Atheists Unplugged

The publisher of The Atheist’s Bible: An illustrious collection of irreverent thoughts should have taken Mark Twain’s advice: When you catch an adjective, kill it. The word illustrious adds nothing to the subtitle. See Ben Yagoda’s When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse. Actually, the entire subtitle is unnecessary. The Atheist’s Bible—nice and clean.

I was perusing The Atheist’s Bible at Starbucks and a passerby, with a look that he had discovered something sinister, interrupted me. Isn’t that—Atheist’s Bible—an oxymoron? he asked. I nodded yes, remembering the quote, “The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.”

The Atheist’s Bible is a book of quotes structured into chapters beginning with Genesis and a long list of Books of so-and-so. So-and-so includes Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, and others. Like the Bible’s use of first names of the apostles, Mark, John, Luke, etc., The Atheist’s Bible’s chapters also uses first names, followed by the surnames such as Twain or Russell, in parenthesis. This is dumb. The collection continues to copy the structure of the Bible with chapters titled Apocalyptus (Revelation) and Exodus (Exodus).

A vegetarian friend observed that vegetarian food is often marketed to resemble and taste like meat. He refuses to go along with it, saying the purpose of being a vegetarian is to get away from meat, not impersonate it.

The Atheist’s Bible, in trying to imitate the Bible, disappoints. The editor was so lazy she didn’t even bother to write an introduction—it consists of two quotes. Too bad the publisher didn’t put a dash of good reasoning into the collection, and particularly the title. Atheists Unplugged.

The editor, Joan Konner, also published You Don’t Have to Be Buddhist to Know Nothing: An Illustrious Collection of Thoughts on Naught.


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