Because this book does not have its own dedicated website, I figured it might be helpful to collate a central posting linking all of the online reviews of The Divinity Code, with my comments on them where needed.
As new reviews come in, I'll update links to those also (I've had to post this afresh because of an update glitch with Typepad).
Wishart takes up the gauntlet laid down by Richard Dawkins in "The God Delusion", and in fact, uses Dawkins' own logic and methodology to launch a counter-attack against unbelief. The prologue closes with a question from Wishart – "Do I succeed?"
He ends thus:
You'll find it challenging and thought-provoking, and Ian Wishart makes a compelling case against unbelief.
For everything in between, click on the link above.
NZ Conservative has the first thread going on the book, with this post:
I am just getting started reading Ian Wishart's new book now, but I have to say it appears to be selling very well. It took me ages to find any place that had a copy. First stop was Borders in Sylvia Park who had sold out. Next I tried both Whitcoulls and Paper Plus from my local Westfield Mall and it had sold out both places there as well. Eventually I found a Whitcoulls that had a copy, although it took some hunting around to find it (they also told me it had been selling very well).
Given that Borders in Sylvia Park has had somewhere in the region of 70 to 80 copies, that's not bad going.
THE REVIEW IN PROGRESS AT STATEHIGHWAYONE:
Over at StateHighwayOne, Ryan Sproull appears pleasantly surprised he wasn't misquoted (did he really think he would be?) and has begun a chapter by chapter takedown of The Divinity Code that makes for interesting reading. This is largely because a review carried out as a work in progress poses questions or challenges that the reviewer doesn't realise are answered later in the book. Ryan will discover this as he goes, however.
Nonetheless, some of his comments are worth highlighting:
The Divinity Code deals with actual concrete arguments, and that is refreshing as all hell. Gives a fellow some traction.
On Chapter Two, Ryan agrees that I've probably adequately debunked the Axial theory beloved of Lloyd Geering, Karen Armstrong, and Don Cupitt, that religion evolved from primitive belief in many gods to just one God:
I think he adequately messes with the theory that monotheism is only ever a development out of polytheism, rather than a potentially older idea...Ian does a good job here of presenting counter-examples to the evolving-religion hypothesis he finds in Armstrong.
Of Chapter 3, and his encounter of the cosmological design argument, Ryan runs through a smidgen of the evidence presented and acknowledges this:
"Ian declares at the end of the chapter that this is going to be a major theme of his book. There are so many things that "could have" been different, therefore we are so lucky to be here that it is unbelievable that our being here is not the result of sentient intention.
At first glance, it's a compelling argument. It makes a few assumptions, though, that aren't immediately obvious."
The "assumptions" that he proceeds to list are all dealt with in the chapters that follow. I will not be commenting in this thread on the merits or otherwise of some of Ryan's points, preferring to do it in the context of his entire review when completed and on his own blog, as a courtesy. All I am doing here is alerting you to its existence.
Ryan's review of Chapter 4 is here…and I highly recommend reading the comments thread. A side debate flared up here and in this case the comments thread is crucial reading.
RESPONSE TO THE WAIKATO TIMES REVIEW (on the Stuff website)
Dornauf's review was a disgrace. Not because of his opinion (he's perfectly entitled to dislike the book because of his own beliefs) but because he gets his facts wrong and then beats me over the head with his own mistakes.
I have penned the following letter to the editor in response:
I must admit I was bemused when you gave The Divinity Code to Peter Dornauf, a poetry reviewer and artist, to review. And then I realized what the paper had left off the reviewer's qualifications: "grumpy old atheist".
Even the Listener picked up on this in a review of Dornauf's own first book in 2004: "For a few pages in this story of a tortured farm boy growing up in rural and urban 1960s New Zealand, Dornauf desists from raving about Life, Love and God. He stops being angry: the tale takes a breath and achieves a measure of coherency."
Dornauf makes wild, sweeping generalisations about The Divinity Code without offering solid evidence to back up his criticisms. Example? "The writer plays fast and loose with the facts."
What 'facts' did I play fast and loose with? We aren't told.
Not content with failing to provide evidence, Dornauf resorts to making things up. Example? "Earthquakes and volcanoes are, for example, God having fun playing tenpin bowling with the planets!"
Good luck finding that in The Divinity Code because, of course, it is not there.
Negative reviews are one thing, but negative reviews out of context and with "facts" made up by the reviewer are not professional.
In a further covering explanation to the Waikato Times editor, I wrote:
I'm presuming you personally have not read the book, because if you had you would have seen Peter's review was little more than a cheap hatchet job with little factual basis.
For example, he rants about discredited arguments. Really? I took the absolute cutting edge arguments used by Dawkins and the secular web groups like Infidels, and then deconstructed them.
I think Peter draws an extremely long bow trying to blow off The Divinity Code by implying (defamatorily, in my view) I was using ancient "discredited" arguments like those of William Paley two centuries ago…when in fact I'm quoting leading cosmologists [like Paul Davies] and molecular chemists [Robert Shapiro] from papers published in 2007.
The general consensus at the top levels of science is that the search for a natural origin of DNA based life on earth has failed; or as Shapiro puts it: "Many chemists, confronted with these difficulties, have fled the RNA-first hypothesis as if it were a building on fire…Further, the spontaneous appearance of any such replicator without the assistance of a chemist faces implausibilities that dwarf those involved in the preparation of a mere nucleotide soup…The chances for the spontaneous assembly of a replicator [in such a soup] can be compared to those of a gorilla composing, in English, a coherent recipe for the preparation of chili con carne."
The Divinity Code is packed full of accounts such as that one. I strongly recommend that you ask Peter if he really believes his review is remotely defensible under the heading "honest opinion", and whether he has any evidence at all that discredits my book and my analysis.
His "earthquakes" jibe at me, for example, is thoroughly misleading, suggesting that I have used the argument that God directly causes quakes and eruptions as part of a game of skittles. Not only is this wrong, it is defamatory. I argue clearly in the book that earthquakes and volcanoes are natural forces releasing energy in a manner essential for life. Our planet is unique in the solar system in having the plate tectonics system – for reasons I cite in The Divinity Code we are extremely fortunate in having it.
The bowling analogy came not earthquakes, but from the scientific discovery that our moon was created when a Mars-sized planet slammed into Earth in another unique event, to which I joked that God playing ten-pin bowling was as good an explanation as any. This, however, is a far cry from the implied statement that my book argues God is behind every earthquake or volcanic eruption, which is a ridiculous assertion.
Don't get me wrong…I'm happy for him that he's an atheist, or whatever…but his review along the lines of "it's all a pack of discredited lies" is not fit to be called a review…
As more reviews come to light, I'll link to them. Comments on this particular post, because of its function and focus, are turned off. You can of course comment on anything you read here now or later over at the open discussion thread