Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up” as Want to Read:
Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  1,166 ratings  ·  97 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
Hardcover, 158 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Hill and Wang
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Irreligion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Irreligion

Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. HofstadterFermat's Enigma by Simon SinghFlatland by Edwin A. AbbottThe Code Book by Simon SinghZero by Charles Seife
Best Books About Mathematics
169th out of 193 books — 297 voters
The God Delusion by Richard DawkinsGod is Not Great by Christopher HitchensThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganLetter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
What is Atheism About?
43rd out of 50 books — 43 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,718)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
D. Parker
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
Eric Hendrixson
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
Sep 26, 2008 Raja99 rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Feb 05, 2008 Adam rated it 3 of 5 stars
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 incr ...more
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
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
Jim Razinha
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.
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.
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
Martin Crim
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
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
Keith Swenson
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
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 am a believer of God and we are all sinners. What comes down to it: I hated this book and could hardly wait to finish it, made myself finish it.

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
Dec 10, 2011 Prospero rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Irreligion is a clearly organized, persuasive explanation of why God does not exist. Paulos challenges the arguments for God in a simple three-part structure--"four classical arguments," "four subjective arguments," and (a bit of a stretch) "four psycho-mathematical arguments." The chapters within these three sections progress logically through Paulos' thinking so overall the book is informative and enlightening though not ground breaking.

However, there are two downsides. First, though the book
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?
Jul 11, 2010 Jerrod rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Sean Goh
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
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.
Nov 21, 2010 Emma rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: a newbie to pro-atheism books.
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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.
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.
Shawn Patrick
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.
Mike de la Flor
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.
David Teachout
With keen wit, without going the easy way out of simple mockery, Paulos does a delightful job of breaking down the so-called "arguments" for the existence of a deity into their basic form and then annihilating them with all the fun of a mathematician finding a new theorem. Which is to say, quite a lot of fun. I've studied these arguments, used to use them in my believing days, and find it interesting at times to see how someone else would deal with them. I was not disappointed here and even foun ...more
Eliot Parulidae
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
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
Robert Francesco
Honestly, I got lost in some of the mathematical discussions, but I came away with the gist of it. People use faulty pseudo-statistical arguments to draw conclusions that support ideas like "intelligent design", because they lack a basic understanding of the relationship of mathematics and statistics to ideas like evolution.
At first I saw this book and thought to myself "Ok, another skeptical book that tries to dispprove God. How lovely!" I felt that because it used mathematical concepts, it would be easy to follow...but how wrong I was.

Generally, I liked the book, I thought it was extremely interesting, and the thought process behind the author was truly logical and unique- wonderful qualities to have in any novel. But I did feel that it was a little beyond my level of reading. Still, I'm glad that I got through
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 90 91 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment
  • Everything You Know About God is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
  • The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
  • Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity
  • The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
  • The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound
  • The Atheist's Bible: An Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts
  • Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe
  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • The Religion Virus: Why We Believe in God: An Evolutionist Explains Religion's Incredible Hold on Humanity
  • God Hates You, Hate Him Back: Making Sense of the Bible (Revised International Edition)
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper A Mathematician Plays The Stock Market Beyond Numeracy I Think, Therefore I Laugh: The Flip Side of Philosophy

Share This Book