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Publisher's Summary

A lifelong unbeliever finds no reason to change his mind.

Are there any logical reasons to believe in God? Mathematician and best-selling author John Allen Paulos thinks not. In Irreligion he presents the case for his own worldview, organizing his book into 12 chapters that refute the 12 arguments most often put forward for believing in God's existence. The latter arguments, Paulos relates in his characteristically lighthearted style, "range from what might be called golden oldies to those with a more contemporary beat. On the playlist are the first-cause argument, the argument from design, the ontological argument, arguments from faith and biblical codes, the argument from the anthropic principle, the moral universality argument, and others." Interspersed among his 12 counterarguments are remarks on a variety of irreligious themes, ranging from the nature of miracles and creationist probability to cognitive illusions and prudential wagers. Special attention is paid to topics, arguments, and questions that spring from his incredulity "not only about religion but also about others' credulity".

©2008 John Allen Paulos (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Paulos is truly funny....This little book...provides both atheists and religious apologists some digestible food for thought." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Would probably be more understandable in print.

I want to make it plain that while I am going to be critical of this book, it is not because I'm a believer in god who doesn't want to believe the author's arguments. I am, like the author, an atheist. So while the author and I would agree on most of his material, I simply don't think he conveyed it all that well.

The author is a mathematician. In the preface, he says that you don't need to be a mathematician to understand his book because he didn't put a single formula in it. There may be no formulae, but he uses plenty of mathematics throughout the book which is not easy to follow in an audio book. There is much talk of sets and A + B and probability, etc. During much of this, my mind just sort of tuned out, waiting for something to come along that was more easily understandable. Whereas in a print book I could have slowed down to grapple with the math, in an audio book, it's not that simple to go over the last sentence a second time.

Also, this is a short book, and he tries to cover a lot of material in a brief way. Many times I didn't think he succeeded very well. I didn't always understand what the question was, and other times I felt that I understood the question but didn't see how his argument applied to it. His habit of introducing irrelevancies in order to be amusing didn't help. Was this or that strand of thought pertinent to the argument? How? Other times I felt that a question was just given too little space. He would quote some author who wrote a 1200-page book on a topic, and just move on, leaving us to take his argument on faith, I guess.

As you can see, I gave this 3 stars. I don't feel that it was a bad book, but it wasn't a particularly good one on the topic either, particularly in the audio form. If you are interested in the book, I would recommend that you check it out of your public library.

25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Micheal
  • columbia, SC, United States
  • 04-09-12

This is exactly the way I view religion.

Would you listen to Irreligion again? Why?

I have already listened to it twice. I enjoyed the way the author tried to make the reader understand the fact that as an Atheist / Agnostic you are almost vilified. As if morals are the exclusive right of those people who are religious.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Irreligion?

When the author talks about the fact that Atheists / Agnostics are the most under represented group in this country. I don't think people understand that you can not become President of this country if you are not a Christian. It's very difficult to choose a a political group when none of them share your views.

What about Dick Hill’s performance did you like?

Dick Hill is one of the best narrators i have heard. He makes listening to even a dry book enjoyable. I always know that a book will be at least bearable no matter how boring it is.

If you could give Irreligion a new subtitle, what would it be?

I liked the fact that the current title is tells you what is in the book. You can guess that there will be some kind of mathematical equations at some point. Don't let that scare you off. It's not that tough to understand if try and look at it with a logical mind set.

Any additional comments?

This is not a lazy day, easy breezy book. It will require you to pay attention and try to understand . That's why you get a book like this.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • joseph
  • TULLY, NY, United States
  • 04-02-12

irreilgion just may be god's plan

What made the experience of listening to Irreligion the most enjoyable?

exploration of the varied reasons that people develop religious beliefs in a very analytic fashion but the author seems to be in a great rush to conflate a scientific analysis of why people have religious beliefs with faulty thinking on their part.

What other book might you compare Irreligion to and why?

God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

What does Dick Hill bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

a clear sound

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Complaining

He promised mathematics and analytics, but it really just sounded like overhanded complaining about religion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Greg
  • Springfield, OR, United States
  • 04-09-12

Interesting but likely better delivered in print

John Alllen Paulos delivers a pretty straightforward look at disbelief using hard logic. Since the book uses logic problems (although little math), I found myself reaching for the rewind button to make sure I grasped the example or lost if I let my mind wander. I think as a book, would allow one to digest any of the exercises a little more easily. Irreligion isn't a damnation of religion as much as other works by Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins, nor would I expect devoutly religious to change their opinion having read it as it pertains strictly to the realm of logic. However, it is meant to provide a solid ground for logical arguments for atheism.

Much of the book is derived from basic if A+B = X then X must be... Its not the sort of topic that makes for excitement/entertainment so just be forewarned. I bought this having read some of the reviews.

Was the book bad? No, but some things aren't well suited for certain mediums. I think Irreligion is an example as an audiobook vs book. Its certainly listenable, but just not inviting and likely why this book has only received a 3 star average.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Burt
  • Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 03-25-12

Boring and obvious...

What disappointed you about Irreligion?

I am a confirmed Atheist and cannot understand why anyone would believe in a supernatural being, yet I found this book boring and exceedingly obvious. I quit less than an hour into it, unable to stand the boredom of the poor writing.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator wasn't all that bad, but he had nothing to really work with.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Trivial Pursuit

A trivial treatment of a serious subject. I think the solid Darwin and Dawkins books say far more about the important subject. Further, Paulos has an irritating cute style.

And what you learn from all of them is that there might be a God. Unlikely maybe but still......

1 of 3 people found this review helpful