John Gray reviews Dominic Johnson’s God Is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human. Though I haven’t read this book, based upon this review the title and the subtitle “How the Fear of God Makes Us Human” seem to be the wrong way round. Indeed, the main title seems superfluous. But first, Nicholas Taleb puts his two cents in.
From an evolutionary perspective, irrational belief isn’t an incidental flaw in human beings. It has made us what we are.
The irony of the new atheism is that it is pre-Darwinian. Making sense from the chaos of human events, religions provide something that science cannot offer, but which most people still desperately want. Accordingly, the new atheists have turned science into a religion: a gospel of enlightenment that can deliver the world from darkness. Possessed by this ersatz creed, which has all of the flaws of conventional religion and none of the saving graces, our crusading unbelievers are comically oblivious of their own need for faith.