Category Archives: book reviews

Alvin Plantinga savages Philip Kitcher’s new book, but makes dumb philosophical errors

My friend Philip Kitcher (a philosophy professor at Columbia who also teaches courses on James Joyce!) has written a new book, Life After Faith: the Case for Secular Humanism, based on his Terry Lectures at Yale. After dismissing religions as fairy tales (not his language. for he’s a gentleman), Kitcher gets down to his real […]

My review of E. O. Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth”

UPDATE: I forgot to add a good piece by Steve Pinker which is required reading if you’re being seduced by the idea of group selection. “The false allure of group selection” is published on the Edge website. It’s followed by an online “discussion” involving 23 Edgies. __________ E. O. Wilson has a new book out, The […]

My take on NOMA: an old book review

Several readers called my attention to a nice essay by biologist David Barash in today’s New York Times, an essay whose theme is the incompatibility of science and religion. In it, Barash takes out after Steve Gould’s accommodationist stance of Non-overlapping Magisteria, or NOMA, adumbrated in detail in Gould’s 1999 book Rocks of Ages. When that […]

A positive review of Karen Armstrong’s book: frantic osculation by Ferdinand Mount

A negative review in the Telegraph of Karen Armstrong’s new book—Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence—has been balanced by a very positive review in the Spectator, “Religion does not poison everything—everything poisons religion.” The reviewer is Ferdinand Mount—Baronet Mount to you—who was editor of the Times Literary Supplement for 11 years. As you know if […]

Keeping the faith: an apologist argues that religion isn’t responsible for anything bad

Guess who said this? In the past, many of the most influential Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call “God” is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable […]

Frank Bruni at the NYT discusses Sam Harris’s new book

As I’ve mentioned before, Sam Harris has written a new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, which will be on sale September 9.  Full disclosure: I’ve read it and given it a blurb: “As a neuroscientist, Sam Harris shows how our egos are illusions, diffuse products of brain activity, and as a long-term […]

The Thinking Atheist’s book

Just a quick note: Seth Andrews, who hosts “The Thinking Atheist,” one of the best and most popular podcasts for the godless, wrote a book about his deconversion from evangelical Christianity to atheism.  I met Seth at the “Imagine No Religion” meeting in Kamloops; he was a great guy and gave a fascinating talk about how […]

The bonobo and the atheist-basher: Frans de Waal disses atheism

I’m not sure I want to provide a full, free-standing review of Frans de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist, but I can give some excerpts and thoughts, especially because I’m four-fifths of the way through the book. But unless it changes drastically in the last 40 pages, I think I’m on pretty good ground in […]

Anthony Grayling reviews Barbara Ehrenreich’s book on the numinous

I’ve posted several times about Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything (e.g.,here, here [on Isaac Chotiner’s interview with Ehrenreich], and here [on the New York Times review of the book]). The reason the book deserves scrutiny is because Ehrenreich is a great author who’s written many absorbing […]

Allen Orr slams Nicholas Wade’s new book

Allen Orr, my first Ph.D. student, has developed a thriving career as a popular book reviewer, and in this week’s New York Review of Books, he critique’s Nicholas Wade’s new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History. I made a few comments on this book a few days ago, saying that it was in the […]

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