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Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,678 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
A Lifelong Unbeliever Finds No Reason to Change His Mind

Are there any logical reasons to believe in God? Mathematician and bestselling author John Allen Paulos thinks not. In Irreligion he presents the case for his own worldview, organizing his book into twelve chapters that refute the twelve arguments most often put forward for believing in God's existence. The latter arg
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Hardcover, 158 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Hill and Wang
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Community Reviews

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D. Parker
Oct 03, 2009 D. Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by a mathematician who went out of his way to refrain altogether from using formulas and equations and stick strictly to prose, this charming book is a humble refutation of a collection of the most common arguments in favor of the existence of god. Paulos goes through these arguments one after the other, first documenting the form of the argument itself before discussing how the argument holds up.

For people who are already avowed nonbelievers, this book is an invaluable resource to aid i
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Eric Hendrixson
Apr 28, 2011 Eric Hendrixson rated it liked it
I've been through this one two and a half times and still haven't figured out for whom this book was written.

This book takes a few of the classic arguments for the existence of God and refutes them. He refutes them effectively but in the standard manner. Your average atheist or agnostic already knows these arguments. The average theist will be put off by the tone of the tome, which is a bit condescending. Some atheists will be put off by that too.

What disappointed me about the book was actuall
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Raja99
Sep 26, 2008 Raja99 rated it liked it
Shelves: mcpl
Why I read this book: I saw a mention of it online, either on a website or Amazon. As an atheist married to a mathematics major, I was curious to see Paulos's take.

This was a good book for me to read on the airplane; it was (mostly) interesting, but not too challenging. (As I get older, I find that noisy settings--like airplane cabins--make it hard for me to concentrate.)

The book is pleasantly and smoothly written; it deals with how none of the popular "mathematical" or "scientific" proofs of th
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Adam
Feb 05, 2008 Adam rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fellow agnostics and those who love them
If Dawkins or Dennett are a little too hardcore for you, Paulos might be the one to truly deflect the mainstream meme that has placed the poorly thought out label of 'fundamentalist atheism' on this movement. He's thorough in his debunking of 'God Exist' arguments without being arrogant. For those who want a summary of false claims of the supernatural, IRRELIGION is a nice primer for those of us within the U.S. minority that is, as Penny Edgall puts it, "the glaring exception to the rule of ...more
Dale
May 23, 2009 Dale rated it really liked it
Paulos playfully takes on 12 alleged 'proofs' of the existence of a deity - proofs that range from the subtly fallacious to the downright silly. The thing I liked most about the book was that Paulos summarized most of the proofs in syllogistic form, to help expose the flaws in the proofs. He cites an example from Woody Allen :

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Therefore, all men are Socrates.

It has never seemed to me that the proofs of god's existence are very difficult to refute, but Paulos a
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Rod
Mar 28, 2016 Rod rated it did not like it
Here it is: This book will explain WHY the arguments for God just don't add up. Once i'm done this collection I'll never have to go to church again, no more religious studies, no more pondering theological issues that are spread throughout the globe and history, no more praying, or hope of an eternal existence with a Savior...

"Cough!" Finally done this bit of atheist pseudo-intellectual crap. (Does that sound mean? Naw. Just getting started) Is this guy just another nerd who had his girlfriend s
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Martin Crim
Dec 04, 2010 Martin Crim rated it it was ok
Like a person with no ability to appreciate art writing about painting, Paulos writes about religion from the perspective of a strong, early intuitive feeling toward materialism. Paulos conflates the idea of explanation with the idea of meaning, thus missing the richness of life. Toward the middle of the book, Paulos acknowledges the metaphor of a person with perfect pitch trying to explain music to someone who is tone deaf, but he then pivots to an analogy of sightedness v. blindness, as if the ...more
Mateo
Mar 18, 2010 Mateo rated it really liked it
This is a nifty little (150 pages) book that takes the major arguments for the existence of God and dispatches them quickly and more or less painlessly, simply by examining the logic behind them. All of the hoary favorites are here (Argument from First Cause, Ontological Argument, etc.), plus some newer, less formal sources of belief, each presented in the form of a syllogism that Paulos examines and breaks down. For the most part, Paulos doesn't bother with marshaling facts and evidence against ...more
Shelley
Jan 30, 2016 Shelley rated it did not like it
My 16 year old son read it and told me "don't read it!" as my sister had loaned it to me. Well, now I know why, because I didn't get it (and neither did he). I didn't understand the logic in it. What's the need for all these huge words throughout? Making it easier to read would have made it easier for the reader to understand his point of view. I hated this book and could hardly wait to finish it, made myself finish it.

Jim Razinha
Nov 08, 2012 Jim Razinha rated it it was amazing
This won't convince anyone not already convinced, but Paulos does apply a mathematical edge to the analysis.



The most telling chapter was the last - Athiests, Agnostics, and "Brights". I agree with Paulos in that I am also not too fond of the name "Brights", but maybe it'll catch on. The statistics are disturbing in how others view atheists and non-believers. The stigma is still hard to overcome.
David
Dec 05, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
This is a wonderful book! It is short, elegant with a sometimes humorous angle. Some of the arguments are subtle, so subtle that you need to think "between the lines". But that is fine, because unlike other books on this subject, Paulos does not throw things in your face. His writing is concise, not repetitive at all, and yet the occasional humorous approach helps to keep one's interest.
Yupa
Nov 18, 2010 Yupa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
for fans only

Librettino che riordina e riesamina le varie prove logiche che nei secoli hanno tentato di "dimostrare" l'esistenza di dio. Limitandosi quasi unicamente al dio dei monoteismi trascendenti, ovvero a quello cristiano.
La lettura è veloce, lo stile è garbato e ironico, non senza qualche osservazione puntuta che magari potrebbe un po' infastidire il credente.
Ma probabilmente non molti credenti leggeranno questo libro che, come tanti altri del genere, verrà aperto soprattutto da chi già l
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Eliot Parulidae
Apr 26, 2014 Eliot Parulidae rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
Atheist authors such as John Allen Paulos strive to bring out a contrarian streak in their readers, but they may get more than they bargain for - though I've been living religion-free for over a year now, I have yet to find an atheist book that doesn't disappoint me in some way. Books of any genre written by atheists and agnostics? Often amazing. Books about atheism and agnosticism? Often tedious, derivative, and repetitive.

I had hope for this one when I put it on hold at the library. The autho
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David
Feb 05, 2008 David rated it liked it
This small, breezy book covers many of the main arguments for god. Most of the refutations aren't original, but Paulos doesn't claim they are - he just thinks it'd be useful to have them all in one place. Fair enough. He's generally pretty careful, as you'd expect a mathematician to be, but he does at one point make the extremely silly mistake of assuming perfect mixing of human populations when calculating descendents.

In any case, his subject matter doesn't interest me a great deal. Yes, all th
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Keith Swenson
Aug 08, 2012 Keith Swenson rated it really liked it
I have been a long time fan of John Allen Paulos's Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences where he talks about the harm to society of a population that does not know how to do math. When I saw this book, couldn't help picking it up.

Gave it four stars because it is well written and important. He runs through the various arguments for the existence of God, and points out the fallacies in each. Very clear, very organized. And not too long. I listened to the audio version which las
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Jay Cole
Aug 05, 2015 Jay Cole rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
John Allen Paulos takes a thoroughly interesting look at the arguments for god from the perspective of a mathematician. However, have no fear! You will not be facing page after page of complex equations. Instead, Paulos offers us plain old English. What a relief!

I found it interesting that it is so easy for people to conflate coincidence with probability, or even truth. Paulos’ explanation of the different ways people imagine or deliberately falsify connections between 9/11 and various prophecie
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Iris
Aug 28, 2016 Iris rated it did not like it

I borrowed the book from my neighbourhood library, curious about how a Mathematician might perceive believers' reasons for their faith.

While the author attempts to argue against the reasons given for the existence of God, there is a lack of consistency in the train of thought and conclusions drawn were less than solid. The fleeting chapters seem unrelated to one another.

I came away from the book feeling confused and not sure what the author's intention of writing the book was - to prove the non-
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James
Another excellent book from the author of 'Innumeracy' - this time he takes on about all the arguments for the existence of God, at least in any of the forms envisioned by mainstream religions.
Some other authors writing on this topic have taken tones ranging from urgent to strident. I believe there's a place for their outlooks, because as they note, a large share of the human suffering in the world is rooted in religion. However, Paulos' take is much gentler, more accepting of believers though n
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Prospero
Dec 10, 2011 Prospero rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Atheists, secular humanists, agnostics.
God does not compute...or at least the belief in a divine power does not logically withstand scrutiny according to Paulos, who systematically refutes all the extant arguments for the supernatural from his perspective as Professor of Mathematics at Temple University. This is a subject Paulos has written on before in various columns so readers of his will find all of this to be familiar ground.

Are his analyses as eloquent as those of Hitchens, or as provocative as Dawkins? Not hardly. He's a numbe
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Preeti
Apr 26, 2010 Preeti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atheism
I really enjoyed this book. It introduced me to some interesting arguments that I hadn't heard previously. I really liked Paulos' random humor sprinkled throughout as well.

There were some concepts that I felt were beyond my understanding but I don't think that detracted from the reading overall.

I think this was a great intro book to read for the beginning atheist (is there such a thing?) or an agnostic. Now onto more in-depth books! Perhaps Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins?
Jerrod
Jul 11, 2010 Jerrod rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: doubters, skeptics, agnostics, theists, deists, and those of an open mind
Over all a good read. I don't know if I would put it up as something for a philosopher per se to read. But, anyone interested in a mathematical glean on the proofs for god could benefit from this book.
It is a short engaging work. Which I think would be only slightly offensive to any theist reading it, though I can't imagine any theist picking it up unless they were already beyond them self in such a way as to not get offended.
Saeed
Jan 11, 2010 Saeed rated it liked it
Easier to read than most books of this genre, at times the author does wander off a bit with difficult references. However, for the most part, this concise text evaluates and debunks (not always successfully) most of the arguments for the existence of God. A good read that is more approachable than you would expect.
Emma
Nov 21, 2010 Emma rated it liked it
Recommends it for: a newbie to pro-atheism books.
Shelves: science, non-fiction
A less than original but concise and approachable summary of rebuttals to arguments for the existence of god. Read my full review at my book review blog, Em and Emm Expound on Exposition.
Melody
Apr 17, 2010 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heard
It's me, over here in the choir robes. Nothing in this book I didn't already embrace, I mean. The geeky mathematical angle was a huge bonus. I found this audio book fun, funny and comforting. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like. And I do.
Joel Sassone
Short and sweet, like a Beatles song. If a Beatles song were to describe the logical fallacies underlying belief in a god, that is. The author is a mathematician, but no math is involved in this book, just logic.
Mike de la Flor
Apr 30, 2012 Mike de la Flor rated it really liked it
This is a fun take on debunking the arguments for the existence of God from a mathematician's point of view. This a short book and a fairly easy read.
Shawn Patrick
Jan 01, 2010 Shawn Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: atheism
Good, short book, but it didn't really cover any new ground or re-cover ground in a new way. Nothing new here for people already decently well-read in the genre.
Drew
Mar 26, 2013 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I read this in one sitting. It's easy going after you get used to his pacing and style of writing. I've read his Innumeracy book back in the early 90s and I think another one of his as well.

The topic is of definite interest to me as an atheist. However, I didn't find anything in the book that was new, though it might be good for someone who is beginning to question faith or religion. For those who've already made the leap, I think it's preaching to the choir, pun intended. I don't think his arg
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Earl
May 29, 2015 Earl rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I think this work is an attempt to purify religion and scientific thinking through logic and mathematics. At least it provided a glimpse of how people wrongly see religion and God through the things that happen around them, and how one can correct them logically, not only spotting errors but showing the line of reasoning that such beliefs should pursue if it were to be logically consistent.

But more than that, this work is another confirmation of the gap between belief and unbelief, in terms of
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Sean Goh
Apr 28, 2014 Sean Goh rated it liked it
The mathematician tagline seems like a marketing ploy, though upon closer examination one realises that a significant bit of logic can be found in this book.

A lot of the arguments revolve around 'why bring God into the picture as an unnecessary intermediary?'

Or various logical leaps.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

The issue with a God of the Gaps is that he can never be refuted, because he simply takes refuge in domains in which scientific knowledge ha
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“(Mathematicians are a bit like the laconic Vermonter who, when asked if he’s lived in the state his whole life, replies, “Not yet.”)” 0 likes
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