Beta testing a book: The one book that will convince you Christianity is false

As promised, I’m not making publicly available the draft of the Introduction to the book I’m working on. Subtitle, “The one book that will convince you Christianity is false. Here’s the summary:

In this introduction:

  • A public service announcement
  • Background for this book

Some specific questions for people who want to comment: Do you know where the EULA jibe came from? Do you have any better advice on how to make reading the Bible cover to cover less boring? Before you comment, you can also read my ignorable advice for people who want to comment on drafts.

  • jamessweet

    I liked the EULA wisecrack, but I am not sure the extent to which the acronym has penetrated the common parlance. Maybe “software license agreement” will allow grandma to get the joke too?

    I feel I must point out that at least some sects do encourage their members to read the entire Bible cover-to-cover, e.g. growing up in a Mormon family I recall our family gathering each evening to read a chapter aloud together, and we went sequentially through both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I’m not sure if we finished the big one… But we certainly were not skipping over the fucked-up sections. And we were strongly encouraged by the church leadership to do exactly that.

    I’m not sure how that fits in, and why sects which do that don’t hemorrhage members as a result… Just food for thought. It may not even be worth mentioning.

    • Jon H

      I agree on EULA, I know exactly what you’re talking about but even I only really know what it means from context.

    • Danny Mason Keener

      You got my interest up, Chris. But when you referenced Crumb and the Skeptics AB as a guide I realized this was just more agenda driven propaganda.

      From the other side of the coin, I recommend Nietzsche’s works, especially The AntiChrist, to expose Atheism.

      “Elimination of the weak and defective, the first principle of our philosophy. And we should help them to do it.”.

      Nietzsche, TAC, sec. 2

      Now, go ahead and make excuses for him.

      • Chris Hallquist

        “You got my interest up, Chris. But when you referenced Crumb and the Skeptics AB as a guide I realized this was just more agenda driven propaganda.”

        No shit I have an agenda. And I’m not surprised you’re unhappy to have me recommending the SAB. But what’s your beef with Crumb’s Genesis? All he does is draw what’s in the Bible.

        (Though to you and everyone else reading this: what’s an alternative to the SAB for making reading the Bible less boring, that applies to the entire Bible?)

        Re: everything else: read next week’s chapter and you’ll see what’s wrong with what you’ve just said.

  • Jon H

    Really excited for this, I loved your first book.

    My only real critique with this chapter is that it confused me. Is your book going to be about why Christianity is false or are you going to be defending Dawkins and Harris? It seemed to me like your book was going to be about the Bible for most of the introduction, then it seemed like it would be about the wider case that Christianity is false and then the last 4 paragraphs showed up and just confused me. It just felt like a big jump that was confusing after the rest of the introduction, which flowed together really well.

    • jamessweet

      I also found that somewhat confusing.

  • Ryan

    “Do you have any better advice on how to make reading the Bible cover to cover less boring?”

    Yeah, turn it into a drinking game: Assign all of your friends to drink every time God wipes out a whole people/ is a complete jerk to some poor peasant person / Commands an animal sacrafice.

  • B-Lar

    I skimmed accross it as I might do with any introduction, and found it light hearted. The license agreement quip was nice, as it is one of those things thats funny because its true and we all do it. After reading Jamessweet’s comment I agree that EULA is probably too acronym-ish for a percentage of the audience.

    I was left a bit unsure of what the point of the book might be right until the penultimate paragraph and even then I was like “so it this an accompaniment to the bible for critical thinkers (like a bible study guide) or is it defending those who think religion is a bit silly, or perhaps both?”. I dont know how to reolve that but maybe I would start by, before the last paragraph to explicitly (re)state what the books purpose is

  • jamessweet

    Confusion over the topic seems to be a common theme here. Maybe you should talk about what the book is going to be about before the PSA? Then the PSA will come off as the digression that it is intended to be…?

    (Oh noes, it’s writing advice! :D )

  • Bradm

    I wasn’t confused about the topic … you pretty clearly say what the book is about. I was just confused as to why you included the first part about the Bible. The “silliness of the backlash” and the “Bible will make you an atheist” seem like totally separate topics to me and if you are trying to make some sort of connection, it wasn’t clear at all. In general I found the “bible will make you an atheist” part boring because its been said so many times and I wish you had said more about the backlash.

    It also wasn’t clear to me if by “backlash” you mean Christians who disagreed with the books or atheists who disagreed. Is this book about the atheist-Christian debates or atheist-atheist debates?

  • movablebooklady

    Erm, shouldn’t it be: “now” making publicly available? Yes, I was a proofreader for many years and I can’t help it.

  • mck9

    Concerning the title: when you refer to “the other guys”, did you mean to snub atheist women? Probably not, but it kind of reads that way. How about “the other folks,” or “all the rest,” or “other baby-eating demonic tools of Satan?”

    • Chris Hallquist

      No snub intended. Not a fan of your suggestions, but maybe “and the rest”? What do people think:

      “Why the backlash against Dawkins, Harris, and the other guys is silly”


      “Why the backlash against Dawkins, Harris, and the rest is silly”

      Personally, I think “guys,” in the plural is pretty widely accepted as gender-neutral, but I’m willing to hear people out on which of these two they prefer.

      • Danny Mason Keener

        If in “the others” you include Hitchens, the backlash is not silly. The war mongering bigot was not a nice guy.

        You are better off without him.

      • jamessweet

        I think mck9 is absolutely right: You’ve gotta change it.

        Now, I confess that I generally use and perceive “guys” as being gender-neutral, and that’s why I didn’t notice this problem when I read through it. But a) not everybody does perceive it that way; and b) even if it were universally perceived as gender-neutral, there are troubling implications (“guys” was not always gender-neutral, and “gals” is pretty conspicuously in no danger whatsoever of becoming gender-neutral, so there is a certain male-normativity on display here).

        You’re the author, so you can pick whatever alternative you like (FWIW, I think “and the rest” is fine). But I think mck9 is dead-on with this, you’ve really gotta change that, especially given New Atheism’s recent high-profile soul-searching in regards to women in the movement and other feminist issues.

        No snub intended.

        Intention is largely irrelevant when it comes to privilege-related issues. I’m sure you know that, but just a reminder. :)

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  • csrster

    Why not?

  • David Hart

    Regarding the SAB: “things the author sincerely considers “good stuff” ” … might I suggest that it’s things the editors sincerely consider good stuff, the ‘author’ being easily construed as the author(s) of the Bible.

  • MichaelF

    My only suggestion is to throw the whole title open to suggestions at the end when people have already commented on the actual chapters. For instance, something about the whole title didn’t sit well with me but based on your previous outlines of the actual book it’s something I’d really like to read, so there might be a mismatch that might be improved by leaving it till the end.

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  • @blamer

    Late to the party…

    I agree with above commenters; first set context for New Atheism, then remind us that monotheism means the Book.

    It’s unclear who you’re writing for. (Deconverting fence-sitters raised christian who find Dawkins too preachy? Doubtful they’ll pick up a bible, or your explicitly pro-atheist book.) Perhaps your book is a critique of for those saying the atheist-movement is as wrong as evangelism. You’d be arguing for “less wrong”.

  • Alexander Anderson

    I’m sorry, this is a nit-picky thing, but did you have to clarify what the Iliad and the Odessey are? It disrupts the flow and kinda insults the reader. If there are people who don’t know what they are, let them look it up!

  • smidoz

    I’m really late to the discussion, but there are a few things if you’re still working on brushing things up, there just a couple of things. You title is not as compelling (certainly not to me as a potential Christian reader) as Then End of Faith; The God Delusion or God is not Great, so if was looking for critical books, yours wouldn’t be near the front of the line.

    I battled reading through the whole Bible after Job, there’s no fun reading a Hymn book, so I’d say that you could make the Bible both more interesting, & easier to understand, by suggesting some kind of Chronological plan, at least the prophets & Psalms gain some kind of context.

  • Ben

    You say Dawkins goes further, talking about religious violence ‘but’ also morality, indicating Harris has not, which is false, as Harris has a chapter entitled ‘A Science of Good and Evil’.

    Just a nitpick.

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