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Publisher's Summary

Militant atheism is on the rise. In recent years, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have produced a steady stream of best-selling books denigrating religious belief. These authors are merely the leading edge of a larger movement that includes much of the scientific community.

In response, mathematician David Berlinski, himself a secular Jew, delivers a biting defense of religious thought. The Devil’s Delusion is a brilliant, incisive, and funny book that explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it is the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world.

©2009 David Berlinski (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Devil's Delusion

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Entertaining and Enlightening

It is a curiosity that a book written by an atheist, or at least an agnostic, who is a mathematician, could hold me in such wrapt attention. I have one regret only; that this book had an ending.

11 people found this helpful

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Masterful Argument in Masterful Prose

Berlinski makes easy work of the pretense of knowledge exuded by atheist intellectuals. Along the way, the reader is exposed to a staggering breadth of scientific knowledge and a penetrating wit. Berlinski has a way of formulating subtle but devastating jokes at his opponents' expense, all while remaining a gentleman.

Unfortunately, the narrator used some... creative pronunciations, even for very obvious words such as "Jupiter" when reading a passage about Elijah and the JUNIPER tree. Overall, though, he did a splendid job of capturing the sarcastic spirit of the author's many jests.

10 people found this helpful

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A Logical and Concise Criticism of Modern Atheism

What made the experience of listening to The Devil's Delusion the most enjoyable?

Berlinski's prose is second-to-none. I could read his writings all day long and never tire.

What did you like best about this story?

Berlinski's ability to see "behind the curtain", as it were, and expose the nonsensical nature of modern, militant atheism and cosmology.

Which character – as performed by Dennis Holland – was your favorite?

Not really applicable for this book...

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions"
The official subtitle works great.

Any additional comments?

(Taken from my Amazon review)
After [listening] this book for the [third] time, I have to say that it comprises one of the most logical and well developed criticisms of atheism in the modern day. Berlinski is clear in stating that he himself is not a believer, but an agnostic Jew. Only, he can see the glaring holes in conventional cosmology and atheism clearly enough to feel the need to defend the often derided alternative world view of a higher power. And this is something he does extremely well.
For a topic so ensnared by controversy and ad-hominem debate, Berlinski remains level headed and admits when his points are less than certain. This is not to say that his arguments lack evidence or efficacy, just that he's willing to admit when something is simply unprovable when so many others will not.
If you're open enough to critically challenge your world view, I can't recommend this book enough. It is superlative among its peers and remains one if the best works in this ever fiery category.

32 people found this helpful

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interesting view

I'm a firm believer in reading different viewpoints especially on important matters. this is a well written book with a secular view.

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Great perspective!

David created a way to look into the mind of the sceptic and divulge their worries and questions.

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Only serves to reinforce your beliefs

This book functions best as comedy. The "burns" are indeed sick in a formal sense, but the fact still remains that no matter how hard you fight against science's "pretensions", it makes little difference. Science "won" when the religious stance stopped being the default one. The rate of conversion from the "religion" of religion to the "religion" of science is quite healthy, while the opposite does not hold. This is because to most people who are not born into a religious tradition, to adopt its premises as a fully rational adult is quite absurd. Meanwhile, many religious people can discern the appeal and rationality of fields such as physics or biology even (or rather, especially) in the later stages of their intellectual development. This is why atheists are often prone to think of religion as "parasitic". If you've never been exposed to it, you are unlikely to feel its absence, whereas people who have always been religious find it difficult to discard it even if they want to. An inordinate amount of time is spent in this book speaking of how this or that field or theory of science is "shaky" and "suspiciously convenient" and "absurd at face value". That is not an argument against atheism. It's not even an argument in favor of religion. It makes little difference whether those specific theories or even if those entire fields are bogus, because why the hell would our default starting point be theism? The most reasonable default starting point is to make no assumptions about the state of the universe. And from this most reasonable starting point, "debunking" any number of scientific theories makes no difference, because science is not a prerequisite to believing nothing. To borrow an argument from the author, I sure hope everyone has the common sense necessary to realise that it doesn't take anything to believe in nothing, and science is part of that group of "anythings". Ultimately, this book did not go in the direction I expected it to go. I had hoped that this book would make the argument that even if the literal interpretation of religious doctrines is quite unlikely, it still promotes good values and that therefore the harsh atheist criticism of it is unreasonably tough. Because it occurs on God's home turf, thought, this argument is much more persuasive in favor of religion than throwing tantrums over how science is unintuitive to the lay man.

2 people found this helpful

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Smug collection of nonsequitur strawmen

I make no claims about the existence or not of a creator, but just as an argument what a pile of disconnected and claims with just enough use of scientific jargon to give ppl the impression that's he said something smart.
6+ hrs of "I know you are but what am I" rejoinders.
Is there fallacy in the idea that if science can't prove there's a God that means there is no God? Absolutely.
Is the argument that if science can't explain all things then there must be a God just as stupid? Absolutely.
Don't waste your time.

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Riddled With Problems

I'm currently in the middle of this book, but even if I found the rest of it completely revelatory and satisfying I would still be writing this review.

Also, before I get into the problems with content, I have to say that Dennis Holland's narration is pretty monochromatic and robotic. I wondered for a moment if they'd gotten a more sophisticated Microsoft Sam or Siri type of program to read this book, so take that into consideration.

I came to this book as someone who's currently trying to figure out what I really believe about the nature of the universe and the existence of God. I've been reading books on science, theology, various religions, etc. - so I worked this one into the rotation in the hope that it would continue to broaden my perspectives and help me learn about things I've yet to.

I have been severely disappointed.

To begin with, Berlinski's prose - while well-worded - is absolutely dripping with disdain and condescension. Time after time he strays so far into self-congratulatory narcissism with his word choice and style that this book practically grinds to a halt. He spends paragraphs just calling people names and outlining how he doesn't like this person or what they've said; but rarely does he offer specific reasons as to why he finds someone "odious" or enumerate counterpoints to their hypotheses. Where something resembling a counterpoint can be offered, he invokes philosophers and thinkers of history - sometimes ancient history - without any consistency. At one point he uses David Hume against one of his targets, and then later turns his sneering condescension on David Hume's thinking itself. Moreover his dependence on historical philosophy and science flies in the face of history and science; two things that are constantly having to be updated as new facts come to light.

His big opening argument is one of the most tired and well-addressed of all: Nazis. To paraphrase and simplify "The Nazis were atheists, obviously the Nazis were evil, so clearly atheism is evil." Apart from the fact this argument completely ignores the socio-political history of Germany, numerous psychological factors on an individual and group scale, and grossly oversimplifies geopolitical climate - it's simply not true. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord" ... That's a two-fer, Hitler invoking traditional Christian thought and creationist ideology. But Himmler and Rosenberg espoused pagan beliefs founded in the myths of Germanic folklore. Kerrl even believed that Christianity could be integrated into Nazism as part of the official party platform. So if you're going to call out the Nazis for being atheists, you've got to contend with a mountain of evidence that says the opposite - or at the very least that they were simply moral degenerates who used whatever philosophical and religious means they could get their hands on to manipulate the people and justify their actions. But calling that behavior "atheism" instead of just "evil" is unforgivably reductive and inaccurate, and Berlinski marches right past those more complex ideas while patting himself on the back for so thoroughly revealing atheism to be the real reason Nazi Germany happened in the first place.

The book is filled with these kinds of oversimplifications and logical fallacies. When he's not invoking ad hominem argument attacks against those he deems intellectually inferior, he's rattling off war/genocide statistics for several minutes. I mean this quite literally; at one point in his riposte against the idea that the 20th century has seen a largely improved human condition (historically speaking) he lists all the wars and genocides and dictatorships that occurred during the 20th century along with their estimated death tolls. I don't know how long it took, but it felt like an eternity listening to the almost robotic narrator go on and on and on when the same point could just have easily been made in a few short sentences. Berlinski seems, however, far too interested in making his point as laborious and pretentious as possible.

Elsewhere he says "Science has no method - like golf - beyond the trivial." This, by the way, in a paragraph denouncing what he perceives as the pretentiousness of the scientific method and the arrogance of those who invoke it. I am genuinely stumped by how a man so demonstrably brilliant (his bibliography touches on topics of mathematics far more complex than I personally can claim to fully understand) can so arrogantly accuse others of arrogance. I'm even more stumped at how an agnostic and self proclaimed secular Jew with no active belief in the supernatural can so abhor the scientific method; arguably the cornerstone of empirical thought and research.

There are sparks of good arguments in here, there really are. There is so much fertile ground for intelligent discussion and debate regarding NOMA, or how Big Bang cosmology squares and/or doesn't square with the ideas of creationism and intelligent design, or the difficulties that Darwinian evolution still has to overcome from a theoretical standpoint, or the havoc wreaked by even the most well-intentioned scientific endeavors...the list goes on. But in place of thoughtful arguments (meaning an explanation of the shortcomings/strengths, and then an offer of counter-argument against/in favor) Berlinski is only interested in poking holes and then using his considerably impressive vocabulary (the man is undoubtedly a wordsmith) to stand back and admire his own intellect. If this book were drained of its ad hominem arguments, false dilemmas, arguments from incredulity, snarky rhetorical questions, laborious lists, insufferable arrogance in the face of easily cited fact, and some plain-old-playground-name-calling...it could fit on a napkin. And that's just the kind of catty putdown with which this book is filled, by the way.

The entire book is effectively one long argument from its own conclusion, so if you're just looking for some cleverly-worded phrases and putdowns to spit at atheists during your next rant - you have come to the right place and you won't find a more gleefully kindred spirit in that endeavor than David Berlinski. But if you're currently trying to find well-constructed arguments for belief in the supernatural, you would be much better off in the hands of C.S. Lewis, Francis Collins, John Lennox, or even Ravi Zacharias.

89 people found this helpful

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A dazzlingly logical presentation!!

Largely devoid of theology, the author argues the case in the evolutionists own vernacular and fittingly so: for science itself (honest science anyway), demands that the relationship between theory and observation must be congruent! If, after due diligence, there exists deviation from that fundamental requirement, then the SEEKER OF TRUTH IN FACT, must yield to observation, abandon silly postulation, and go back to theory for resolution. Can there be any other way with concrete reason?? Come now all ye that thirst for truth in fact; let us REASON together with logic and prudence, leaving behind superstition and wild speculation. Instead, may we put the evidence to the test and follow it with open minds to wherever it leads.

It lies within us to be seekers or inquisitors. Have we not had our fill of the latter at the expense of the former?? Therefore, let freedom of thought be among the expressions of our humanity as we gallup around the cosmos in our spaceship Earth.

9 people found this helpful

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Trouble for Believers

This book was so misleading I don't know where to start. I am a seeker and have been reading everything I can find on the topic of spirituality, God, the afterlife and the like. I am also a technical person and am very interested in science and technology. I have stayed away from these kinds of books because many times the author jumps right in to scriptural references as a source of authority. I reject the premise that any book is authoritative. To me, books are informative, some more than others.
Mr. Berlinski does not use the Bible or other book as a source of authority, he uses his opinion as a source of authority. Also, the mood of the book is weird, it does not seem to try to inform the reader. It seems like it's an opportunity to berate various people (who are named time after time) that disagree with the author. Combine the mood with the way this book is read and it ends up being downright snarky. This is a huge red flag that the author cannot formulate plausible arguments and is resorting to tactics like " nanner nanner boo-boo."
I recently finished an Audible lecture series called "Why Evil Exists." The lecturer is incredibly well informed and presents views from various beliefs without the slightest hint of bias. The material just flows at you in a beautifully organized and lucid manner. It was a delightful listen.
This book is the antithesis of "Why Evil Exists." It is wholly biased and is spat at you in a disrespectful and marginally organized way. It gets a 10 on my scale of 100 for lucidity. Frankly, it was insulting. I listened to the entire book so that I could write this review. Otherwise, I would have stopped somewhere in chapter one.
For those who already know the answers, you don't need this book to tell you what you believe. For those seeking information, well, it will be difficult to pick much out of this book.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Charles
  • 05-16-15

Atheism's highjack of science debunked

Mathematician Berlinski convincingly exposes the atheist attempts to highjack science for its own agenda

8 people found this helpful

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  • UKJ
  • 12-24-19

The Logical Conclusions!

This is simply a must-have, must read, must listen, for any 'child ', man or woman! The logic in this book is irrefutable! Absolutely beautiful! I have enjoyed every single minute of it and it leaves the reader or listener with the urge to read the book of wisdom, in my case it is the book of book's, the bible' ... ! The questions David Berlinski addresses are numerous, intelligent, and inexhaustible ...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Y. Syed
  • 12-08-19

Much needed and useful

A much needed and useful examination of the dogmas of Atheism and its pretentious claims to being based in science.
The display of the _scientific_ community’s atheists blocking, silencing and de-platforming of any all who undermine or go against their dogma - was very enlightening - and is in my eyes anti-science! I.e. the search for evidence to fit/further the dogma/ideology vs. Observing and testing and basing opinions on what has been observed…
It speaks to a very troubling trend in the scientific community to not challenge the dogmas; à la climate change…

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  • crumpets
  • 05-24-19

A masterpiece

A decisive deconstruction on modern materialist, mechanistic and atheist thought. This book is a must read for a serious student of the subject.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T.A
  • 05-19-19

Good content but a meaty read (listen)

Raises some very interesting objection dusted with welcome bits of humour. Complex concepts mean rewinding!

1 person found this helpful

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  • tim royales
  • 03-21-19

Interesting listen

Needs to give it a second listen but some very thought provoking parts. Thanks. Enjoyed it 👍

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael Whalley
  • 01-20-18

Fifth time listening, brilliant, honest, ...

David Berlinski Interlectual giant . witty, brilliant, honest, feared by the arrogant.


Burst the windbags

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-04-19

Silly and stupid

It was a silly and intellectually stupid book and I do not recommend reading unless you want to be amused by the author's sillyness.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-03-19

interesting view of this topic

it's a book that has a lot of information it can be hard to follow if you are distracted with highly recommended this book