ON THE EXISTENCE OF GODS – Book Review

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godsA few days ago I was fortunate enough to receive an advance review copy of On the Existence of Gods by Vox Day and Dominic Saltarelli. Full disclosure: I was given this e-book specifically for the purposes of reviewing it, and publisher and co-author Vox Day has also published one of my own previous works. On the flip side, I specifically requested a chance to review this one. Indeed, I jumped at the chance. As a philosophy major and a former atheist turned agnostic turned eventually Catholic, you might imagine that the topic has some interest for me. Saltarelli was an unknown to me, but I’ve followed Day’s blog for quite some time and I figured this work would at least be interesting.

I was not wrong.

The book is actually a reprinting of a debate between Day and Saltarelli that I believe was originally published on Day’s blog, although I can’t immediately track down the original posts. Somehow I missed it in its original run.

To begin with, Saltarelli is to be commended on several fronts. First, for agreeing to debate Vox Day. Regardless of your opinion on the controversial man, he’s a formidable debater. Second, having accepted the challenge, Saltarelli gave it an honest go. More than most of today’s atheists are willing or able to, he kept it to an honest intellectual argument. He refrained from “that’s just silly” dismissals, ad hominem attacks, attacking straw men, and other dishonest debate tactics. Mr. Day, for his part, held to the same high standard. The result makes the debate a strong one, and well worth the read.

But Saltarelli’s biggest achievement is one he must share with his co-author. I’ve read quite a bit out there on this topic, and I’ve participated in many informal versions of this debate – on both sides of it. This is the first thing that I’ve read in a very long time that actually had new, novel, and interesting arguments – and both authors achieved this, on both sides of the debate.

My singular complaint about the book is that the format of it virtually guarantees that the arguments on both sides will be underdeveloped. This does indeed turn out to be the case – in particular, Vox Day’s argument from the existence of evil is here represented almost criminally poorly, and I’d love to see it fleshed out in greater detail. I believe I can fill in many of the details, but I’d very much like to see his own logic here. In essence, he’s sold me on the argument but I feel that he needs to show his work.

Still, I find myself giving this book five stars purely for the astonishing achievement of presenting novel arguments. After two thousand years of debating the topic, that’s a remarkable achievement.

This book is unlikely to change any minds. But if you’re interested in the topic on an intellectual level, it’s worth the read.

Russell Newquist

My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.

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