Finished in two sittings. Interesting take on how a religion could start. Cool to think about. I'm in flight school right now so my literary critiqueFinished in two sittings. Interesting take on how a religion could start. Cool to think about. I'm in flight school right now so my literary critique skills are lacking. Oh well. Still interesting even though one knows exactly whats going to happen. I really liked how he would slightly alter things from the narrative/quotes we're used to ("Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" turns into something more clumsy and awkward. We're supposed to infer the authors over the years really beefed up/embellished/beautified this) and let us see how, or possibly how, things have reached our ear. Kinda like a 2,000 year old game of "Telephone," but fraught with political and nefarious and meaning-to-do-well interlopers. Nothing groundbreaking, but one likes to see ones own thoughts articulated by someone else, especially in a narrative that is easy to extract meaning from. Also, Jesus' speech to God was pretty great. I'm too lazy to cite it right now, perhaps at a future point. ...more
"You know, the atheists, who not only believe but know there is no God are just as silly as those who seem to have no doubt that there is." p. 4
"One d"You know, the atheists, who not only believe but know there is no God are just as silly as those who seem to have no doubt that there is." p. 4
"One doesn't have to beg a good being to be good, one only has to ask a bad being to be good. No? Since the devil is the bad guy, isn't he the one we should be begging for mercy?" p. 6
"If anyone was ever in the corner of a murderer it was God with Simpson." p. 8
"If a man partakes of a cup of liuid froma large barrel and it tastes to him like a certain, distinct beverage, can he not with confidence say taht tthe rest of the barrel is teh same beverage? Or should he really believe that deeper in the barrel the flavor might change dramatically? What I am saying is taht what I do oknw has convinced me that by and large the religious beleifs about God are a rich and intoxicating brew of myth, superstition, and nonsense." p. 13
"This does not mean that God is not responsible for the harmony and order of the universe. It only means that since there is no past human experience to rely on, Christians are not rationally entitled to assert, with the great confidence they do, that the harmony and design of the universe prove that a supernatural being, God, is behind it all." p. 24. Sounds very Humian.
"It turns out that the book is primarily not even about God but, as the subtitle of his book declares, about how Religion Poisons Everything. Hitchens apparently believes that by slaying the dragon of organized religion, an unworthy opponent, he is therefore slaying God, an obvious non sequitur." p. 43......... I might have to reread this book but I'm pretty sure Bugliosi is putting words into Hitch's mouth. He never said there is definitely no god because of all the evil religion has done. All he said was that he is rather an Anti-theist than an atheist anyway.
Talking about Sam Harris: " In other words, I've destroyed religion, and therefore I've destroyed God. But does Harris actually believe that there can be no God without religion? Indeed, that there can be no belief in a creator, a supreme being, without one being, concomitantly, a member of some organized religion or religious faith? How can anyone believe this? Yet this, apparently, is what at least Harris and his colleague Hitchens believe." p. 48. OK this is an outright lie, at least for Hitchens' sake who I know a lot more about than Harris. Hitchens absolutely believed one could believe in god without religion, i.e. his favorite president (and mine) Thomas Jefferson was of this ilk. Again, just because other people call him an atheist does not mean Hitchens says there is no god and attacks religion, Hitchens calls himself more of an anti-theist and attacks religion and says he thinks there really is no good reason to believe in god.
"When I hear theists and atheist pontificating on how they know God does or does not exist, I can only smile at the irrationality and yes, vanity of the notion." p. 48. I'll give you that I've heard theists say that, and some atheists, but not the ones he is attacking here (Hitchens, Dawkins). Dawkins gave himself a 6.9 on a 0-7 scale where 0 is knowing there is a god and 7 is knowing there is no god. Again, he is presuming that these New-Age atheists are claiming they know god doesn't exist and I'm almost certain (see what I did there?) they have not.
On the multiple universe theory as it applies to the anthropomorphic principle in Dawkins' view - "The most acclaimed atheist of today has the effrontery to present a pure fantasy of his (and a virtually impossible one at that, unless one wants to run the zeros of improbability to the end of hundreds of pages) as actual evidence that there's no God, and he does it, I assume, without even blushing." p. 56. OK clearly this guy has never heard of the multi-verse theory, calling it pure fantasy... theoretical physicists have been kicking that idea around for a while now in earnest.
"Concomitantly, the struggle for life caused the organisms to mutate, to change, to adapt to their demanding environment, the changes making them more complex." p. 62. As he states earlier, he clearly has no idea how evolution works... the struggle for life does not cause mutations.
"In other words, his theory has been accepted as fact by most scientists on how man evolved, and they therefore reject the notion that God created man." p. 62. NOT TRUE, they can still say that God overlooked evolution.
"I can say that viscerally I find it difficult to conceptualize the notion of bacteria evolving into Mozart, or, for that matter, any human. At a much more elementary level, I find it difficult to conceive of how evolution enables any life form, such as a bacteria, not only to improve life itself and become more capable of surviving, but actually allows it to change into a completely different species, many of such transmutations having had to take place for a bacteria to evolve into a human being." p. 63. READ A BOOK ABOUT EVOLUTION THEN I'm running out of characters for this review so I'll just leave it at that.
"[D]oesn't the very word "evolution" by definition, mean that the previous life form no longer exists? That it has evolved or mutated into a new or higher form? If so, since monkeys still exist, does that mean, perforce, that we did not evolve from them?" p. 64. NO SHIT SHERLOCK, again, read a book on evolution, we didn't evolve from monkeys, we have a common ancestor with them. This guy is starting to annoy me.
'What does it say about humanity that the one thing people think is important enough to talk about is not that, aside from Noah and his family, God murdered the entire human race, but "I wonder if they'll ever find Noah's ark?"" p. 144.
"To pause for a moment, unless God is part homoseual, which I have yet to hear anyone suggest, since the bible says that "God created man in his own image" (Genesis 1:27), how could it come to pass that there are homosexuals in the world?" p. 146. This is actually really funny.
"Can you imagine that? Thirty grown men with all types of doctorate degrees, wearing suits and ties and boarding planes with their briefcases to fly to Rome and sit around a conference table and actually conduct a serious discussion about limbo. It's mind-boggling." p. 173
"The point I am making goes beyond prayers. When people, saying grace before a bountiful Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, thank God for giving them the wonderful food on their plate, don't they realize they are necessarily saying that God decided not to give millions of starving people around the world no food at all to eat?" p. 212
"Indeed, isn't the need for laws throughout the land an implied admission that God and religion are only marginally effective in deterring bad and immoral human conduct?" p. 230
"Isn't it comforting for people to know that their very firmly held religious beliefs have nothing to do with the quality and merit of the beliefs, and everything to do with geography?" p.231
"If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, faith is the first refuge of an idle or apprehensive mind, and though it may perhaps be mentally and emotionally nutritious, it is not intellectually sustainable." p. 254. Last bit is a really well-made phrase.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: As much as he tries to promote agnosticism, he is really an anti-theist. Which is good, because that's what I am too. My cousin bought me this book after seeing I was reading a book by Hitchens called "The Portable Atheist," and, although he actually never said this so I hope I am not misreading his intentions, wanted me to expand my horizons and get out of my little atheist corner. I am perhaps putting this in a much more condescending way than it should be, because that was definitely not his intention at all. As I greatly respect his intelligence, so I figured this thoughtful gift would be well worth my time. It was, but for a different reason than he or I thought it would be. Like I said, this was supposed to be a book that engenders agnosticism, and it kinda does get that accomplished. However, he spends much more time bashing religion than anything else in this book (always a fun thing to do if done right). His arguments against atheism are much less prominent and forceful. He merely attacks 'gnostic' atheists, those who say that there is absolutely no way there is a god. I am not under this flag; in the strictest sense, although most people only see 3 exhaustive options in atheist, theist, and agnostic, I consider myself and 'agnostic atheist,' in that I don't believe there is a god (atheist) but cannot say that there is no god (hence agnostic). So when Bugliosi says: "You know, the atheists, who not only believe but know there is no God are just as silly as those who seem to have no doubt that there is," I agree with him, but I really have not come across too many of these types of atheists who say that there absolutely is no god. To be sure, there are some like this there, but the 'new age' atheists that he attacks, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, are not of this stripe. I guess I cannot say this for sure of Harris, as I am only a tiny bit familiar with his position (a few youtube videos here and there, I haven't read anything by him yet). Ironically, as much as he tries to put down Hitchens for his book "God is Not Great." this book actually reminded a lot of GiNG. It was replete with some very interesting and keen attacks on the absurdities and atrocities of organized religion, mostly christianity and especially the catholic church. Very well picked and deserving targets, in my opinion. What is a little different about this book than GiNG is that this focuses more on the absurdities and a little bit about the atrocities, while GiNG focuses more on the atrocities and a little bit about the absurdities, although, needless to say, they go hand-in-hand and reciprocate each other. So, besides the bit about evolution and straw man attacks on virtually non-existent intransigent atheism, this was a pretty informative and entertaining book. Also, this seemed to be a pretty quick 270 pages, which is probably a product of the 2-guys-just-sitting-around-talking-casually writing style and interesting subject matter. I'm only giving it 4 stars, however because of the "If we evolved from monkeys, then why are they still here?" boneheaded fuck up.
Had to read it for a class. Interesting, in-your-face account of how xtianity has been historically skewed by 'fashionable' pro-secular movement. ExpeHad to read it for a class. Interesting, in-your-face account of how xtianity has been historically skewed by 'fashionable' pro-secular movement. Expected to hate it, however found it thought-provoking and altered some of my previous conclusions. DBH is an imaginative, witty, and informative author. Dense history sometimes a drawback, but overall book runs very smoothly. ...more
So much literature, so much history, so much politics... pretty interesting. Why I love Hitch so much; interestingly honestJerusalem vs. Athens,p. 78
So much literature, so much history, so much politics... pretty interesting. Why I love Hitch so much; interestingly honest and honestly interesting. I've read reviews complaining that its just a compendium of name-dropping yada yada yada. I'm sure he didn't 'drop' half as many names as he could have, and its his memoir, let him fill it with whatever he deems fit. A big part of his life was meeting and conferring with and arguing against intellectuals, writers, politicians, and commoners (whatever that means) of all stripes. But he doesn't need me to defend him (and that's saying something for a dead man), so I won't. All I really have left to say about him is that this memoir confirmed my conviction that I selfishly wish that there were more people like him around in my life in order to make this short life more interesting and more honest. Notice, I did not say I wish this because we share so many opinions, but because of these two simple virtues. And this probably has struck you by now, if there were more Hitch-clones, the level of interestingness would automatically drop because there would be less variety. So I'm not wishing for Hitch-clones. With that said, I'll concede that he is on a short list of people I wouldn't mind being cloned, given the impetus that some cloning had to be done. ...more
"None of anyone's immediate ancestor's died in childhood. If they had, they wouldn't be you're ancestors!" Author, p. 14, using Richard Dawkins' idea."None of anyone's immediate ancestor's died in childhood. If they had, they wouldn't be you're ancestors!" Author, p. 14, using Richard Dawkins' idea.
"I also do not believe that Darwin's wide influence comes from his patient and groundbreaking observations on orchids or barnacles. Rather, it comes from one simple fact. Evolution displaced the Creator from HIs central position as the primary explanation for every aspect of the living world." Author, p. 14
"It may seem remarkable that the gas of party balloons and airships was once unknown, but the true wonder is that helium was first discovered at a distance of 93 million miles." Author, p. 26, taking about how Lockyer guessed that an undiscovered element was found in the sun (thus HELIum) existed after finding distinct emission at a wavelength of 587.6 nanometers using electrospectronomy in 1868.
"Evolutionary theory is not a guess about the nature of life any more than atomic theory is a guess about the nature of matter, or germ theory is pure speculation on the nature of disease. Evolutionary theory is a well-defined, consistent, and productive set of explanations for how evolutionary change takes place." Author, p. 54
"As we add to the growing richness of life's documentary record, we can be justifiably proud, not just of the fact that we - along with every other living thing on the planet - are among life's winners, but especially of the fact that we are the very first creatures in 35 million centuries to become aware of the magnificence of our legacy." Author, p. 56
"The world has many religions in it but just one science, and that tells us something about both." Author, p.221
"Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books." Saint Augustine quote, p. 256. If this is the only quote I can judge him by, then this sounds like a smart guy. "Our sacred books" - key word, "Our." Realizes that other people have different beliefs and seems to respect them... Where did xtianity go wrong? Fundamentalists of the present should take a page out of this guy's book. Its been a long time since i've read a quote from a "saint" that I've liked. Also, didn't take Genesis literally and made fun of those who did! And he died 1600 years ago! Again, where the hell did fundamentalism come from?
"A strong and self-confident religious belief cannot forever pin its hopes on the desperate supposition that an entire branch of science is dramatically wrong, thereby to teeter always on the brink of logical destruction." Author, p.258-9. I wish more religious people thought like him, then we could all get along a lot better and not have to argue about factual science (we should leave that to the scientists, I'm not saying science shouldn't be argued, that's one of the best things about it, but leave the politicians and media out of it and let the scientists do science), when we have some many other real controversies that need tending too.
"In a purely biological sense, this comforting view of our position in nature is false, a product of self-inflating distortion induced by the imperfect mirrors we hold up to life. Yes, we are objectively among the most complex of animals, but not in every sense. Among the systems of the body, we are the hands-down winners for physiological complexity in just one place - the nervous system - and even there a nonprimate, the dolphin, can lay down a claim that rivals our own." Author, p. 271 on human arrogance and thinking we are at the apex of the evolutionary tree.
"A world in which we would always evolve is also a world in we would never be free." Author, p. 273 on determinism and the supposed historical contingencies that created our species. Interesting thought.
"Put bluntly, the creationists are committed to finding permanent, intractable mystery in nature. To such minds, even the most perfect being we can imagine still wouldn't be perfect enough to have fashioned a creation in which life would originate and evolve on its own. The nature they require science to discover is one that is flawed, static, and forever inadequate." Author, p. 289
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Mostly really liked the book. Loved the message, loved the utter destruction of ID (creationism) and the fun little scientific factoids. His explanation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle was neat, better than Stephen Hawkings (!) I'd say. So, all the science was great. But, at the end of the book he tried to put god in the picture, which is fine, but I'm still not sure about his conception of god. He seems deistic (God set up the world, and evolution just happened. It wasn't and didn't have to be in the plans), but claims that he is a theist. I'm not sure... I think he was trying to squeeze god into the aforesaid uncertainty principle (i.e., everything can be explained in Newtonian terms, but on the quantum level, when things start to get weird, the universe is utterly inexplicable and there you have room for a good ol' 'god of the gaps' scenario, yet he says this is no way to explain god later in the book). Either way, what I wanted to get out of this book was good science and even better bunk destroying, which I got. The philosophy at the end was unconvincing to me, but I'm still a huge fan of Mr. Miller here and wish more people were like him. On a side not, this book took me about 2 weeks longer to finish than it should have because of of the last philosophical section. O well. I think I'd like to read his other books too. ...more
"The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation." p. 11
"To me, there appear to be only three principles of connection among ideas,"The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation." p. 11
"To me, there appear to be only three principles of connection among ideas, namely, Resemblance, Contiguity in time or place, and Cause or Effect." p. 15
"If I ask you why you believe in any particular matter of fact, which you relate, you must tell me some reason; and this reason will be some other fact, connected with it. But as you cannot proceed after this manner, in infitum, you must at last terminate in some fact, which is present to your memory or senses; or must allow that your belief is entirely without foundation." 27
"The isosceles and scalenum are distinguished by boundaries more exact than vice and virtue, right and wrong." p. 35
"The scenes of the universe are continually shifting, and one object follows another in an uninterrupted succession; but the power of force, which actuates the whole machine, is entirely concealed from us, and never discovers itself in any of the sensible qualities of the body [solidity, extension, motion]. p. 36
"The wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence." p. 62
"The reason why we place any credit in witnesses and historians is not derived from any connection, which we perceive a priori, between testimony and reality, but because we are accustomed to find a conformity between them." p. 63
"The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worth of our attention), 'That no testimony is sufficient evidence to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.' p. 65
"When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle if the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion." p. 65-66
"When we infer any particular cause from an effect, we must proportion the one to the other, and can never be allowed to ascribe to the cause any qualities, but which are exactly sufficient to produce the effect. A body of 10 ounces raised in any scale may serve as a proof, that the counterbalancing weight exceeds 10 ounces, but can never afford a reason that it exceeds a hundred" p. 78. Argument-From-Design Killer.
"All the philosophy, therefore, in the world, and all the religion, which is nothing but a species of philosophy, will never be able to carry us beyond the usual course of experience, or give us measures of conduct and behavior different from those which are furnished by reflections on common life." p. 83. Empiricism in a nutshell, or rather anti-rationalist?