‘What’s God got to do with it?’ Review by Tony Akkermans

Burt Flannery’s book “What’s God got to do with it” is a highly valuable addition to the growing number of publications critical of religion. In its wide-ranging 370 pages the author combines a comprehensive history of the major religions with an in-depth look at the obvious fallacies inherent in all of them. All of it in a gripping, easily read narrative, applying unanswerable logic when examining the misguided religious beliefs  still so widely held. For example in a chapter on chance he highlights  the completely random nature of natural disasters where a supposed omnipotent God behaves in complete concordance with the fall of a dice, saving 30 trapped miners in Chile and shortly after condemning a similar number in New Zealand. Miracles and unmiracles. The author marvels at the ability of believers to thank the Lord for events in their favour and to ignore totally misfortune befalling others. In an amusing yet penetrating section on the afterlife he demonstrates the impossibility of an joyful, harmonious, everlasting existence in paradise.  In the chapter on evolution v. creationism he points out that the scientist has centuries of scientific discovery to provide him with a foundation for his work whereas the creationist can merely rely on the revered texts of a few primitive, impressionable people, ignorant of the world around them. In the contest between religion and science religion has always been proved spectacularly wrong and this process is bound to continue into the future. 

But the main purpose of the book, hinted at by its title, is the comprehensive rebuttal and dismantling of the traditional pro God arguments. Having dealt with the likes of Aquinas, Anselm and Descartes, he then turns to the less philosophical and much more obvious  reasons why a god figure could not possibly exist. The existence of a benevolent, omnipotent creator cannot be reconciled with recurring natural disasters, devastating pandemics, horrendous cruelty in the animal world, the ability of mass murderers to carry out their deeds unhindered. Although the author leaves no stone unturned  in making his case against religion, nowhere does he resort to abuse or overt militancy. He simply piles on the arguments until even the most dyed in the wool believer cannot escape a pause for thought. Because of its historical and philosophical content and the accessible use of language this book has great educational value and ought to be stocked in every school or college library.’

59 Replies to “‘What’s God got to do with it?’ Review by Tony Akkermans”

  1. Having researched and published in the area of religious education as a teacher and lecturer in higher education, I would be concerned at the inclusion of Burt Flannery’s book on school library shelves. The object of religious education in a secular society is to try to help pupils to understand and make sense of religious beliefs and practices. Religious education does not proselytise either in favour or against religious belief. I would however make the book available to theology A level students who should be able to make short work in showing the theologically problematic nature of its claims.

  2. I don’t know this but I would be very surprised if school libraries didn’t include a variety of books and publications strongly slanted towards religious belief. As for A level theology students making short work of Flanagan’s arguments let them start with the problem of evil and once they have admitted defeat they might move on to the infinite regression difficulty of the first cause proposition. Theologians are taking a hiding from science and soon they will be reduced to conducting knitting with fog discussions amongst themselves whilst the rest of us are leaving bronze age notions behind.

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