I was in a bookstore in Melbourne recently and as is my habit, the first section i visit is the ‘Religion’ section.
To my surprise, the 1st and 2nd row of books in the rack was filled with books that denounce religion, books by atheists, satanists, even well known scientists. I chuckled to myself wondering what the bookstore curators were thinking of when they were arranging these books. They have nothing to do with religion! Or are they unconsciously acknowledging that atheism and exaltation of science is a religion in their own right?
But the most interesting book that I chanced upon was a beautiful white book titled unashamedly, “The Good Book”. Something in me went, “This can’t be good…”.
Sure enough, when I opened the book near the middle, i saw the page heading say “proverbs”. Flipping to maybe the 3/4 of the book, i saw “Acts”. At first I figured that this must be some ultra paraphrased bible, but I didn’t have to read too many lines before I realized that this book is actually a ‘bible’ for the atheist, or humanist.
“So”, i thought to myself, “this must be the latest attempt in providing an alternative guide book for the humanist who gives no care for divine things or after life”.
The say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and this book does try to imitate the bible, though it falls far short of the Bible’s standard when it comes to consistency, richness of language and has next to no effect on the heart when reading it, unlike the Bible, which when I read, causes a real ‘stir’, a ‘burning’ in my heart.
The Good Book aims to be the sourcebook for self worship, self centered and godless living. Of course, it does not use those words, but that’s exactly what it encourages. It encourages people to look highly of themselves, to be convinced that they are the lord’s of their own lives. There is no mention of God in the book (unsurprisingly). It does not take a critical view of God, it does not encourage religious people to abandon religion, it even teaches people to just ‘be good – it caters to its intended audience – those who want to live for themselves. Which is exactly what humanism is – there is no greater purpose for your life other than to live for your self and when you die, that’s it. The human life does not have much more purpose that a dog. A very sad and pathetic worldview.
The Good Book may claim to be ‘good’, and it may actually have some good advice. But its nowhere close to the Best Book – the Bible – which was inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. The book has writings that span 5000 years, written by multiple authors, but contains a single, consistent theme – the Lord Jesus and the way of salvation. The Bible is ‘alive’ and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart – and when you read this book, God really ‘speaks to you’ you actually feel like someone is conversing with you – God. This is something no other book can imitate.
I spent about an hour reading this book, and trust me, its hardly inspiring – even from a ‘humanist’ point of view. The advice given, can mostly be found from other books found in the ‘Self Help’ section of the book store. The stories, while interesting, are not great. I’d probably be more engaged reading a Tom Clancy or Isaac Asimov book.
So, well done Mr. Grayling on joining the troves of books that want to be the ‘anti-thesis’ of the Bible. Nice try, you’ll probably make some good bucks from it. But as someone who has read the Bible, I have to agree with God – “The fool says in heart, ‘there is no God'”. I do hope that you will realize the inadequacy of your book to bring guidance and purpose to lives of men, and that you will realize that only when you turn to God, who created you, will you find that you don’t need ‘good’ books when you’ve got the ‘best’ book to guide your life.