Book Review: The Serpent’s Promise

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Just finished reading this after my wife borrowed it from the library for me. I would agree with the reviews that say it’s a book for the converted to scepticism and is unlikely to appeal to believers unless they are already doubting their faith. It’s also rather scattergun and relates mainly to the first few books of the Old Testament. No attempted debunking of the feeding of the five thousand or the supposed water into wine incident.

But having said that it’s still a rollicking good read packed with interesting science. The bible is more for jumping off points than anything else. Jones will also as usual make you laugh several times.

Not one of his best but still well worth a look and a hat-tip from me for the reference to Göbekli Tepe site in SE Turkey, a further account here. A discovery that had past me by. A temple complex from 12,000 years ago, before agriculture in the fertile crescent. Demonstrating that social organisation and recruitment in hunter gatherers in the period before the agricultural revolution was more than we might have though. To put it into context there is twice as much time between the cities in Ancient Sumer and the present day as between Sumer and Göbekli Tepe.

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Not In My Name

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/25/woolwich-murder-attacks-on-muslims

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22664835

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10080300/Woolwich-attack-provokes-anti-Muslim-backlash-across-UK.html

As the above links attest attacks on Mosques, other Muslim buildings and Muslims themselves have increased significantly since the Woolwich attacks. The people doing this are often trying to induce wider conflict between Muslims and everyone else. But they are not acting this atheist’s name. All communities and especially religious ones have extremists in them (and it is all too easy to dismiss people with the tag). If we let the extremists in the wider community goad us into conflict with ordinary Muslims then we all lose and only the extremists win.

I hold no candle for Islam or any other religion but that doesn’t mean I am against religious freedom. I cannot expect my freedom from religion to be maintained by trying to ban other people from following their religions. Education, reason and evidence and maintaining the secular space where all can meet and debate and atheists and humanists demonstrating they can live moral, contributory lives without religion are the ‘weapons’ we can and should use. With humour, generosity and humility (which comes hard to many atheists, but we must try. Where it’s warranted).