Todd Seavey’s Book of the Month

Well, the second of four, anyhow. I was pleased to learn that Seavey, who happens to be an atheist, found The Irrational Atheist to be “a better book” than Michel Onfray’s Atheist Manifesto, which was the first book he reviewed in his “Month Without God”. It was interesting to see – interesting from a Voxcentric perspective, anyhow – that he also wrote a brief profile of me based on his reading of the book, which, unlike a surprising number of his fellow atheist critics, he actually troubled to read in its entirety:

One of the first things likely to strike an atheist reader is that Day sounds young, smart, hip, and funny, so one can’t simply dismiss him as a crusty old man repeating tired dogma instead of making thoughtful arguments. I think he gets into some unproductive semantic knots but scores many useful points, as I’ll explain tomorrow. Speaking of scoring points, though, it’s interesting how much Day’s background as a videogame designer — not a theologian — influences his philosophical arguments, usually in very positive ways.

As for Mr. Seavey’s lengthy review proper, I’ve posted it in the TIA forums and I’ll have my response to a few of his specific criticisms there later today.

If there’s nothing to atheism proper except an absence, why do these people have to go on about it so much? Day has decided to fight back. He is annoyed by, as he puts it (in words that I must confess have come almost verbatim out of my own mouth at times), Harris-style atheists’ claim “that Man is on the verge of vanishing in nuclear fire unless billions of idiots can be forcibly stripped of their belief in nonexistent sky fairies.”

After some initial insulting of atheists, Day makes some powerful, damning points about the stats on people murdered by atheists vs. people murdered by religion. One’s impression of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris — who rely on claims of religion’s murderous tendencies more than I realized — must be diminished….. Day does us all a service by exposing as false some of the glib slogans of atheism….

He makes the interesting point, for instance, that if the possibility of nuclear war with Iran (or nuclear terrorism) is one of the chief pieces of evidence that religion is dangerous, surely those dangers could be used as arguments against science as well. Religion has existed for thousands of years without destroying the planet, observes Day, yet science risks killing us all after a mere three centuries on the scene. (This argument is not so different from the concessions I make to cautious Luddites in my article on nanotech in the March issue of Reason.)