Bookpuppy's Reviews > The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens

The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day
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Jan 25, 2012

bookshelves: 2012-reading-list

The Irrational Atheist is very intelligently written and at times humorous. The strict materialist position most often found in dogmatic atheism isn't the most rational of all positions. Day (not the author's real name), articulately lays out many of the problems with strong atheism.

This is what the book does well, since strong, dogmatic atheism seems to be en vogue in the US.

However, he seems to ignore weak atheism... or the atheism that simply "lacks belief" in any particular deity. And, truth be told, the most RATIONAL position, given the vast amount of things we "can't know" as human beings--agnosticism--would be the most intellectually honest AND the most rational position... a simple admission of "I don't know". Such a philosophical position, of course, would not prohibit someone from creating a spirituality/working framework or from following a spiritual tradition, merely that we "don't" know, so whatever one believes or "lacks belief in" should be held with some level of humility one would think.

Further, though much strong atheism is very irrational, the author displays little compassion with regards to how they got that way (having oppressive, repressive, and dogmatic religion shoved down their throats, often to an abusive/damaging degree. Gee, who WOULDN'T rebel against that? Especially when being asked to believe in nonsense like talking snakes and magic apples--hardly a rational option, either. Without a literal Adam and original sin you don't need a literal savior.)

Day states that his book focuses on why atheism is irrational, not on defending his own position. But by claiming atheists irrational, is he not at least implying his position is more rational? Though he alludes to his own position several times throughout the book, he refuses to truly defend it on any rational grounds. His position is, unsurprisingly, Christianity. However, he admits also that it is a certain brand of Christianity: Evangelical, that he follows.

Evangelical Christianity can be seen as quite irrational all on its own. In fact, such could be said of ANY religious one-true-wayism. What RATIONAL deity would communicate to humanity through ONE religion with ONE book in something so fallible and open to misinterpretation as written human language?

This book also suffers from a peculiar problem that seems especially frequent in the west: assuming a false religious dichotomy. i.e. if Atheism is irrational, Christianity must be the default rational position. If Christianity is irrational then atheism must be the default rational position. Both groups think they have only the one other option to fight and then they "win". Not quite.

My view is that all dogmatism is irrational. More moderate views, while not necessarily based on pure rationality are at least more tenable. This would include weak atheism and liberal Christianity. i.e. strong atheism and fundamentalist Christianity are both irrational. Weak atheism and liberal Christianity are both somewhat more rational. So neither one group nor the other can pretend to be more empirically rational.

But neither group should pretend it's a fight between only two options or even two CATEGORIES of options (atheism vs. monotheism). There are many other ways to view the world, some of which might even be considered more rational than either Atheism or Christianity in any of its forms.
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