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The Good Book

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Reader rating (540 votes)

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Illustration by Rocco Fazzari.

Reviews

Bound to offend

A.C. Grayling tackles The Good Book

AC Grayling, author

Decca Aitkenhead When it comes to God, this atheistic author is doggedly opposed.

Reader reviews 19

19 reviews so far

  • Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

    "''The reason why it's become a big issue is that religions have turned the volume up because they're on the back foot. The hold of religion is weakening, definitely, and diminishing in numbers."

    Perhaps Grayling needs a dose of Phillip Jenkins, The Next Christendom. This is extraordinary cultural chauvinism - the global South is becoming more Christian not less. He can dismiss the growth of religion in South America and Africa. He can also argue that England is a global centre but he'd be wrong. It is increasingly becoming an outpost of a disappearing culture. Faith-wise and population-wise, my Anglo brothers & sisters, we are becoming an irrelevance. Grayling seems totally unaware of this. The growing impact of China on world stats will not hasten secularity either.

    Even in Australia, the secular growth has slowed and is tempered by our immigration patterns and rise of new religious groups. On the basis of current growth, Australia will have a population of 20% non-Christian religions by 2020 and the Pentecostal Christians will continue to grab market share from European-style denominations. Jenkins predicts there will be as many Pentecostals in 2050 as Hindus. That seems to put a dent in the argument that we are heading towards a "rational" world. If Grayling is an example of a rationalist, that should increasingly become a derogatory term.

    Commenter
    Dangersteg
    Location
    Hobart
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 3:19AM
  • Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

    The concept behind the book is sound.

    Secular growth will continue at a rate commensurate with education.
    Only tyranny can bind the religious to their faith as it dissolves with freedom and logic.

    If secularism had strong political institutions it would overcome much faster but that is not its way.
    Therefore the enlightened enjoy their own freedom and have only to pity those shackled by the bounds of superstition.

    Commenter
    M.
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 5:07PM
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    He's more tolerant of religion than it deserves.

    Commenter
    dust
    Location
    Blue Mountains
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 6:30PM
  • Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

    I haven't read the book and really have no desire. He, like others, will come and go, as will all the others who wish to decry the inerrant truth of the Holy Bible.

    I've tried all the "self-help" and "alternatives", but nothing compares to knowing Jesus Christ as a personal saviour. He has done in my life what no other atheist, naysayer, self-help guru, next-best-thing could ever do.

    And when on his death-bed, to whom will he cry out? And what hope will his family have?

    Commenter
    icanpress
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 6:39PM
  • Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

    This is extraordinary cultural chauvinism - the global South is becoming more Christian not less. He can dismiss the growth of religion in South America and Africa"

    Two continents with populations that high levels of poverty, low skills and low education levels, plus a high take-up of religion.

    Do you see the connection @Dangersteg?

    Commenter
    James
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 7:44PM
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Dangersteg, the Northern Hemisphere is somewhat more populated than the Southern -- about 90% of humanity lives up there. What happens in the global south is not as significant as you or Professor Jenkins seem to think.

    In fact, maths seems to provide more ammunition for Professor Grayling's views. Depending on which set of statistics you believe, the atheist/agnostic/secular set of humanity rates at either the third largest, behind Christianity and Islam, or fourth largest, behind Hinduism as well. Given that this set has only seen significant growth in the last century, as opposed to more than a millennium for each of the other sets, I think Grayling's assertion that religion's hold on the community is lessening is borne out. It would be very nice to see this reflected in government policies as the over-influence of the churches in areas from social policy (why on earth would gay marriage weaken the institution? Nonsense!) to health and medical (birth control and the increasing criminalisation of drug issues that were previously medical, for example) distorts our society in ways that do not improve it.

    Commenter
    Ms D Writes
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 23, 2011, 11:59PM
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Dangersteg, you make many claims but fail to back them up with any evidence, only calls to "predictions" from authority like Philip Jenkins! There is no evidence that religiosity in Australia, the UK or any other western nation (yes, even including the USA) is increasing, in fact the best evidence seems to indicate the opposite is happening, albeit slowly.

    What is happening is that those who continue to believe are becoming more militant, more determined to shout down anyone who disagrees with their superstitions, as they see their belief systems crumbling and their previously unquestioned place in modern societies disappearing. Several of the major religions seem to be determined to fight it out the old fashioned way, with guns, wars and governments that side with one religion or another, to decide who's really got God's ear. The answer is of course that none do, because there is no God, we have to find our own way through life. And that's what Grayling's book was written to help with, it's a lot more useful and sane than the contradictory nonsense from the world's so-called holy books. Books that have led to endless wars, endless slaughter and centuries of hatred, books that have been used to justify slavery, torture and many other crimes against our humanity.

    Commenter
    David S.
    Date and time
    April 24, 2011, 11:15AM
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

    This is great, another opportunity to have more discussion and debate about God...this is a good thing, when people are not thinking about such things it is a sad day indeed!

    Commenter
    Greg
    Date and time
    April 24, 2011, 2:14PM
  • Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

    The atheist bookmarket keeps getting more and more lucrative for impoverished academics. He is entitled to hi opinion, but foolish not to recognise he may be wrong.

    Commenter
    Not Richard Dawkins
    Date and time
    April 24, 2011, 11:20PM
  • Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

    Religion on the back foot, hardly, churches were packed to the rafters all weekend. Pope Benedict is fluent in over 10 languages, the youngest professor ever in Germany and plays mozart concertos in his free time. Leading atheists have nothing on Pope Benedict and no sooner will they disappear and another atheist will come along. People of faith never say everyone must believe in God. Faith is a gift from God, faith is accepting you are not totally in control of your life, and not everything in life is simply explained by reason, as everyone knows, life can be mysterious sometimes. No one can deny the shameful acts committed by the church throughout the ages, but if anyone were to try and list all of the great and noble acts it would be infinitely long and never ending. In a society which places misguided reason over everything and misses the importance of truth, forgiveness, peace and love, people are returning to their faith like never before. Christianity has been around for over 2000 yrs and last year Pope Benedict added an additional 150 dioceses to the Catholic Church. The Bible is almost 2000 yrs old and still relevant today, a source of inspiration for over 1 billion Christians around the world, it is undeniably "timeless" and like no other book ever written in the history of mankind. No one will ever be able to put out the light of Jesus Christ.

    Commenter
    Anthony
    Location
    City
    Date and time
    April 24, 2011, 11:44PM

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