Synergy Magazine Review
Away with All Gods is a powerful and erudite critique of religion and superstition and a rousing call to place our trust in reason and the scientific method. While it is clear that Avakian comes from a Marxist background we should not hold that against him. It is too easy to reject a book because of a authors political leanings, one way or another, rather than actually engaging with its content and allowing its arguments to rise or fall on their own merit. Avakian intelligently argues his case with reason and passion and while at times using some of the vocabulary of his background, at no time did I feel did he sacrifice his reason for ideology.
In my mind as I followed his presentation I found his work extremely insightful and perceptive. I especially liked the way Avakian did not just offer a critique of religion but offered a positive view of rationalism and the scientific method, making it clear that not only is religion irrational and superstitious but is dangerous in that it creates political suppression and stymies progress. Unusual for an atheist work and in marked difference to works of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins Avakian went further to explore the way in which religion is used to sustain the status quo and as a reactionary force by political power mongers. I especially found the exploration of religion and imperialism persuasive.
Avakian begins the book with a stinging critique of the Bible, Christianity, then moves onto Judaism and Islam. This critique takes up about half the book and is extremely comprehensive, it is quite clear here that Avakian has studied these religions extensively and is able to offer an informed analysis of their beliefs and practises. Not much is left standing after he is finished.
The next section offers a formidable exploration of the relationship between religion and all forms of political suppression from slavery to patriarchy, the denial of equal rights to gays to racism. His exploration of patriarchal values in the Bible is especially informative as is the connection he makes between the suppression of human rights by religion. This is especially significant since so many people like to claim that the “Abrahamic” religion gave the West human rights and dignity for the individual when in reality it is quite clear these rights were only for a limited minority i.e. the white male heterosexual religious adherent.
The final section of the book is quite outstanding as it takes a different tack. Avakian has cut a swath through superstition and religion, but that is not enough, he wants to show what can be used to replace it. Atheism is not nihilism and Avakian offers us an excellent exposition on the value of reason, the scientific method and the ability to have a sense of awe about life itself without the need for spirituality.
Avakian stands against the irrationalism and shows us how dangerous it really is, from terrorists and extremists to the subtle effect religion has on human rights and progress. He stands against not only religion and superstition but for reason and science and shows us what an alternative way of living can really be like. More importantly he shows us the revolutionary potential of finally doing away with all gods and what such a new world could look like.
http://www.synergy-magazine.com/ Thinking Time! section
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Review: San Francisco Atheists Newsletter, September 2008
By David Fitzgerald,
Steering Committee, San Francisco Atheists
Conflating atheism with Communism is a tiresome old chestnut, and many atheists in the Bay Area regard the local communist activists with more than a little reservation. But if an atheist reader doesn’t mind examining a discussion from a Marxist viewpoint, Insight Press has interesting titles to offer. For instance, Ardea Skybreak’s The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism is an excellent and accessible guide to how Evolution answers the questions Creationsim can’t, and is highly recommended, even for those who won’t appreciate the occasional brief dips into Marxist commentary.
Similarly, Bob Avakian’s Away With All Gods!, for all its forid communist zeal and frequently revolutionary vocabulary, has much that non-Marxist leaning atheist readers will be able to appreciate. AWAG! is a wide-ranging and unapologetic 4-part critique of the harm caused by religion, in particular highlighting the use, and misuse, of religions by political powers to maintain the status quo.
The first half of the book is a rousing, no-holds-barred critique of Christianity and the Bible, then all three of the Abrahamic faiths. To fans of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, this may already be familiar territory. Next comes a harsh examination on the role of Chrisitianity in the darker corners of American history: slavery, lynching, white supremacists, native genocide, the patriarchy, and Christian-flavored fascism like the uber-fundie Christian Dominionists who won’t be happy with anything less than a government based on the strictest interpretation of Old Testament crime and punishment.
Though all this, too is well-traveled to many atheist readers, there are still some real gems here, such as when Avakian illustrates how deep patriarchal attitudes permeate the Bible simply by pointing out how strange it would sound if John 3:16 said “For God so loved the world, that he gave up his only begotten daughter.” I also smiled at his retort to the lame old Christian slogan “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” by reminding us that “God didn’t create Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve”
His final section contrasts religion to reason and the scientific method, and religion as an obstacle to political and economic liberation. Most of my favorite points of the book came from this section. He notes that we need awe and wonder — but not superstitious awe. He also challenges those who say religions and myths are valuable because they offer “new insight into the deeper meaning of life, ” arguing that who is to say what “the deeper meaning of life” is, especially if religious claims are divorced from reality in the first place?
Avakian asks us to call religion what it is — Irrational — not just as an insult, but simply to honestly identify the essential character of religious thinking. In one of his final sections, he breaks down the difference between art and religion, and gives an objective opinion of why one is harmful while the other isn’t: Both represent the world in ways that differ from reality. But the qualitative difference between art and religion is that religion asks us to believe that what it presents actually is true—not only the truth but the defining and essential truth about reality. He sums up nicely: “If religion were to present itself in the same way and with the same expectations and requirements that art typically does…it would no longer be harmful…but it would also no longer be religion. Humanity will never be able to do without the imagination and without art; it must and will do without — and do much better without — religion.”
Satirical Review from Best* Church of God
Homemaking with Kathy! presents: Kathy’s Book Corner
Hi. I’m Kathy. And this is Kathy’s Book Corner.
Unlike most book clubs where ladies only read books that they like, Kathy’s Book Corner looks at ugly books that are dangerous to Christianity and should be banned. I read them, and then I burn them.
A few weeks ago, a man came to the Best Church of God to spread his Communist Anarchistic Atheist propaganda in the form of the book. This book, titled “Away With all Gods,” was written by one Mr. Bob Avakian.
For those of you who are smart and don’t pay attention to such loony toons living in Crazy Town, Bob Avakian is in charge of the Revolutionary Communist Party. In other words, Bob Avakian is not American. (And he is going to Hell)
I found “Away With All Gods” to be scary and wrong. This book is the transcription of two speeches which leads me to believe that Bob is lazy and doesn’t know how to write. He just scribbles down the heathenous speeches he gives to pot-smoking college students. And his grammar is atrocious! He doesn’t capitalize the word “God”. Not once. It’s always supposed to be capitalized, but only when it’s referring to our God. pagan gods and muhammad are all lower case.
Evil Bob Avakian believes that all religions are bad for you and that they pollute our minds with superstition to turn us into mindless drones. Mindless drones? Mindless drones. Mindless drones…
Where was I? Oh yes. bob avakian’s stinky book of paganism:
Because bob is a stupid anti-Christ, he asks a lot of questions. As we all know, in Proverbs the bible says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, in your own intelligence rely not.” So what’s the use of questions? Oh. I just asked a question. Ooops! See how easily the devil can spread his evilishness? There it is again! Shoot. Let’s all take a moment to say 3 “Hail Mary’s.”
Now that we’re protected by Christ Power, we can confront one of avakian’s sinfully contageous questions. Page 24-
“Why not tell people the truth, and help them understand reality as it actually is, including the real causes of sickness and affliction?”
Well, bob, that’s because the Bible is the truth. It’s an ancient book of true things that are always right and accurately define our reality. Everyone knows that the real cause of sickness and affliction is Satan. And that the only cure for feeling crummy is God. See Psalm 41:3: “The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” Not a doctor, the Lord!
A lot of things angered me in this demon manifesto. For instance, Mr. Avakian says on page 27 that Jesus’ words and actions should be “evaluated just like those of any other human being which is what Jesus was and all that he was”. That is so not true. Jesus is the Son of God. So He is the Christ- He is God AND Man. At the same time and with a ghost named the Holy Spirit. It’s the Trinity. And all of Them Are Equal. And the Same Person. But not A person. A God. But a Ghost, Too. And The Christ. Look it up in the Bible, ladies.
You may be thinking, “Wow, Kathy! This book is bad news bears!” But I haven’t gotten to the very worst thing yet. It’s on page 666. I mean, page 225:
“There is no God- therefore there is no sin.”
If there is no sin, then there can’t be a death penalty. And then what about all those evil criminals? Speaking of criminals, Bob Avakian is also a baby killer. That’s right. He is pro-choice. Bob says this on page 182:
“What lies at the heart of the issue of abortion, and of the Christian Fascist’s unrelenting attempt to make it illegal, is not the killing of babies (which is scientifically wrong in the first place) but it is the chaining of women in oppressive relations in which their essential role is reduced to that of being the property of men and the breeders of their children, according to “god’s plan” and the dictates of theocratic interpreters of “god’s will”.
Except for the part about him hating babies, I didn’t understand a word of that. Did you, ladies? Silly Bob Avakian. If you want to convert people to your satanic cult, you need to use smaller words. God wrote the bible so everyone could understand it. That’s why it’s so easy and fun to read. Not to mention concise. Looks like Mr. Avakian has a lot to learn from Christianity!
Well, that was Kathy’s Book Corner- telling you to rush to the nearest bookstore and buy “Away with All Gods” by Bob Avakian. But before you open it, burn it. Burn it hard.