by Converse, Raymond W.
This book is in two parts. In the first part of the book, the author attempts within the few pages to give a history of religion and it’s evolution from the time of the primitive man. The history covers a period of over 20K years and from where the conclusion that can only be made in favour of Atheism is that religion and gods have been a human construct. Any one who thinks there is a point in the life of humans that god decided to reveal himself to the most ignorant in the society and got busy afterwards need to furnish the evidence for the same.
Once this basis has been established, that is religion being a human construct, we must then move forward to show why human reason can replace the place occupied by superstition and myth. He further argues that religion has provided a basis for morals and grounding in life for most and that this can’t be ignored. However, he says it is time that myth and superstition be replaced with human reason.
The question of the existence of gods is not a very important question. Most believers live their lives like there was no god and he says there are atheists who after saying they lack a belief in gods, live there lives like there were gods. He says anyone who identifies as an Atheist should be able to rationally justify his position. He takes issue with the apparent use of ridicule by many Atheists to argue against religious belief and insists that this may not convince a believer to the truth of Atheism.
In the second part of the book, which is focused mainly on the US of A is not as interesting. The saving grace is that the book is short, I would have aborted reading it to the end.
In this part he looks at ways in which Atheism can be a positive social force. His propositions are noble, they cover matters of law, family matters[types and definition of the family unit], response to terrorism, war, education and health matters.
I, however, disagree with him on one item, justice. I must begin by saying that society has a right to protect itself. Once I concede that part, I also insist that society has to breed the best possible people. That society should be such that it encourages the raising of people who would not be driven to crime. I refuse there is a justification for killing someone. I refuse that justice is a noble pursuit. I find the word justice to be a cover for revenge in this case what society has done it has transferred the need and power of revenge from the individual to the state. In this respect therefore I think an Atheistic society based on human reason should be geared towards a society that is reasonable, healthy, and where criminals can be reformed. I stand against punishment. I don’t think it does any good and neither does it achieve the ends to which it is aimed.
In conclusion, the book is not very powerful in defense of Atheism compared to some that have already been covered here, it is not a very interesting read but, to give credit where it is due, gives a good history of religious thought in a few concise pages and in this pages provides a defense for Atheism.