Monday, September 21, 2015

A New Book Coming Soon: Everybody Is Wrong About God

I've all but vanished from blogging, due to a number of constraints on my time and interests. Not least of these is the process of having written and begun to finalize my next book, Everybody Is Wrong About God, which will be published by Pitchstone Press, with whom I'm very happy to be working. It should be available on the first of December (though it is available for pre-order on Amazon now!).

It's relatively short and has a nice foreword by my friend and colleague Peter Boghossian, of A Manual for Creating Atheists fame, who was kind enough to describe the book as "crucial," "a signpost at a crossroads," and taking "a completely novel approach." 

Everybody Is Wrong About God is, frankly, an ambitious project of mine in which I aim to completely pull the rug out from under theism and theology. With them, therefore, atheism has to go too. My goal, then, is nothing less than turning the first page in a new chapter, one that points us toward a new post-theistic phase in human history--one that leaves God behind, for good (and I mean that both ways).

Not wanting to spoil too much of the fun too early, I won't elaborate too much on how I argue this case save to say that I draw deeply from the psychological literature in an attempt to reveal theism for the myth that it is. Though the curious will have to wait until December 1, I should be appearing on a number of podcasts and other venues over the next couple of months to provide pretty substantial nuggets of my thoughts on these matters.

Here, though, to give a little bit of a taste of where I'm going with it, I want to share my very short preface to the book. I'll also include the table of contents below that. At the very least, Everybody Is Wrong About God is a preview of what the last chapter of humanity's theistic phase should look like, and hopefully, a guide drawing a line from where we are now to there.

Without further ado, then, I submit the following for your consideration.

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Preface

I’m going to start this book by telling you a few things that do not seem to go together. Everyone will find these things controversial because everyone is wrong about God.

First, I want to tell you that “God” exists.

Second, I want to tell you that people who do not believe in God have it more or less right, and in fact, that at the level of ideas, their view has already rightfully won.

Third, I want to tell you that the key to getting “God” right, and thus getting over God and on with our lives and societies, is recognizing that belief in God itself is how we get God wrong.

Because “God” exists, when people say “God doesn’t exist,” they are not saying something intelligible to believers. In fact, what they’re saying is worse than nonsense. The trick is that God doesn’t exist; “God” does, and believers hear what they really mean by that word whenever they hear it. All that’s needed is sorting out whatever “God” really means. That is an effort this book will set into motion.

This is not paradoxical. Believers are speaking mythologically about something real, so they all talk about their beliefs in the wrong way. They talk about them theologically, and that’s really mythologically. Thus, they are wrong about God.

Very few nonbelievers understand this fact, and they also do not understand what “God” means. Lacking another way to talk about the topic, they argue in the same mythological language, and thus they are also wrong about God. While a lack of belief in the existence of God is the right position, theological terms are the wrong way to engage the topic. “Atheists,” increasingly identifiable as a motivated subset of those who lack belief in God, are particularly keen to commit this error and do so at two major costs.

First, they perpetuate the debate about theism on its own terms, and the continuation of that debate is all the intellectual defense that belief in God has going for it. Second, they set themselves up for a number of avoidable pitfalls, most notably becoming identifiable from the outside with being quasi-religious and, worse, actually becoming such.

Many atheist interest groups currently and ambitiously seek to “normalize” atheism, to make it a normal part of society. Once we understand “God,” we will understand why atheism, as anything that could be misconstrued as a thing, cannot be normalized. As we will see, the first thing “God” means to almost every believer is nearly always “how I understand moral values.” Second (or thereabouts), and intimately related, comes “how I contextualize myself in my culture/community.”

Atheism, from the believer’s point of view, is therefore always heard as a rejection of those values, hence we see rampant mistrust of atheists. We must understand that, alongside everything else it does, religion acts to form moral communities, which allow for a bypassing mechanism to our natural distrust of unknown others under the perception of shared moral and cultural values. Those values are grounded in the idea people call “God.” Atheism stands in negation to those values, as understood by the believer, and so the “theism versus atheism” conversation is doomed.

In too-short summary, “God” means “my values,” and so “atheism” is heard as “I reject your values.” This is why “atheism” needs to die. This is why we need to drop it and go post-theistic. The first step in doing so is understanding how everybody is wrong about God and starting down the road to getting it right.

This book is meant to change how we understand the term “God,” ending theism and theology in their entireties, and thus it will call for a complete rethink on atheism (unthink would be a better word, in fact). In a way, it will be a call back to roots, and in another way, it will be an open door to the next stage of humanity’s future.

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Table of Contents*

  • Foreword by Peter Boghossian - 9
  • Preface - 13
  • Introduction: The Next Rational Move - 15
  • 1. Exposing Theism - 34
  • 2. The End of Atheism - 45
  • 3. Post-theism - 67
  • 4. The Goodness of God - 74
  • 5. “God” - 97
  • 6. Okay, Now What? - 175
  • 7. Uprooting Faith - 179
  • 8. Secularism - 196
  • 9. Unthinking Atheism - 203
  • 10. Filling the Religion Gap - 209
  • 11. Going Post-theistic - 227
  • Conclusion: The Future of Reason - 241
  • Acknowledgments - 245
  • About the Author - 248
*Page numbers unlikely to be final

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Again, Everybody Is Wrong About God will be released on December 1 of this year, and you can go ahead and pre-order it on Amazon.com now.

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