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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its…
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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (edition 2009)

by David Berlinski

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2951257,588 (3.46)7
Member:maveth
Title:The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions
Authors:David Berlinski
Info:Basic Books (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:nonfiction, atheism, discovery institute

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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski

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I don't know what I wanted or expected from this book. From the title and cover, one can see that the author relates Dawkins' God Delusion and instead covers atheism. I suppose being an atheist myself, I would be drawn to the title. "What scientific pretensions?" I thought to myself. So I took it out of the library and well, I hated this book. Although the author makes valid points, I can't help but think he is sneering as he says them. That's just the vibe I get. I suppose it is bias.

The main argument is that science itself relies on faith in some cases, especially when it comes to things that can't be directly observed. This is quite true. We can say that the sky is blue or that protons and neutrons are made up of quarks, but we don't know why things are as they are. This point I concede. When you get deep enough into the why of something, it almost becomes metaphysics. Why is everything? Why is the universe the universe? Why isn't it like this? Why is the Earth the perfect distance from the Sun? Why does life exist at all?

Now I don't know the answers to these questions, and neither do many scientists, but I don't need to bring God(Magic Sky Man) into the equation to explain it all away so that I can sleep at night. I just hope that eventually a scientific reason will pop up. I suppose that could be considered faith, in many ways.

The author also speaks of morals and morality, pointing out that it wasn't the Vatican that ordered the Final Solution or created the Atomic Bomb. Now, although I am an atheist I do actually agree with the Golden Rule. I didn't automatically turn to bawdy deviancy and hedonism to get my kicks. Why is that? I don't know. I never felt the need to do so. I certainly haven't felt the influence of Magic Sky Man in any of these times, prodding me to do the right thing.

In any case, the author demonstrates a good deal of knowledge in the subject of physics. As to the Big Bang, he knows the problems inherent in it with the combination of the very large with the incredibly small. This is a very weak point in physics and is considered the "Holy Grail" if I may use the term. Many a physicist would love to find the Grand Unifying theory. However, the Big Bang can be inferred. There is evidence of it all around us. There is the Cosmic Background Radiation, the Red Shift of the Stars and Galaxies and tons of other stuff. I mean, I guess if Magic Sky Man floats your boat, the entirety of creation could be evidence for his existence, but that would require a great deal of proof.

All in all, though he makes many good points, this book didn't really sit well with me. All I got out of it was Cognitive Dissonance. ( )
1 vote Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
Berlinski is a very good writer, I am well aware of arguments from both sides. I think, he doesn't add anything new in the debate, but lucidly writes about how little we know.

I would say, "Scientists are the New Priests." To question them is to be labelled as, foolish. To not believe in such and such, is to be labelled as fool. Because x is a scientific fact, every one must believe in it. From Popes, Priests, Politicians, Scientists are also fallible.

I'd rather let people decide what they need to believe, they have freedom to believe in, whatever they find persuasive, includes results of methods in inquiry under naturalism.

--Deus Vult
Gottfried. ( )
  gottfried_leibniz | Apr 5, 2018 |
Berlinski is a very good writer, I am well aware of arguments from both sides. I think, he doesn't add anything new in the debate, but lucidly writes about how little we know.

I would say, "Scientists are the New Priests." To question them is to be labelled as, foolish. To not believe in such and such, is to be labelled as fool. Because x is a scientific fact, every one must believe in it. From Popes, Priests, Politicians, Scientists are also fallible.

I'd rather let people decide what they need to believe, they have freedom to believe in, whatever they find persuasive, includes results of methods in inquiry under naturalism.

--Deus Vult
Gottfried. ( )
  gottfried_leibniz | Apr 5, 2018 |
Berlinski totally redeems himself

To post a review of a book on a controversial topic is to invite abuse from one side or the other, so on one level I would have preferred to keep silent, but in fairness to the author I felt I needed to review this book since I gave a (deservedly) negative review to his last book.

I've bought most of the books responding to the "New Atheists", and I've read about half of them so far. In my opinion, while John F. Haught's _God and the New Atheism_ is the most professional of the lot, _The Devil's Delusion_ is the most impressive rhetorically. Someone at National Review Online said that Christopher Hitchens is like the little girl with the curl, in that when he is bad he is horrid, but when he is good, he is very, very good; perhaps the same is true of Berlinski. This is not to say that their styles are similar: Hitchens seems quite careful to say exactly what he means (even if what he means to say is wrong), while Berlinski seems willing to sacrifice precision in order to bring a point home, but both can be quite talented polemicists when their hearts are in it and when they can manage to stay focused. Here, Berlinski's armchair-philosopher approach seems effective to me, and it makes this book much more interesting and thought-provoking than some of the other books by like-minded authors.

Oh, there's plenty to criticize about _The Devil's Delusion_, and I'm not saying that he's won the debate (as if it were even possible for this debate to have a winner), but I'm glad I bought and read this book, and I think many of you who can give it a sympathetic reading may also find it worth your time and money. ( )
  cpg | Oct 14, 2017 |
Excellent expose of the dishonest and sloppy logic used by the leading atheists who would like us to believe that science provides unassailable evidence that natural processes are entirely adequate to explain the universe and life. He often identifies the flaws in atheist philosophy using amusing sarcasm and a rapier fine wit. Delightful read. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307396266, Hardcover)

Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement–one that now includes much of the scientific community.

“The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.”

A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community’s cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on.

Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated.

This brilliant, incisive, and funny book explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it can be–indeed must be–the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world and ourselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. This incisive book explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it can be--indeed must be--the ultimate touchstone for understanding the world.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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