Book Review: The Atheist Camel Chronicles: Debate Themes & Arguments for the Non-Believer (and those who think they might be) by Dromedary Hump
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (June 18, 2009)
(All international orders via amazon.com Atheist Camel Chron )
I think there is some great writing on the internet these days. Often in the places you least expect it. Sure there is a lot of crap – but there’s something about the lack of editing and ease of expression in blogs and discussion forums. Writers often have strong feelings on their subjects and they can communicate this in forceful and colourful language. When people feel strongly about something they often write well.
Another fact may be the crap itself. When people make stupid assertions, or descend into fanciful positions or diversions, sometimes the only sensible way to respond is with sarcasm or ridicule. It’s often then the best writing shows.
This is especially true for some of the non-theist blogs and forums – and discussion in some of the religious chat-rooms. Wherever theists and non-theists engage at any length. Both theists and non-theists can come across as emotional or resort too easily to ridicule. But let’s face it – from the non-theist perspective, so often this is the only sane way (apart from just walking way) one can respond to blanket declarations of faith, being told what one “really believes” or how one is immoral, or other ridiculous assertions.
Dromedary Hump (this must be a non-de plume, a user-name) is one of these eloquent atheists. He calls a spade a spade – and cleverly implies it might actually be a bloody big shovel. He’s had a fair bit of experience debating with theists in chat rooms and on blogs. He’s met all the arguments thrown at atheists by the dogmatically faithful. And, seemingly, he’s responded to all of them.
This book is a collection of over 100 brief articles/posts/comments he has used. They stretch between New Years Day 2008 and April 2009. Hump presents them as models, suitable for others to make use of in their own debates. I don’t think things work that way. People don’t refer to a list of arguments or debating points when engaging in these discussions. But no doubt interested readers will profit from reading this book and one of Hump’s specific arguments or, more likely, choice phrases will come to mind in their own discussions.
I appreciated the directness of his arguments – and their style of presentation. His language is both economical and colourful. And a like some of his colourful terms – such as “fundies”, the “theistically impaired” and “Candy Land” (heaven). And what about his description of residents of his home state, New Hampshire, who don’t attribute weather changes to supernatural causes. “We are an educated people and don’t tolerate fools lightly. We include the overtly religious under the latter classification.”
Some of the brief articles I enjoyed were:
Christian Apologetics: Knowledge and Intellect Not Required. Here he says of Ray Comfort:” A complete lack of understanding of scientific principles and evolutionary theory don’t stand in the way of his trying to discredit them in favour of creationism.”
Atheist Axioms: Although “the only qualification to be an atheist is to hold no belief in a god or gods” Hump suggests some axioms for consideration. Such as “If you want your life to have some sort of “meaning” beyond procreation and continuation of the species, it’s up to you, the individual, to develop that meaning.”
Why Christians Lie: They have a “propensity toward intentional distortion” . Because they “have nothing left except distortion with which to defend their position and belief. They lie out of desperation to protect their faith. It’s virtually a reflex.”
Not all ridicule
At the moment Hump’s ridicule appeals to me. A Jehovah’s Witness godbotherer and her apprentice have just interrupted me midstream. They tell me the earth is 6000 years old and scientists can’t agree on the length of the day. Jehovah is a god of love and evolution can’t be true because we are so sinful. And they recommended to me “The Privileged Planet” as an excellent video to correct my ignorance! Ridicule and rudeness was the best response.
But Hump can also be friendly towards believers. As for example in Piety & Politics a Must Read: here he recommends a book by Reverend Barry W, Lynn, Executive Director of the Americans United for separation of Church and State. Or The Charming Atheist: Pointing out that being friendly to theists, while not hiding one’s atheism, can reap diplomatic benefits.
Each of the discussion arguments is to the point and brief – usually fewer than two pages. This makes the book ideal for browsers, or for those with more specific interests. There is no obligation to start at the beginning and read to the end.
Maybe it’s a bit early yet – but this would make an ideal Christmas/New Year present for those freethinkers among your friends.
See also: Dromedary Hump’s blog – Atheist Camel.