Well, I just put in my order to try to improve the surge – now’s as good a time as any to put in my review.

The Irrational Atheist – By Vox Day
A Review By Jamsco

First, a disclaimer: I am biased to like this book. Again, here is a book that is Christian in paradigm and written by a friend of mine. In addition, this book is unique among all books in the work in that it has my name in it, sort of. You can see the word ‘Jamsco’ on page vii. Hey, that’s me!

I must admit it was a kick to go through these chapters, chapters from a real live book that was going to be published, and try to find flaws and problems. It was a bigger kick to be thanked for it in print.

Second, a quick Summary: In this book, Vox takes on 3 (or 5 depending on how you count it) noted atheist authors and attempts to show that they are wrong. He also tackles many of the common arguments that atheists (and agnostics) use against religion in general and Christianity specifically, such as the Inquisition, the crusades, Hitler, faith verses science, etc. And he does all of this on their terms, i.e. (mostly) without Bible verses.

Third – The Rating – 8.5 out of 10 

Fourth, the actual review:

I must say I’m a bit torn on this one. But the tear doesn’t go down the middle of the page; the Good piece is bigger than the Bad. And the Bad I think will come as no surprise to Vox and regular Puppet or Vox readers. So let’s start with the Bad and get it over with, shall we?

They are three.

1. As I have been involved in creative endeavors of late, I am learning something that perhaps most artists/authors/developers already know – Art requires sacrifice. Except for the extremely talented, artists need to choose one good over another in their creative process. So for example, a painter who wants to go for a more impressionistic piece sacrifices realism. A movie director who is going for a stark feel will hesitate to show the beauty inherent in their subject matter. A poet will choose a rhyming word over the word that makes more coherent sense. This is the way it must be. You can’t do everything. I understand this.

Okay, here goes: I disagree with a significant sacrifice that Vox made while writing this book – In some sections, he chose style and tone and sacrificed showing a Christ-like attitude. To be fair, this choice doesn’t show itself that often, but where they are apparent, it is pretty significant. This is unfortunate and I think it might hurt his overall goal.

The most notable example of this is the very first sentence of the first paragraph in chapter one. I will not give it away here, but it expresses a disinterest in the reader’s final destination and (by implication) their relationship with God. Let me be clear – It is an excellent way to start his book. It makes a reader want to read more. But I think it is un-Biblical.

There are other notable places where he is somewhat course (read: not rated G or PG) but to his credit, more than once it is clear that he has chosen the more discreet way of putting things. But it is the first paragraph that really bugs me.

I think it possible that Vox will say that he sacrificed nothing – This is how he really is and he is not ashamed of it. To that I would respond that he needs to read more of Jesus and Paul. I am at his disposal to give him passage suggestions, should he so need.

2. Of course, I can’t write a review of this book without at least mentioning our differing theology. You might be surprised, however, that my principle theological difference with him (omniderigence vs. open theism) is only brought up twice. One is a short paragraph which really only troubles me because he appears to seemingly be suggesting that all Christians agree with him. Of course, this is verifiably false. Applying Occam’s here would point to the implication that he wants his reader to believe that all agree with him on this issue.

Where he really moves into this subject is Chapter 15 (Master Of  Puppets Or Game Designer?). He posted a significant part of this as his lead-in to our online debate (which you can see here). The topic is largely brought up as a response to an extremely lame “logical contradiction” posited by Dawkins. All Vox needs to do here is to create a way to consider God which defeats this contradiction. He does this successfully. His book, his theology – that’s the way it goes.

3. Dates on the helpful chart about the crusades would have made it more helpful.

Two Neutral Statements about the book.
1. Having read this book, I fear that he has presented responses to the most poorly reasoned passages in the atheists’ books and disregarded those sections that were more logically sound. But since I haven’t read any of the targeted authors’ work, I can’t say.

2. Beware – some (okay notably one) of the chapters are thick with tricky vocabulary, intricate history, and difficult concepts. I found it helpful, at the end of harder chapters, to write out what I thought was the main theme. I recommend this. And if, having read it, you are thinking about making a suggestion to the author regarding this: ix-nay on the umbdown-day.

Okay, that took a bit longer that I thought it would. On to the positive:

1. This book succeeds in making his targeted authors look like fools.
2. This book has no short supply of wit and cleverness.
3. Vox managed to find extremely helpful studies and data which prove his point and made me think: How did he conjure that up? That was exactly what he needed to disprove the atheist line of thought on this subject.
4. I learned a fair amount of history by reading this book, and the next time the Crusades or the Inquisition are brought up, I’ll know what to show them.
5. Vox is willing to admit dark things about Christians in the past.
6. This book succeeds in making the idea of an Atheist-run government seem dangerous.
7. Who knew that Schwinn, the bicycle company, was so evil?
8. This book succeeds in showing that religions aren’t the source of all wars, or even the majority of them.
9. I like how he groups the various atheist types. (High Atheists, Low Atheists, etc.)
10. I also appreciated his nomenclature for the three ways of looking at Science.
11. This book is effective in defending religion, specifically Christianity.
12. If there is any fairness in the world, this book will add to the American lexicon.
13. Did I mention that it has a great hook for a first sentence?
14. This book has at least two Python references. One is hidden – can you find it?
15. Extremely astute Responsible Puppet readers will find four words written by me. Hint: It’s a footnote.
16. The last chapter is sweet, short and poignant. It is also more biblical in attitude than the first.
 
It is my prayer, hope and expectation that this book will serve to make atheism less tenable in many minds. I further expect and pray that this book will then push many readers closer to the true God and His Son, make Their existence (and love) look more plausible, and thus glorify Them.  This is the most important goal any book can have.