What is “An Atheist Reads”?
“An Atheist Reads” is where I read a book with a spiritual/religious slant and weigh in on whether or not it has merit to its arguments. As of right now, I’m not seeing a lot of merit with what I’m reading.
Today’s book will again be less an in-depth post and more of a review, as the text in question reads like an essay and not a book. In my case, I’m a bit “tardy to the party”, as the book in question is by Chris Hedges. No, it isn’t War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. It’s that other one he wrote, the far more infamous one. Yeah, that.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who spent time in the Balkans during the war. He also wasted both his time–and mine, since I read it–writing a book titled I Don’t Believe in Atheists. (He is also a plagiarist it would seem, but I had no idea of this until I actually did a little Google-fu in regards to his name; it also explains a lot.)
I’m not the first to take on Hedges’ “work”:PZ Meyers certainly has, Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism has along with Butterflies & Wheels as well. This book has been covered in the atheist community quite a bit, for obvious reasons. There are other blog posts that detail its flaws; there are simply a few too many for me to list here. It’s a terrible diatribe, to be quite honest and basically is the equivalent of Hedges pounding on a podium while screaming the same message–with slightly different wording–ad infinitum. To Hedges, science and reason are bad, since they aren’t meant to be moral guidelines and the New Atheists are completely stupid to think otherwise. Also, science and reason aren’t leading us to a Great Utopia as Hedges claims that the New Atheists are asserting.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
I’ll be honest here: I’ve read The God Delusion and God Is Not Great. Neither Dawkins nor Hitchens made any of these claims in those books. If anything, they were pointing out the problems with religion and that science helps us to gain an understanding of the world. In either tome, I did not see a map to some grand and perfect Utopia or that evolution would help us master our animal desires or any of the things that Hedges claims in his book, which is meant to be a counterargument. It’s not a very convincing counterargument, to be honest as Hedges doesn’t back up any of his claims. He simply repeats his arguments as though they are facts and calls it a day. Science is bad because it’s been used by bad people and GMOs might be harmful! Atheists are stupid for trying to look at things logically! But faith is fine because the concept of original sin tells people that they are never going to be omnipotent!
I wish I could say that I am kidding. This is the book in a nutshell.
The truly sad thing is Hedges seems to forget that thanks to science we are living longer. Thanks to reason, gays have the right to marry and slavery is illegal. (Remember, the bible really doesn’t have a massive problem with slavery. Shellfish on the other hand…) Women are allowed to vote. Yet somehow, this isn’t progress to Hedges and I have no idea as to why. But that isn’t the most infuriating thing about this book.
The most infuriating thing? According to Hedges atheists have only shallow knowledge of the bible or Koran. Seriously. They know less than most believers. It was at that point I just rolled my eyes and muttered, “Whatever.”
It took me a grand total of two hours to finish this book. I regret that, as I could have used those couple of hours to do something a bit more constructive with my time, like write a Megatron/Starscream slashfic or something. Anything would have been a better use of my time than trying to process the words that were thrown onto those pages.
Final verdict: Do yourself a favor and never read this, even out of curiosity. There is nothing here that can convince anyone of anything, except that maybe Hedges is jealous of the popularity of some New Atheists and is trying desperately to ride their coattails to get some attention. Other than that, this is just a waste of paper, which is truly sad.