months in the limited free time that I have, I’ve read three atheism-related books: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta (see Friendly Atheist).

Both Dawkins and Hitchens are written for an audience that already agrees with them. They take a fundamental stance (not to be compared to Fundamental, as in the belief structure) that assumes atheism should be the default position and continue from there. Dawkins is patient and reasonable in his arguments, avoiding confrontation when necessary, working to build a case that supports atheism as viable world view. Hitchens is more combative and while moderated somewhat in the book, he’s more likely to be forthright and offensive to those who disagree. I’m not saying that either of those books are bad. They do cater to a specific audience and are not likely to be well-received as tools of conversion (if that’s your ultimate goal).

Mehta’s book is different in a very good way. He takes his role as a friendly atheist seriously as he chronicles his journey visiting various churches around the country. The purpose of his initial eBay auction was to see if he was missing something in Christianity after leaving behind Jainism to become an atheist. Hemant enters these churches with an open mind and a notepad, characterizing the good and the bad of churches large, small, and mega.

Again, not a tool for conversion, but rather a great conversation piece. This is the kind of book that can help atheists and Christians understand their common ground and dispel many of the misappropriated beliefs placed on each group.

All in all I would recommend I Sold My Soul on eBay over the other books.

2 Responses to “Book Reviews”

  1. How much did Hemant pay you to write that?

  2. tungtide said

    Absolutely nothing. I think that the audience makes a huge difference in the choice of an appropriate book. Moderate Christians, those people who are on the verge, and even lighthearted atheists will likely fare better with Hemant’s book than the others.

    Because there are much more extreme views in Christendom, the more extreme responses from Dawkins and Hitchens are the better choice in that case. Still, I stand by my statement that their books are written to make us atheists feel good about ourselves without inviting a dialog among atheist and non-atheist communities.

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