Vitaly Malkin's New Book, Dangerous Illusions, is an informed polemic against the many dangers of religious ideology.

Vitaly Malkin's exceptionally argued educational book, Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us of Happiness, is an informed polemic against the many dangers of religious ideology. It establishes Malkin as the closest anti-religious intellectual heir to Christopher Hitchens that I know of, and I hope he gains the same large audience.

Malkin is a Russian businessman and investor. He has been a physicist, banker and senator. After losing his patience for what religious ideology is doing to the world, he took five years off to research and write this book, which is the first of three books planned. It's his "battle cry or call to arms" against the harmful monsters called chimeras that "pull us back into barbarism and savagery." (p.7). He says "they are back; they have invaded our lives and we cannot survive without a war against them." (p.7). The best analogies he can compare to religious chimeras are psychiatric disorders, malignant tumors and black holes. (p.52-54).

In ancient mythology a Chimera was a bizarre creature depicted as "a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that might end with a snake's head." The term Chimera describes "any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling." LINK. A Chimera is "anything that was not reasonable" (p. 17), which includes "all the ideologies, traditions and customs that all interfere with our nature, mind, freedom and earthy happiness." (p.7).

I am surprised how informed Malkin is, having studied these issues for just five years, but he is. In chapter one he deals with the biggest chimera of them all, faith. You will learn from it, especially what believers have said about faith. Hint: it's crazy! Chapter two is about the existence of evil. One quote is worth mentioning: "The Devil is necessary to God's survival. If he didn't exist, God would have to assume the responsibility for Evil." (p. 58) Another one on the purpose of a theodicy which seeks to justify or exonerate a perfectly good God from suffering: "The main purpose of theodicy was to combine the uncombinable--the idealized world of the divine with the real world of evil...Theodicy had another important task, namely to detract the believer's attention from evil and to direct it towards God, to divert the attention from daily life on earth to the one further down the line in heaven." (p. 63) Then by combining the main point from each of the first two chapters into a powerful argument, Malkin writes, "The Fathers of the Church...declared solemnly that faith is fundamentally irrational and requires no intellectually valid proofs," per chapter one, so per chapter two he rhetorically asks, "Why then do they seek to justify God? Why do they need theodicy?" (p. 65) Excellent! Christians cannot have it both ways. If faith is irrational there need not be, nor cannot be a reasonable theodicy either. If however, faith is reasonable, then whence is that theodicy? Many Christian apologists/philosophers are admitting there isn't one available, as I demonstrated in Part 3 of my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist.

Apart from the first two chapters the book lacks organization, as chapter three jumps into a discussion about death, chapter four returns to discuss suffering, leaving the last four chapters 5-8 to discuss religion and sexual issues (pp. 187-396). I think his chapters on sex could be a great book on its own, one of the best polemics against sexual issues in religious ideology I've seen in one place!

Let me end with some of Malkin's chapter and section titles, to give you a sense of what you can find inside this book:

Chapter 4:
God likes to see you suffer
On suffering, the best friend of Christian virtue

Chapter 5 title: The Great Battle Against Pleasure
The birth of Christian Asceticism
Hatred for Feasts, Fun and Laughter
How Buddha ate cow dung

Chapter 6 title: Sex is God's Greatest Enemy
The downfall of the Ancient Phallus
The prophets have never had sex
Islam: The best sex is in Paradise
Christian Marriage, or a Divine Threesome

Chapter 7 title: Thou shalt have no gods before me
Saint Anthony's Women
A Paedophile Celibacy
The Joys of Castration
Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's Sake

Chapter 8 title: The Crusade Against Onanism
Sperm Rivers
If your hand seduces you, cut it off
Medics' and Philosophers war against masturbation

It's a good book, well-reasoned and well-written with a flare that Hitchens would be glad to see. The bonus is a book produced well too, complete with lots of glossy photos, etchings, and paintings that add tremendously to the text.

Very highly recommended! I await the translation and publication of his two other works in hopes for a comprehensive case against religion.

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