I received this book as a giveaway from Library Thing. I had heard about it previously from atheist podcasts I listen to and it sounded very interesting. So, I was very pleased when I got the notice that I had won a copy of it for review.
Alas, the joy didn’t last long. I had such hopes for this book. I had believe it was being written to give a kinder face to non-believers, a book that people could pick up and find a kind face put on a group that has been marginalized and demonized. A group that I can count myself among.
Its not that the book isn’t well researched and well written. It is. But, it is written like a research paper. Its clinical and sanitary and the perfect cure for insomnia. The sections on individual people that were interviewed for the project read like the short biography on the back of a novel or a seminar pamphlet introducing the speakers. Coupled with that, it is weighed down heavily with statistics and data and wells of clinical observations, complete with charts and tables.
It is not that the information between the covers of this book is not valuable. I am sure that it is. However, as something to be offered up to the public to give a human face, a common face to this community of people, it falls flat on its face. There are no personal interviews, no amusing anecdotes, no humor, no personality that shines from these pages. The truth is that the lack of these human elements only reinforce the stereotype that non-believers are lacking in empathy, good will . . . humanity.
It may be that they should have turned their data over to a writer and not a scientist. Someone who could take it out of the lab and into the world where life is lived out loud and not in a test tube or on a spreadsheet.