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Book Review: The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens By Vox Day

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I didn’t want to like this book. I had read up a little on the internet polemicist known as Vox Day after learning that I was going to get to review his book The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Finding authentic information about Mr. Day is easier said than done, as is finding fair opinions about him. There are photographs of him, most of which put him somewhere between professional wrestler Lance Storm and perhaps a hairier update to Agent 47.

Day is, according to the jacket of the book, a “video game design expert and a libertarian opinion columnist.” He does indeed pen a column for WorldNetDaily, a social conservative website that has featured such winning articles in the past as Jim Rutz’s “Soy is Making Kids Gay.” Day is featured on WND along with columnists like Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Medved, and Chuck Norris. Yes, that Chuck Norris.

Vox Day also speaks three languages and is a member of Mensa. His real name is Theodore Beale.

With The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, Mr. Day hopes to target the “New Atheists” and dismantle their arguments without resorting to the Bible or any sort of theology. He hopes to use their best weapons against them.

Day’s book is a polemic commendable of standing against his targets. Antagonists complain about ad hominem attacks and other sorts of logical fallacies, but their unawareness to the same material in the books of their heroes is raucously unambiguous. Day plays the same game as Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and others. He does not claim to do otherwise.

This is not a book that presents a substitute premise to the claims of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. It is, fundamentally, a volume unmistakably designed around the initiative of simply proving them wrong.

The first few chapters serve as preparatory pieces of rhetoric. Day sets his groundwork early before journeying into the particular arguments of his opponents, proposing a classification of High Church and Low Church atheists and arguing that science has done more injury than religion in terms of history. This argument is set up, according to Day, on rhetorical grounds. At any rate, this segment of the book is rather one-dimensional and unpersuasive.

It is when Day gets explicit that The Irrational Atheist takes off.

The bulk of his rancorous hostility is crooked towards Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. He starts with the weakest of the New Atheists, Harris, in a chapter rightly dubbed “The End of Sam Harris.” Day refers to Harris as an “ecstasy using dropout” and takes on Harris’ notion that religious people are intolerant towards atheists/agnostics. Day claims that atheists are not being persecuted anywhere in the world, whereas religious people are being persecuted with great constancy by atheists in China, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea. He especially has fun with Harris’ farcical Red State-Blue State argument.

The chapter entitled “Darwin’s Judas” takes aim at Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Day claims that Dawkins has abandoned science in trying to make his arguments against religion, noting that Dawkins’ lack of contact with the preponderance of religious arguments in The God Delusion. Day claims that Dawkins is not actually interested in considering the question of God’s existence with any authenticity and relies on an obsolete understanding of the “arguments” for faith. The chapter also points out that Dawkins has never explained what scientific proof for God would be adequate and utilizes a reasonably convincing argument involving well-known fractals like the Sierpinski Triangle to counter Dawkins’ “Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit.”

“A Marxian Apostate” is reserved for Christopher Hitchens. Day chooses to let his footnotes (there are a lot of them and not all of them are helpful) do the talking in this chapter, as he takes about five pages in the form of a chart to discuss direct quotes from Hitchens’ god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Day insists that the quotes from Hitchens’ were made without substantiation and, thus, can be refuted without evidence.

Vox Day moves beyond his Unholy Trinity to take on Daniel C. Dennett in “The Pragmatic Philosopher.” Originally intended to be a part of the Trinity, Day explains that Hitchens’ fame actually flung him to the front of the line and left poor Dennett in the backdrop. Day is unseasonably kind with Dennett here, showing admiration for his work and many of his philosophical conclusions. He finds Dennett to be the most thoughtful and courteous of the New Atheists and the chapters regarding him are quite docile.

Day’s final target is an elusive one and a French one. Michel Onfray is given the Vox Day treatment with “The Robespierre of Atheism.” Having read Onfray’s book recently, I found this chapter particularly interesting. Day’s assessment of Onfray and his rejection of common morality are pretty much on target. His notation of Onfray’s “spirituality of the profane” deserves a look, as does his setting apart of the French philosopher from the rest of the New Atheists with Onfray’s “evilness” well in tow.

About Jordan Richardson

  • menachem

    The reason “Day insists that the quotes from Hitchens’ were made without substantiation and, thus, can be refuted without evidence.” is because Hitchens’ himself claims that in his book. Day just lists all the unsubstantiated claims Hitchens makes.

  • onein6billion

    “libertarian”

    A libertarian who obeys commands from his god regardless of whether or not they seem to be atrocities? That’s NOT a libertarian.

    “Day insists that the quotes from Hitchens’ were made without substantiation and, thus, can be refuted without evidence.”

    In other words, I don’t like what you have asserted, so I will assert the opposite.

    “usual game of Matching Atrocities and playing with comparative behaviour”

    And this seems like a rational “argument”?

    “evaluation of the New Atheists’ core arguments”

    And this “evaluation” is what you have discussed above? Phooey on you and him.

  • Jordan Richardson

    onein6billion, have you read the Vox Day book? I merely gave it a brief overview and my review should by no means be a substitute for actually having read the material.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Let me help you out a little further, actually:

    The “libertarian” claim is one Day makes himself both in the book and on his website over at Vox Populi. I put the claim in quotation marks for a reason and any beef you may have with his claim to be a libertarian would have to be taken up with him. He does not go into it in the book.

    In other words, I don’t like what you have asserted, so I will assert the opposite.

    As #1 says, that’s pretty much the case. Hitchens himself is aware that his arguments are largely anecdotal (that’s not to say they aren’t convincing or admirable) and, as is the general theme of Day’s book, the tactic used against Hitchens’ material is similar. You’d have to actually read the chapter to frame this in a proper context and, as this is merely a review of the book and not a reprint of it, I leave that to interested readers.

    And this seems like a rational “argument”?

    As with the libertarian distinction, you’d have to take this up with Mr. Day. I did not speak of this portion in the book in a very flattering way and I referred to it as “the usual game.” But Day’s book has no intention of actually framing any arguments on its own; it is merely an attempted retort or rejoinder. I don’t know if the argument is “irrational” in any sense of the word, nor do I know that Day was trying to particularly be rational. Again, you’d have to read the book to grasp the concept, but Day doesn’t really get into much self-politicking.

    Phooey on you and him.

    Yes, bravo. Very RATIONAL of you to “phooey” a book reviewer…

  • Matt

    I must suggest to all Christians and Atheist to read this book “The End of Reason” by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. This book forces the reader’s mind to do the critical thinking that is so lacking in Christianity today. It should also be considered required reading for the atheist who has never really looked at a logical argument for the existence of God, or the Christian who has never really critically analyzed his own faith. Check out more information on The End of Reason here

  • Bushka5

    Thanks for being a reviewer with no axe to grind for this book