Feature

Author of the week: A.C. Grayling

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible is emblematic of Grayling's less cynical form of atheism.

A.C. Grayling is a kinder, gentler atheist, said Decca Aitkenhead in the London Guardian. Though staunch in his beliefs, the philosopher, 62, considers himself less cynical and combative than fellow British atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. “I’m the velvet version,” he says. Though he insists he’s not out to pick a fight, the title of Grayling’s new book alone—The Good Book: A Humanist Bible—might be enough to infuriate Christians. Mimicking the Bible’s form and language, Grayling has created a treasury of wisdom and inspiration, all in service of a humanist worldview. “It’s a distillation of the best that has been thought and said by people who have experienced life and really thought about it,” he says.

Though Grayling may prefer speaking in softer tones than some of his fellow atheists, he doesn’t hesitate to defend them, said Christopher Shea in The Wall Street Journal. “Well, firstly, I think the charges of militancy and fundamentalism come from our opponents, the theists,” he says. “My rejoinder is to say when the boot was on their foot they burned us at the stake. All we’re doing is speaking very frankly and bluntly, and they don’t like it.” Ever the rationalist, Grayling also sees a logical flaw in his opponents’ arguments. “Really,” he says. “How can you be a militant atheist? How can you be a militant non-stamp-collector? This is what it really comes down to. It’s like sleeping furiously. It’s just wrong.”

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