Tag Archives: Religion

Criticising Religion – Why Not Let Them Be?

27 Nov

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

– George Bernard Shaw

People sometimes ask me why I criticise religion. They ask me why I don’t just take the attitude of live and let live.

Because of nasty shit like this and this and this and this and this and this and this and especially this and certainly this. And that’s just taking one version of one religion.

Because religions are just stories and they can be criticised like any other stories.

Because religions are ideas and they can be criticised like any other ideas.

Because religious prophets, messiahs, gurus and the like are just people and what they say can be criticised like anything said by any other person.

Because religious people seem to think they can impose their ideas and “morals” on society, on government and on children.

Because religious people persecute others who don’t hold to their views.

Because basing your life on a book crammed full of heinous immorality is neither good for a person nor for society.

Granted most religious people I know largely cherry pick the nice bits from their religion, but most carry at least some nasty views, and the more fundamentalist types take the whole thing literally. Most religious people are moderate but they pave the way for extremists when they say that faith is a good thing, that believing in something with no evidence is a virtue. This is a toxic idea.

Some of the religious explain away the more ludicrous stories – such as magic fruit and talking snakes – as metaphorical, and they try to ignore the nastier ideas in a similar vein, claiming they’re allegorical, or by arguing that they only apply in a limited context (a fun demolition of the contextual approach is here). The problem is that this pick and mix approach is not taken by all adherents and many do take these ideas literally.

For example the islamic holy book says infidels should be killed; some people will go ahead and do it as their faith in the sanctity of their holy book means they must.

Then the christian holy book says gays should be stoned to death; some people will go ahead and do it as their faith in the sanctity of their holy book means they must.

And I couldn’t leave out the jewish holy book which repeatedly advocates genocide; some people will go ahead and do it as their faith in the sanctity of their holy book means they must.

This assumption that religion provides us with morals – as well as being absurd – is pernicious and dangerous for society.

There’s an assumption floating around these days that saying something about religion is angry, extreme or militant because we have this unwritten social rule that we don’t criticise religious belief. But it’s not, because when you listen to the criticisms it is actually logical and rational to say that religion is silly, and further that it should have no bearing on our moral decisions.

As one brave atheist said: “When I realized that there was nothing out there to redeem me, or tell me how to live, or that I needed to obey, I began to take true responsibility for myself. I sought to examine my thoughts and actions more carefully, and established a morality based on reason and humanity.

Stephen Fry passionately said: “We must remember that the church is very loose on moral evils because – although they try to accuse people like me, who believe in empiricism and the enlightenment, of what they call moral relativism, as if it’s some appalling sin whereas what it actually means is thought – they, for example, thought that slavery was absolutely fine, absolutely okay and then they didn’t. And what is the point of the catholic church if it says ‘oh we couldn’t know better because nobody else did’. Then what are you for?!

Education is a big one here. The religious continue to try to indoctrinate children in one third of state funded schools in the UK. This is bad for children and society on so many levels. It encourages segregation. It stifles healthy learning and development. Children should be taught critical thinking and logic in a secular and rationalist environment. They should be taught to ask questions, to be critical about every idea they are taught. They should not be taught what to think but how to think. Anything less is to abrogate our responsibilities to children. Yet astoundingly the UK government is encouraging more of these schools, where it’s okay to dismiss a teacher if they don’t conform to certain beliefs or based on their marital status, where it’s okay to refuse a child on the grounds of whether their parents believe in a fairy tale, where homophobic attitudes are aired and where healthy sex and relationship teaching is withheld. Still, at least in this country they think it’s okay to educate kids, unlike others.

Then many countries are introducing new laws against blasphemy. Blasphemy is essentially criticising, or not showing enough respect for, a religion or a religious figure. There are far too many atrocious examples of such laws being used. Many even want the UN to impose an international law against it. After all, the bible dictates death to blasphemers.

The idea that a being with supernatural powers is so sensitive to criticism that it needs such ludicrous laws is obviously very silly. More seriously, the sensitivity of the religious to criticisms of their beliefs, and the ends to which they will go to silence critics of their views, is on its own reason enough to justify my critical position.

Many people argue that I should ‘respect’ people’s religious beliefs. This is ridiculous as I patently have no respect for religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot respect a person. One must separate respect for a person from respect for their beliefs.

So in conclusion I defend religious freedom but not religious privilege. I defend the right of anyone to hold a view and discuss it in public, but I will not stand by when views I consider wrong are imposed on others. And I stand up for my right to criticise views with which I disagree.

Islam – Whose Story?

17 Nov

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
– The Hitch

After watching the documentary “Islam – The Untold Story” (here’s my quick overview) I went to a debate about the issues raised by the film, organised by some islamic organisations. The panelists were:
– Tom Holland, the novelist and historian who made the film
– Sajjad Rizvi, a professor of islamic history
– Rokhsana Fiaz, director of the Coexistence Trust
– Kevin Sim, the director of Holland’s documentary.

Holland began by talking about himself, what interests him, and how he got onto the topic of the origins of islam. Usually, he said, it would take 3 years for him to study an area and then produce a book with his findings, but this project took 5 years given its complexities and the lack of historical evidence available. While he seemed to be avoiding the core issues, he did attempt to separate the issue of faith from the historical origins of islam and the Arabic conquest.

Rizvi then spoke, attacking “revisionists”; he insisted he wasn’t directing his comments at Holland although it was very clear that he was. It became rather ad hominem, with attacks on his motives rather than addressing the points in his documentary. He was essentially answering the question posed in the title of the debate ‘Whose Story?’ with: ‘It’s ours. You’re not allowed to question it‘. The best answer to that is given in this clip: “islam claims that it is the total solution to all human problems, and the sooner that it’s imposed on everyone the better. Well, that’s a point of view. But if it’s going to make such claims, it has to drop the demand that it be immune from criticism and especially from satire.

Fiaz tried to downplay the reaction to the film by saying that the level of complaints to Ofcom about the documentary was initially low. However she then went on to say that Ofcom had a responsibility to protect the sensibilities of the religious. Ofcom state that they have a legal duty to ensure that “people who watch television and listen to the radio are protected from harmful or offensive material”. Of course this is a ludicrous proposition given that offence is in the eye of the beholder and, like section 5, this kind of approach gives people the right to censor views they don’t like under the pathetic cover of the offence argument.

Holland made the curious claim that the christian literary tradition has always had a rather harsh questioning approach, particularly because of the need to harmonise the contradictory events described in the four gospels, whereas the islamic tradition is a lot less critical. He said this is why we’ve ripped away the foundations of the christian religion in the west. I can’t disagree that this has happened, but I would question whether this is due to a peculiarly christian mindset. I’ve read a bit of the fun loving Omar Khayyam, the muslim polymath who was openly critical of islamic norms, and on the other side there is the obvious example of the inquisition. He then went on to say something more important: because the koran and islam are being put under increasing scrutiny and criticism, the foundations of believers will be increasingly challenged. He diplomatically suggested that muslims must decide how they are going to react to this trend.

While people were quick to point out that they didn’t sanction death threats or violence of any kind, there were snarky and sometimes angry argumentum ad hominem attacks from far too many of the muslim members of the audience. There were accusations of Holland talking nonsense, of a poor quality or “rather pathetic” documentary, of an attitude of superiority and there was even an accusation of him suggesting that Arabs were backward. It got a bit silly.

What I didn’t hear, at any point of the debate, was someone question either his historical evidence, or the conclusion he tentatively proposed in the film.

This was disappointing as I was hoping for the case to be made for the traditional view. Alas the counter argument I heard can be crudely simplified into two parts: i) attack the messenger; ii) well it just is, why would anyone question it? Being from a religious background I can understand this reaction from people that base their world view not on empiricism, but on faith.

After scouring the web for counter arguments I found a lot more vitriol along similar lines. After all, Channel 4 did cancel a repeat screening due to a death threat. However I did find that the Islamic Education and Research Academy has put forward some more comprehensive opposing arguments. Some of their rebuttal seemed silly, such as their justification of the reliability of the oral evidence. I’ll be honest and say I’m stepping into an area I know little about, however comments such as “the entire science of Hadith” seem to contradict what muslim friends have told me about how they pick and choose which parts of the Hadith they prefer and dismiss the rest as “unreliable“. That said it cites some interesting pieces of evidence from non-muslim sources, as well as opposing views from other historians, and I’d like to hear what Holland has to say about these.

The point I agreed with most during the debate was from a muslim chap on the front row who roughly said: “ideas should be open to criticism. Debate and criticism are important parts of a democratic and pluralistic society. If we truly believe that islam is the truth then we should be happy for it to be questioned as it will only strengthen it.

Islam – The Untold Story by Tom Holland

15 Nov

“People talk about Islamophobia [but] the real Islamophobia … is to assume that if you say anything that might be controversial or upsetting to Muslims, they might come and kill you.”
– Tom Holland

After the furore surrounding Tom Holland’s documentary Islam – The Untold Story I thought I’d check it out (note this is not the more controversial Innocence of Muslims film). Here’s a quick overview:

He presented the investigation within the construct of a personal journey, no doubt to have his audience empathise with him more and minimise any backlash. He says he started out with an interest in the origins of the Arabian – and at some point Islamic – empire that conquered both the Persian and Roman empires. He set out to answer the question: “The muslim conquest has little evidence. What can we say about Mohammed, what do we know about the origins of islam?

He was surprised to find that there was minimal historical evidence from the 7th century when Mohammed lived, saying that the first evidence of Mohammed was on coins 60 years after his death. He says the Koran was written too long after the death of Mohammed so it’s an unreliable source, as well as being a biased account.

He spent too long sensitively setting the scene with comments to soften up the listener such as Guy Stroumsa saying “Sometimes the belief of the believer and the understanding of the scholar cannot be squared” and historian Patricia Crone saying “There’s a choice between doing the history and not doing the history, and so I do the history even though it may hurt some people”.

His question then became more refined; Bedouin Arabs swept out of the desert in the 7th century and conquered half the world. Muslims now say it was all on the back of islam and the prophet but Holland questions that.

The Arabs say it started “In a mountain cave [where Mohammed] heard the voice of an angel. The message: ‘There is only one god. Mohammed is the prophet of god. Islam is submission to god’. And it was this message that gave them an empire… or was it? No one doubts the conquest took place but the question is: was it because of islam?

Crone says of Mohammed: “We know that he existed. We know that he was active in Arabia. We know that he’s associated with a book the Koran. But we have absence of evidence. We have the Koran but we can’t tell the story on the basis of the Koran.

Five years after the death of Mohammed the Arab conquest took Jerusalem from christians. “The conquered residents knew the invaders believed in one god, but what were the details? Nobody had any notion that the Arabs were doing what they were doing in the name of a freshly minted and coherent religion, still less that what they were doing was in the name of islam”. The new Arab rulers were closer to the Jews – they began praying on the ruins of the Jewish temples, rather than the christian ones. Both christians and Jews were still practising in Jerusalem decades after this invasion. In fact, the christians suspected a Jewish source behind the invasion of the Arabs. The Jews hoped that the Arab invaders would enable them to get their holy places back. They began to believe they were messianic, hoping they would be liberated.

The next section questioned the evidence for Mecca being the birth place of Mohammed. There is “only a single ambiguous mention of Mecca in the Koran, or indeed in any single datable text for over 100 years after Muhammed’s death”. The Koran never states that Mohammed lived in Mecca or that he received his revelations there. It mentions a sanctuary but doesn’t say where it was. He says that most historians are equivocal on its location.

So here is how he interprets the evidence:

This Arabian empire was big and there were fights over who had the right to rule it. In 680 (50 years after Mohammed’s death) Abdullah Iben al Zabayyah laid a claim to the empire but was beaten. Holland theorised that this warlord realised that the Roman empire used religion to “buttress power”. This warlord got defeated, but his defeater Abd al-Malik saw this idea then claimed it as his own and used it to consolidate his power. He built a holy building, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem over the old Jewish temple, also holy to the christians, which is very telling as he was saying that his rule is divinely sanctioned. Then over time he and others built the stories and traditions around the prophet. Holland also proposed that islam’s birthplace and the hajj were moved by the Caliph Abd al-Malik. It was about power.

Holland is clear to say that this is a theory, but a theory that fits the sparse evidence better than the islamic traditions.

After watching it I was very surprised by the response. He was so sensitive it was ridiculous: he tiptoed around the issues, and was very humble in his presentation. He made it clear that his conclusions were simply his best interpretation given the historical clues available, nothing more.

So it is an interesting documentary that questions the received opinions about the origins of islam. It’s very slow moving and takes its time to get to the core message, but then most TV documentaries are dumbed-down these days. It’s worth a watch if you’re interested in the history of the time.

The following post gives an overview of a debate I attended to discuss the issues raised by this film…

Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Belief

24 Jun

For goodness sake, when will the christians quit whining about persecution, when the real issue is that they’re slowly losing the power to persecute others?

Besides, they still have far too much power:

Their main organisation is part of the state. They have permanent seats in parliament. They have a say in legislation as self-appointed religious leaders are so often consulted by legislators and government committees. They have tax breaks. They have chaplains that proselytise in schools, hospitals and the army paid for by the tax payer. They have the bloody queen. They even have capitalisation in spell checkers!

As far as I’m aware we’ve not had an atheist prime minister in the UK or an atheist president in the US. Sadly it seems it’s not considered to be a vote winner.

From the Boston Standard

The latest silly christian censorship story is best described in this witty post. In short, a pensioner has had a little sign in his window for the last few years that says “Religions are fairy stories for adults”.

Fair enough you might say, churches often have much larger billboards telling us we’re doomed to an eternity of fire-based torture if we don’t sign up, but no, apparently the coppers had a quiet word with John here and told him to take it down.

The Lincolnshire Police backtracked with this weasel-worded statement, but it’s a bit late now.

Christians whinge about not being able to discriminate against homosexuals, and whine about not being able to withhold contraception from people that need it. This is persecution?!

Thankfully the christian-only blasphemy laws were (belatedly) repealed in 2008 otherwise I could in theory be prosecuted for promulgating such heretical views. It was only 400 years ago that people were last burnt at the stake in England for disagreeing with the church’s dictated beliefs.

So I was a christian in my youth, and thankfully I was able to extricate myself from the belief system. It wasn’t easy as this is how I was brought up and how I thought. My life was based on these beliefs and christendom was my world. But thankfully things have moved on in the christian west in the last few centuries thanks to the many brave luminaries of the enlightenment, so these problems are piffling compared to what they used to be. I can’t imagine having to do what I did under threat of jail or even death by fire.

However that’s what many muslims still have to go through should they start to exercise their grey matter.

Thankfully we’re a long way ahead of other countries. Indonesia have just fined and jailed Alexander Aan for stating his atheistic belief on facebook. In Kuwait, Hamad al-Naqi has just got ten years hard labour for his twitter posts – thankfully the Emir did not allow the death penalty to be added to the new legislation, but it was close.

I tell you, if Orwell was around he’d have a thing or two to say.

In a debate I saw recently, Sam Harris said that “A recent poll in the UK showed that a third of British muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death for apostasy. 68% of British muslims think that their neighbours who insult islam should be arrested and prosecuted. 78% think that the Danish cartoonists should be brought to justice. These people do not have a clue about what constitutes a civil society.” This poll was not taken in Iran; it was carried out in the UK. Sheesh.

As a result I’ve recently started to support these very brave people: the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Here’s their manifesto. Here is their donation page.

PZ Myers – Sacking the City of God

20 Jun

I recently enjoyed watching this video of PZ Myers, atheist extraordinaire, and thoroughly affable chap.

In it he discusses how we atheistic, rationalist, freethinking types can pull down the edifice of religion.

He starts with a nice theme. He says that “in the beginning was the word” is not right. First came the blood; blood used to knit people together with a common identity. Support for your kin meant you, or at least your genes, survived. Then the king or pharaoh was the symbol of your identity, and looked after your welfare. But kings died. Next was the city as it out-lives the leaders – get behind the city and you prosper. But cities like Rome fell. So then came ideas. People rally around ideas. This is why christianity has done so well.

He quotes Evey in the film V For Vendetta: “We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love…

However, ideas can be beaten with other ideas.

Christians, even more moderate ones, “believe in some outrageous bullshit. The christian myths of a virgin giving birth to a god who dies are illogical lunacy. And the christian doctrines of original sin and redemption through blood sacrifice by proxy are crippling psychopathological abominations.

He says he sees three principles emerging among atheists: Truth, Autonomy and Community (though he’s quick to point out that he’s not forcing any of his principles on anyone as that would be to fall into the immoral approach of the religious).

Atheists seek the truth – evidence based rather than belief. We want to know how things work by testing, by looking at evidence. That’s science. We don’t say we’ve already decided how it works because it says so in a mythical story. We don’t say that’s how it works because that’s how we want it to be – that’s just wishful thinking.

Autonomy, as we freethinkers are all different and have a wonderful mix of ideas, backgrounds and personalities. We are where we are because we reject the orthodoxy, we are weirdos and outcasts, we are not sheep. For many years we have been in the minority, “often feeling alone in seeing through the god-awful babble of the church“. We detest people that try to impose rules on us. “People should be free to be who they are with impunity“.

The thing is there are more and more people standing up and speaking out against the taboo topic of the immorality and danger of religion. We are not all geeky nihilists, though there may be some that are part of the community. There are diverse atheistic groups, whether on the internet, or at atheist and freethinker conferences. There is power in community and together we can work better to “free minds from the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth” (to borrow from Morpheus).

I recommend his blog, where he features regular descriptions from people on why they are an atheist. It seems his mission is to make us superstition-deniers feel we’re not alone, that there are many of us out there, sharing the same core view that we are able to throw off the shackles of religion and move forward to a more grown up way of thinking.

Tube Talk

26 Apr

So I was sat on the train on the way home, reading my magazine and eating a sarnie, when a young chap sat next to me.

The unthinkable happened: he tried to initiate a conversation with me.

The chap started by asking how I was doing. “Fine” I replied, and returned to my reading, signalling an end to the exchange.

Did I have a good night? “Yes. Thanks.” I answered tersely, hoping he would get the message, and took another bite from my sandwich.

He continued to try to engage with me and get past my Londoner’s cynicism. I gave him nothing much to go on, as I felt a slight intuition that there was some kind of agenda behind his stilted attempts at conversation.

Eventually my nice side took over as he seemed harmless enough and I asked him where he’d been: “at a wedding”.

“In jeans?” I queried.

“It was a Nigerian wedding and I don’t have any of the traditional dress.”

Hmm.

And then he said: “So. I was wondering…”

“Here it comes” I thought.

“…do you believe in Jesus?”. A few wry smiles appeared from others around us as they empathised with my plight.

I dismissed him saying “Ahhhhh, I wondered what was coming. Listen I’m really not interested.” poignantly shook out my magazine and started reading again.

“The reason I ask”, he persisted “is that I’m a christian”.

And as he continued, I tried to ignore him, knowing that if I answered his proselytising he really wouldn’t enjoy my reply.

But as he went on, my resolve to spare him continued to weaken. I tried one last time to fend off his advances, but to no avail: “Seriously”, I warned him, “you’re talking to the wrong person”.

And when he said “I want you to be happy. God wants you to be happy.” I couldn’t hold back.

“Listen”, I began, “how can you claim to know what god wants? Who are you to say you speak for the creator of the universe? Did an angel appear to you to tell you what god thinks? Did he rearrange the clouds in the sky to spell out a message? Did a big booming voice speak out from nowhere?”

“God speaks to me” he interjected.

“Seriously?”

“We have a relationship” he asserted. At this point people had forgotten any pretence of ignoring what was going on and were openly staring, clearly enjoying the entertainment.

“You’re telling me”, I softened my voice “that you hear voices in your head?”

“Yes” he replied, weakly.

“If it wasn’t for the fact that what you’re saying is based on a two thousand year-old tradition, you do know what people would say to you, don’t you?”.

He didn’t manage to find an answer to this and simply nodded mutely.

Alas the train arrived at my stop, so we couldn’t continue. I wished him a good evening and stood up to leave.

As I was heading for the door a girl with a wide smile tugged on my sleeve and showed me a book she was reading entitled something like “Talking With God”, the subtitle describing the book as a psychologist’s view on such claims from the religious. We shared a giggle as I left the train and headed off home.

God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

19 Apr

This is a good book to explore some of the arguments around gods existence, the nature of religion and its effects on people.

The reader is left in no doubt as to his view given the subtitle of the book: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Not as good as watching the Hitch debate live mind. If after reading the book and watching him talk you can remain religious then you clearly must have a screw loose (I recommend the second link – he summarises the book in 10 minutes).

The Hitch (PBUH) calls himself an anti-theist rather than an atheist; a distinction I enjoy.

I heartily agree with most of what he says. I’ve noticed more and more the egregious lack of morals in the biblical stories and the principles espoused therein. Although most Christians (by necessity) cherry pick the nice bits and close their ears to the downright nasty bits, I think it’s important to point out the fact that it condones slavery, selling your daughter, rape, genocide, ritual slaughter of animals, human sacrifice and torture; whether that be to appease god or to punish non believers for all eternity. Indeed the idea that we have the choice to follow god, and then choose not to take that option then deserve the eternal damnation that Jesus first introduces, it is scandalous to claim the christian god is all loving, all powerful and all knowing. Further, if he already knows the future and the choices we will make, he has therefore created us knowing that we will make that choice. Pretty immoral.

And so if people truly do follow the claims of the belief system, and believe the bible to be the word of god, i.e. get a bit fundamentalist, then we’re in for a rough ride.

He argued that putting threats of eternal punishment behind these religious moral exhortations rather devalues them – surely we should do it out of a better motive.

And then christians can somehow claim that the morals and laws in society come from religion. (Granted some come from the church trying to maintain power and control.) In fact, in the fourth century, when christianity was being codified, they borrowed largely from the Stoics. I would argue that most decent laws come from our natural instincts as humans to figure out rules to work together as a society, i.e. we have a moral society not because of religion, but in spite of it.

I think The Hitch could have pushed this point more strongly in his book; he does this to great effect in his debates.

That said, most of the arguments were great, and added to the already big armoury of anti-christian arguments that are fairly obvious to anyone that takes the time to read even a small part of the bible with an open mind. He does it with wit and erudition without getting ranty and so it is an enjoyable and educational read.

His treatment of the assertion that atheistic regimes can also be pretty abhorrent (Russia, Cambodia, Nazi Germany et al) could have been stronger; he draws parallels between the ideologies of these regimes and religion and shows that religious people and organisations didn’t condemn then, and even supported them. He could have done a lot better than that, for example mentioning that Hitler was a christian and his interpretation of christianity was a central motivation for his antisemitism. He could have also used an argument that I prefer: mentioning that Hitler was a vegetarian and by the same ‘logic’ could say therefore vegetarianism leads to evil. Or he could have just shown this cartoon which says it nicely. “Saying that you believe in atheism is like saying you believe in maths. Hitler and Stalin didn’t go to war in the name of atheism, much like they didn’t go to war in the name of fractions or prime numbers.

Again, in his debates he puts forward the excellent two questions:

First, you have to name for me an ethical action or an ethical statement or moral action or moral statement made or undertaken by a believer that I couldn’t undertake or say, I couldn’t state or do. I haven’t yet had an example pointed out of that to me. In other words, that a person of faith would have an advantage by being able to call upon divine sanction. Whereas if I ask you to think of a wicked act undertaken by someone in the name of God or because of their faith or a wicked statement made, you wouldn’t have that much difficulty, I think, in coming up with an example right away. The genital mutilation community, for example, is almost exclusively religious; the suicide bombing community is almost exclusively religious; there are injunctions for genocide in the Old Testament; there are injunctions, warrants for slavery and racism in the Old Testament too. There’s simply no way of deriving morality and ethics from the supernatural. When we come to the question of the absolute, well, the most often cited one is the Golden Rule, the one that almost everyone feels they have in common. The injunction not to do to others as you wouldn’t want them to do to you. This doesn’t in fact come from the Sermon on the Mount or from Christianity, or it doesn’t originate with it. It’s certainly adumbrated by Rabbi Hillel, a Babylonian rabbi, and it’s to be found in The Analects of Confucious, too.

It almost seems like he rushed the latter part of the book. Most though was very good and stuffed full of great arguments and quotes. I particularly loved “if triangles had gods their gods would have three sides”.

Suffice it to say that if you are in any doubt as to whether to pursue the believers route, or have the misguided view that religious values are somehow good for society, then have a read and be disabused of those notions.

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