An Atheist Manifesto by Joseph Lewis: An angry and ludicrous tangent

Let me dispense with the quick ad hominem that I’m sure will follow this review. I didn’t give such a negative review because of the argument that this book favors; I’m giving it a bad rating because I sincerely find no compelling reason to view the contents of this book as anything more than an ignorant rant about how Christianity is the supreme evil. It’s not a book about why Atheism is better but rather a book about why Christianity is stupid. That’s an important difference; so I don’t feel that this book really lived up to its expectations.

The first problem is that this book isn’t going to resonate with anyone outside of an audience of the most stringent atheists. It conflates modern Christianity as people understand it today with Christian Fundamentalism. This is already off-putting because the majority of Christians don’t hold such views about Genesis, Adam and Eve, or other fanciful tales. This book isn’t going to change the views of modern religious people about the bigotry of atheists and I find it less compelling that scholarly atheists will see this as anything more than a book riddled with strawman, ad hominems, and other logically fallacious reasoning in an attempt to depict Christianity as the supreme threat to civilization. It’s essentially a less sophisticated attempt at confirmation bias; similar to what Sam Harris attempts to do when he ridicules Islam as the most dangerous religion.

The rest of the book seems to be an attempt at going into the history of religion and how it came to be. Yet, this part is empirically false. It’s simply a less sophisticated attempt at the Genealogy of Morals; unlike Nietzsche, the author simply doesn’t have his facts in order. He goes from ranting about how stupid Bible is to ranting about how religion was formed without any clear transition on whether he’s talking about all religions or just Christianity. If it’s just Christianity, then it’s false. The author seems to believe that the concept of good and evil was a natural predisposition of religious faith but this is empirically untrue. Good and evil, as a concept, didn’t come into fruition until Zoroastrianism in Ancient Persia before it was adapted by Judaism and Christianity. Good and evil concepts were also subsumed by some forms of Hinduism during the period where this belief system began to spread to the East. In fact, the dualistic concept of God and Satan has strong similarities and probably did originate from God of Order and the God of Disorder: Ormazd and Angra Mainyu of Zoroastrianism.

The author doesn’t have his history in order, even in regards to Christianity. It was formed during the Roman period and not as a consequence of nomads having delusions to answer the question of suffering or to explain the world around them. Some of the most ancient religions, such as those pertaining to Chinese mythology in Ancient China, were formed by the State to control the peasants so that they didn’t return to the nomadic lifestyle and the productivity for the new established monarchy didn’t weaken.

Overall, this book just seems like some rant from a high schooler. If you want a more compelling and intelligent argument regarding Atheist objections to religion then please look elsewhere. I’d recommend Nietzsche because of his unique viewpoints about religion and his objections to a religious society that apply even in today’s times. I admit to having a favorable bias towards his works though.

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