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The Australian Book of Atheism

Edited by Warren Bonett
Scribe Publications, 2010
RRP $35.00

Reviewed by Merv Bengston.

As a member of the Lay Forum I was interested to read how the book would promote atheism. It is an anthology, perhaps overly long at 440 pages, and comprises widely varying essays by 33 authors.

The first essay gives an account of the achievements of some of the atheists in Australia, including Henry Lawson, Andrew Clark, Bill Hayden and Bob Hawke.

Negative aspects of church activities are emphasised but the conclusion that Australian values of mateship, equality and justice derive substantially from atheism seems overstated.

Several authors claim that Christians have undue influence and are unfairly advantaged in what is not a Christian Australia.

In practice there is no separation of Church and State.

They argue against religious instruction in State schools, Federal funding of religious schools and the school chaplaincy program.

They oppose the public use of swearing of biblical oaths, Christian prayer, the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

They support euthanasia, abortion and feminism and argue that violence, not morality, derives from a belief in God.

Two neurologists argue that belief in the supernatural is a relic of human evolution and that religious experience results from neurological defects.

Counter arguments that the mind is more than the brain and that reported religious experiences are tested before acceptance in mainstream religious communities do not rate a mention.

Christians would support just a few of the viewpoints expressed here and these authors see only bad in religion.

From my different viewpoint, irreligion conjures up images of the tragic histories of some atheistic regimes.

The book obviously is not one to be recommended to new Christians. It would be useful reading for those seeking to understand the thinking of atheists fighting causes that Christians oppose.