There are a couple of new reviews of my book Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods & Faith up at Amazon. Being busy this month, I hadn’t noticed them.
I keep expecting there will be a ripping Christian reviewer show up sooner or later, so I always brace myself when I find new reviews. But … these were pretty good. I especially liked this bit from Jim Curtis:
I enjoyed reading it immensely and highly recommend it to believers and fence-sitters who need a little nudge to let go, and to non-believers who need some simple, yet valid arguments for debate or discussion.
I’ve read many books by other well-known atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Stenger, Smith, Doherty, Sagan, Mills, etc.), and this one is just as worthwhile, and manages to cover some different territory.
As I’ve said before, most of the books I’ve read on atheism are about the WHY of it. Why religion fails the test of reason, or why the embrace of religion produces ugly side-effects.
But once you’ve started to understand the WHY, you have to begin asking this other question: HOW?
How do you live day-to-day as an atheist? How do you think about morality, or reality, or justice, or death, once divorced from the easy answers of religion? How do you answer friends and family when they ask what you think about these things? How do you BE an atheist?
As I admit in the book, it’s the equivalent of a grammar-school primer on the subject. On the other hand, I think I do a pretty good job of providing some of the basic mental mechanics of real live atheism.
As that self-admitted doofus I go on about, I think I’m singularly well equipped to understand this sort of low-level basic stuff. But the basic stuff is what every fledgeling atheist has to go through in order to get to where you feel like you know what you’re talking about.
Doing it on your own, as I did, it can take years — or in my case, decades — to get it all worked out in your head so that you start to feel confident and self-assured as an atheist. The book is a shortcut on all those years of effort, written in clear language that could probably be understood by pre-teens.
Actually, I’ve thought it would be fun to offer a church this 21-day challenge: Take a random sample of 20 young church-goers between the ages of 13 to 18, set 10 of them to reading the Bible for 20 minutes every day, the other 10 to reading my book. Test them before and after with an anonymous questionnaire, and see how much their devotion changes. Follow up for a bit at, say, 3 month intervals. Because I think religion is actually pretty fragile in the minds of necessarily-curious young people — meaning it can’t stand up to honest challenge — I’ll bet I could turn a significant number of them into atheists.
But … I haven’t figured out how to make the offer so that a church would actually take me up on it, or how to handle the questionnaire, etc. in the aftermath. Or how to get it past the kids’ parents.
Although, who knows: Approached by Christians at a county fair a while back, and notifying them that they might as well save their time because I was an atheist, one of them smirked and assured me in a happy Mary-Poppins-like voice “There’s no such thing as an atheist!” So maybe they’d go for it just out of that supreme Christian confidence.