Category: Books

Book reviews and recommendations.

New book about Suffolk people, their faiths and beliefs, including Humanism

We’ve been affiliated to the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource (SIFRE) since its inception in 1991, at about the same time that our group was founded. Among other things, it’s allowed us to contribute to educational activities in the county, in schools and other statutory and voluntary bodies, including local government. An off-shoot of SIFRE became the East of England Faiths Agency, which provides speakers for all of these organisations, and members...

A book that sets out to demonstrate that atheists aren’t miserable

New York photographer Chris Johnson has found subscribers to publish a book of portraits of happy atheists, to dispel the myth “that our lives are devoid of joy and happiness because we are not religious.” It looks interesting, but the sample list of subjects gives the impression that the book could be male-dominated. Maybe the gender balance will be 50/50?

Click here to read more.

New books: God as a teenage boy, and making science magical for young people

September booksHave you noticed how people who believe in God are always telling us how he/she/it wants us to behave, while God (the one in the Bible, anyway) behaves rather badly? What if he isn’t an old man on a cloud but is, in fact, a teenage boy? That might explain the behaviour. Mariella Frostrup interviewed author Meg Rossof on BBC Radio 4 today about her new book, ‘There is no Dog’, which imagines what the world would be like if God was a petulant teenage boy called Bob, who spends the majority of his time sleeping or having sexual fantasies about the human women he has created and causing floods, geological disasters and much suffering in his wake. In the first chapter (available to download online), she wrote,

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Only it wasn’t as simple as that. The preferred candidate for God withdrew at the last minute saying he wanted to spend more time with his family, though privately everyone suspected he was having second thoughts. You couldn’t really blame him. Earth was badly positioned – miles off the beaten track in a lonely and somewhat rundown part of the universe. At a time of high employment, not many top-level candidates were willing to take on a tiny unproven planet, not to mention the whole creation rigmarole, which, when done properly, could be a real headache.

Great fun!

Richard Dawkins latest book was published today. He was interviewed about it on Newsnight a couple of night ago – you have a few more days to listen on i-Player. ‘The Magic of Reality‘ is a book for children that aims to replace myth with science, and make it just as exciting and magical.

Note that if you decide to buy either or both of these books, we’ll get commission if you do it through the link to Amazon on our website.

Prof A C Grayling’s rewritten the Bible

A C GraylingProfessor Anthony Grayling, soon to be the President of the British Humanist Association, has rewritten the Bible, without all the nasty bits (there are a lot of them). Matthew Adams from New Humanist has interviewed him about his “lifetime’s work”. Grayling says,

The way I made it was to plunder from the great traditions texts on which I had performed redaction, weaving them together, editing them, interpolating other texts and sometimes my own, just as the Bible makers worked on their texts. It was tremendous fun.

If you decide to buy it, why not use our Amazon link? That way, we get some commission.

Postscript: The Daily Mash says the new book’s “an impossible fairy story”.

“Absence of evidence where there ought to be evidence is evidence of absence”

Review: The New Atheism – Taking a stand for Science and Reason, by Victor J Stenger. Prometheus Books NY.
Michael Imison

Victor Stenger is an American particle physicist, now retired to Colorado University, where he is an adjunct professor of philosophy. This book is the latest of ten or more well-received popular polemics he has written exploring the interface between physics and religion.

In this work he takes as his starting point the series of best-sellers which started with The End of Faith by Sam Harris (2006) and continued with Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, and Christopher Hitchen’s God is not Great. To this group Stenger himself contributed God the failed Hypothesis which reached the New York Times bestseller list in March 2007. It can be said that all these works have a self confident tone which more or less implies that science has settled forever that there is no God (which many of us believe). It should have been foreseen perhaps that this would promote a backlash from the religious and in particular religious scientists anxious to show this view mistaken.

Holiday reading for MPs?

MulticulturalismWhile Michael Gove’s Academies Bill offers more opportunties for people to set up faith schools or to make existing ones less accountable, the Labour leadership candidates all say they’re pro-faith schools. Faith schools are a part, a rather large part, of the problem of “multiculturalism”, about which so much nonsense has been spoken and written by ignorant politicians.

Rumy Hasan’s book, Multiculturalism: Some Inconvenient Truths, ought to be on every MP’s holiday reading list. Barry Thorpe’s review for the NSS explains clearly why:

This book articulates very clearly the dangers and fallacies inherent in the current concept of multiculturalism, illustrated with example after example. It should be compulsory reading for every MP and every government department.

Myth-busting with Dawkins

RainbowRichard Dawkins has struck a book deal with Transworld, part of the Random House group, with a title aimed at teenagers, due out in autumn 2011:

Aimed at the adult and young adult market, the book addresses big questions about the natural world, including What is a Rainbow? Why are there Seasons? and Who Was the First Man and the First Woman? Each question is answered first by myth and legend, and then by lucid scientific explanation.

An Atheist’s Guide to Christmas

Atheists GuideAn Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is in the shops now (and if it isn’t, it jolly well should be). Edited by the lovely Ariane Sherine, of Atheist Bus fame, a whole bunch of atheists, including some very funny ones, have contributed their thoughts about the festive season, including how to avoid it.

The royalties will go to the UK charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, which seems particularly appropriate now that Pope Benedict, that homophobic old goat*, is about to visit the UK with his message that condoms shouldn’t be used in countries where AIDS is rife.

You can buy the book now at Amazon, or take a trip down to your local bookshop and demand that they put it in a window display.

*Actually, I take the goat insult back – I like goats.

Shop at Amazon for Yuletide presents

517DJA7128L._SL500_AA240_If you click on the link on this web site to shop at Amazon, we’ll get some commission to add to our funds.

You could begin with a copy of Jim Herrick’s book, ‘Humanism: an introduction”, for £14.50 (free delivery). Jim will be our guest speaker next month.