I rarely bother to pay much attention to religious diatribes and I certainly don’t let myself be seriously annoyed or offended by them, but once in a while, something comes along that is so offensive that I can’t keep my mouth shut. Before I discuss it, it’s only fair to say that I’m a life long atheist. I didn’t convert from any religion because I wasn’t brought up in any religion. I don’t hate god, because it would be insane to hate something that doesn’t exist. I don’t think all believers are deluded or stupid. I don’t feel the need to persuade anyone that atheism is superior to religion.
But … When a deliberately insulting and provocative book is thrust into my face almost every time I go to one of my usual sites, then I have to speak up, even if what I say only amounts to a rant. The site is GoodReads, and the book, which is being advertised heavily, is The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief. The title is a red flag that says, so that no one can mistake the message, that disbelief in the Christian god is a corrupting influence.
In the guise of a supposedly logical and rational discussion of the value of Christianity, this is a diatribe no different from the rantings of any shouter on the street who waylays bypassers in order to thrust a printed version of “the truth” into their hands. The author very typically tries to whip up indignation about a situation which doesn’t exist–“May this book serve to remind us all just how diseased the body politic can become in the absence of Christian influence.” And this is being published in a country in which the conservative Christian right has become an aggressive and backward-looking influence that has its fingers in every aspect of American politics.
It isn’t necessary to delve very deeply into the book. Within the first few pages, the author’s stance is made sickeningly clear. “My defense is limited to Christianity. What interest does a Christian have in defending suicide bombing and Sharia law? To this extent the New Atheists are right: some religions are irrational. Indeed, from a Christian perspective, all that do not lead to Jesus Christ are dead ends.” The only true religion is the one that leads to Jesus Christ, and that, of course, allows him to smear all Muslims with responsibility for suicide bombings and Sharia law. How is such a stance different from that of any religious fanatic? It’s the old story of my religion vs every other religion, and only mine is the correct one.
Anyone who’s offended by what I’ve said is free not to continue reading this blog. I posted it to express my feelings, not as an invitation to a debate, and I will delete comments that resort to personal insult.