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Monday, February 04, 2008

The Irrational Atheist -a review of the book by Vox Day.

You know the dream.

You are walking down a dark alley. It's been raining, and there's steam rising from grates in the pavement. The rain has been sufficient to mask the difference between puddles of rain and little cisterns of dumpster juice, so you don't want to drop your briefcase.

Then you hear the footsteps behind you, the sound quickening, becoming louder as you increase your pace. You begin to pelt down the alley - how long do they build alleys, anyway? - running blindly, dodging cats and trashcans. You begin to turn over the cans in a vain attempt to impede your pursuer. The sound behind you changes; you don't hear running feet tripping over your obstacle course. You hear ...a metallic grinding sound growing closer, the smell of hot oil fills your nostrils as you dare to glance behind you.

You awake with a shout to a dark room and a sweat-soaked pillow, the memory dimming but still there.

That's the way it is with atheists and Vox Day's The Irrational Atheist. The atheist is the runner, who turns around to see, not a mugger, but an M-1 Abrams tank.

Vox's attack on the hucksters of illogic is a devastating one, using reason to counter the arguments of the tooty triad of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, rather than flinging around a Castlevania-style Bible on a chain. My first reaction would have been "But, Vox, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation...." But the real response would appear to be:

"If they don't believe IN God, then they won't hear what God putatively SAYS."

Vox is on solid ground, here. The apostle Paul met the intellectuals of Athens on their turf, reasoning with them, and even quoting from the poetry of one of their own. I am reminded of Yahweh's invitation to His people through the prophet Isaiah: "Come let us reason together.".

I especially appreciate his libertarian bent, allowing a person to believe or not, then showing how the Mighty Trio are not so benevolent. They are apparently fine with your believing whatever you want, so long as it agrees with their disbelief.

Vox's estimation of their wrong-headedness is epic:

I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.
You make the call.

...and he's just telling us the WHY of the book.

Vox meets the New Atheists on their own battlefield, bringing a marshalled army of facts and mathematics to bear on the G.I.Joe toys of his opponents. The miasma of burning hair fills the air as he torches the popularized wooly thinking of these worthies. The demolition of the classic "religions cause war and death" is worth the price of admission.

Despite the pretensions of the New Atheists, their books are "popular" in precisely the sense that Tim Lahaye's books are popular. They would feel at home in a Bizarro-world Zondervan bookstore. Vox's book requires thought. Rather than being an emotional lashing-out at Dawkins & Co., TIA brings the brain and logic to bear on "to God or not to God" Don't expect a cotton-candy feel-good approach. Good times are to be had as you read, but be careful. As Cos says:"Maybe you'll even learn something.".

Vox Day's The Irrational Atheists draws the reader ineluctably to the conclusion that the arguments of the self-professed "brights" are in fact quite dim. Buy it, read it, then buy another for your local library.

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