High hopes but ultimately disppointed
The Good Book: A Humanist Bible
The Happy Humanist @ 2011-05-02
It is a frequent misconception that atheists have an agenda, a credo or a set of beliefs. While every atheist I've ever met has strong personal feelings about morality and the nature of man, most will agree that one of the most rewarding aspects of humanism is the freedom from dogma. Unlike theists, we do not run to a book or a priest or a guru for answers - we each find our own truth using our ability to observe and reason. However, many of us search for inspiration in the ideas of others - not so that we can adopt them without contemplation, but so that we might chew and digest them.
That is what I hoped to find in The Good Book - intellectual fodder, culled from the greatest minds in history. While several books compile quotations regarding atheism or humanism, many of these are simply snarky jabs at religion. I was expecting The Good Book to be kernels of goodness, wisdom and beauty but instead I got a cheesy imitation of The Bible. Instead of offering snapshots of humanity's accumulated wisdom, Grayling has boiled it all down to a bland pap. The passages feel hollow and trite and are every bit as tedious to read as The Bible. The strength of humanists lies in the fact that our truth and morality can only be gained through reason and struggle and not from a memorized one-liner taught to us by others. The Good Book ignores this fact, and as a result comes off as an arrogant attempt to present distilled truth and goodness, rather than affording readers the opportunity to meditate on these things for themselves.
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