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Ch. 1 - What about gods? 
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garicker wrote:
But the whole book is a personal statement. Wasn't that clear from the outset?


Actually, it wasn't. Throughout my reading of the book, I labored under the illusion that it was meant to initiate discussion about public issues that needed resolution. Even more, I thought the introduction had indicated that your personal viewpoint was something you felt compelled to give as a matter of full disclosure, but which you intended to make a matter of secondary important in the interest of facilitating a fuller consideration and discussion of the issues. It seemed to me that you had intentionally presented that as the goal of the book, both because of your subtitle and by virtue of the way that you worded the introduction. So if I've gone into this discussion thinking that the point was to try to get some perspective not on what you believe, but rather what was at stake in the circumstances of current events, it's because it wasn't, to me, clear at the outset that you hadn't had that in mind. My apologies.



Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:36 pm
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I'm not sure how I could have been any clearer. Here's the way I end the introduction:

"Religionists are fond of presenting testimonials and personal experiences as 'proof' of the truth of their beliefs. They invest a great amount of time and energy attempting to persuade the rest of us that there are no real alternatives to the god-idea and belief in a deity is absolutely essential to one's well-being."

"But there are alternatives to that viewpoint. In my experience those alternatives provide the opportunity for a life that is far superior to one lived under the influence of religion. Consider what follows to be my testimonial. However, unlike religionists, I do not offer my personal experience as proof of anything, and I do not expect anyone to take what I have to say on faith or to simply take my word for it. Do your own investigation, conduct your own inquiry, make your own decision based upon what is best for your life."

"Religious practitioners claim belief in a god is the indispensable ingredient for human existence. I have come to think otherwise."

"Let me tell you why."

Mad, I really don't see how I could have made things any clearer than that, and I don't understand how anyone who read that could have had any illusions at all about what was to follow.

George


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George Ricker

"Nothing about atheism prevents me from thinking about any idea. It is the very epitome of freethought. Atheism imposes no dogma and seeks no power over others."

[i][b]mere atheism: no gods


Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:48 am
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I don't have the book before me at the moment, so I can't point out to you specifically why I thought there was another purpose to the book, but I will cite three specific reasons that contributed to my false impression.

1) The subtitle. The term "conversations" implied to me some element of back and forth, even if only in hypothetical terms, since it isn't really possible to listen and respond in book format.

2) Language like "there is a need to talk about these subjects to the broad mass of people, and to do so in a way that is neither patronizing nor elitist." (I'm drawing here from text I quoted in the introduction thread.) Again, that seemed to imply to me that what you wanted to initiate was a discussion of certain topics, and I inferred a desire for a certain amount of reciprocity.

and
3) The organization of the book around social issues. If it had simply been a book about atheism and how that impacts (or, at least, might impact) a person's life, I probably wouldn't have seen it as a persuasive book. But the issues you tackle seem to invite a certain amount of involvement. In fact, it looks to me as though you spend precious little of the book talking about what you believe, and an awful lot of time characterizing and assessing what other people believe and how that impacts society.

And, of course, because it's always a factor in how any person addresses something they've read, I'm sure part of it was what I brought to the book before I even opened it. You may feel inclined to suppose that's the crucial factor -- you're entitled to your own assessment. But as an author interested in securing some sort of audience, it may be in your best interests to err on the supposition that my predisposition only counts for part of the misunderstanding.

Ultimately, though, I will say that I'm typically astute enough as a reader to adjust my expectations -- even expectations that were set by the preface of a book -- to the apparant intent of a book's body. If the bulk of the chapters had seemed to definitely disconfirm my understanding of what you intended, then I almost certainly would have re-evaluated those expectations.



Mon Oct 08, 2007 8:27 pm
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Well, Mad, I guess all I can say is that if anything I wrote created a false impression of what the book was intended to be, it certainly wasn't my intention to do so.

FYI, the use of the word "conversations" in the subtitle was aimed more at an indication of the style of the book than the substance. What I was trying to do was indicate that the tone of the book was conversational, rather than academic.

George


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"Nothing about atheism prevents me from thinking about any idea. It is the very epitome of freethought. Atheism imposes no dogma and seeks no power over others."

[i][b]mere atheism: no gods


Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:40 pm
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