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This series of scattershot attacks on all varieties of religion suggests that it’s as pointless to argue with a true nonbeliever as it is with a true believer.

Myers (Biology/Univ. of Minnesota, Morris) is preaching to the choir here, that choir of atheists who have total contempt for “the folly of faith” and who believe that “what religion does is make people believe ludicrously silly things, substitute dogma for reason and thought, and sink into self-destructive obsessions.” Readers need not be believers to find Myers’ position reductive, as it dismisses not only the fundamentalists who are such easy targets for his ridicule, but also fellow scientists who have somehow been able to reconcile their field with their faith. “Science and religion are incompatible in all the ways that count,” he writes. “Science works. Religion doesn’t.” His rigidity permits no tolerance, no sense of wonder at anything that lies beyond human reason, no gray area or shades of interpretation. Even a nondoctrinaire writer on comparative religion such as Karen Armstrong receives rebuke for her “pretentious preciousness” as a former nun who “has rediscovered religion as a nebulous source of vague meaning.” Most of these essays have the length and depth of blog entries, and they mainly seem designed to provoke anyone who isn’t as disdainful as the author. Representative chapter titles include “The Top Ten Reasons Religion Is Like Pornography,” “Afterlife? What Afterlife?” and “The Big Pink Guy in the Sky.” The points Myers makes about religion have been made before, and the humor to which he pays lip service rarely lightens the repetitive load.

Unlikely to change a single mind or cause even the slightest shift in perspective.

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-37934-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013


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