The German God Delusion Book Translated in English February 23, 2008

The German God Delusion Book Translated in English

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a German children’s book which was getting trashed by the country’s religious groups.

Now, you can read the book for yourself. An English translation is being offered for free.

Check the book out and see what you think.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Julie

    Mixed reactions. On the one hand, this was how I felt as a kid, since I was brought up agnostic / atheist. People told me I was missing something, and I went and did some searching and found out I didn’t feel I was missing anything.

    On the other hand, it’s sort of a straw man argument to make the religious characters so stupid and evil. So it’s a one sided characterization of religion and understandably offensive to many folks.

    Still, I really, really want a copy!

  • I wasn’t able to look at the illustrations, but did see the text – and I agree with Julie.

    I don’t really care for proselytization in any form. This seems to take some of the most extreme forms of theistic religions to make them all look negative.

    I’d hate for my children to be raised with the notion that all who believe in God are that exclusive.

  • Matt

    I’m inclined to agree with many of the commentators who disapprove of this book. While I’m not a fan of banning books in general, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable letting my children read the book. It seems a bit militant and over the top to me. Just because fundamentalist Christians pull stunts like this doesn’t mean we’re justified.

  • The book doesn’t look as bad as that article made it out to be. The rabbi doesn’t remind me of anti-semitic caricatures at all–he just looks like a guy in orthodox Jew clothes. I have no idea how they read a “predilection for child abuse” into the bishop. However, they do portray all the religious figures as having short tempers and make fun of their traditional costumes. And I really wonder what age group they had in mind.

    Of course, I still disapprove of the book. It’s not my idea of how religion should be approached, much less how it should be approached by kids.

  • Daniel

    I thought it was a great story. I can’t see the pictures so I can’t comment on that, but the religious characters didn’t seem stupid to me, they seemed silly. They certainly weren’t portrayed as evil. Hopefully there will be a version printed in English.

    How could he drown all the baby hedgehogs? 🙁

  • I think the pictures do a lot to leaven the story… I’m not sure how kids in the U.S. will react to the last spread showing a multitude of naked people, though! We won’t be seeing this book in public school libraries anytime soon, that’s for sure!

    I liked the story, and I wouldn’t mind if my kid had this book as one of his bedtime reads.

  • Forget the children’s book — we need an atheist – freethinker version of “Chick tract” comic books that we give away to our friends, leave behind on the table in coffee shops, give to trick-or-treaters at Halloween, etc:

    I live the “Bible Belt” (NW Louisiana) and my kids would get these from neighbors occasionally when trick-or-treating.

  • Becky

    I rather enjoyed the story. Thank you for linking the English to us. =) I agree with the end, in particular when they cross out “not” on the poster.

  • Daniel, if you couldn’t find the pictures, they’re here.

  • Daniel

    Thanks for the pics link. They do look different than I imagined. Maybe they are slightly over the top and scary, but I wonder how much of that view is due to cultural differences. I don’t have any experience with German children’s book illustration so I can’t tell if it’s out of line. Certainly in today’s US culture those pics probably wouldn’t fly but I think that’s due to the immense amount censoring that is done in the name of ‘protecting’ children.

    The last pic with the nude people is sort of odd but I guess it’s illustrating the “naked apes” idea, and actually that drawing doesn’t look much different than some pics I’ve seen in some older children’s books from the 60’s – early 70’s.

  • I would certainly allow my kids to read it, but I would make sure I talked to them about it afterwards. Like any children’s book, it simplifies people’s personalities to make a point– perhaps no worse than, say, Roald Dahl’s characterizations of bullies or mean teachers– but enough that I would feel I should explain to my kids that believing in religion doesn’t automatically make you hateful, and that most Christians, Muslims, and Jews they’ll ever meet are nice people.

    On the other hand, I think it is very valuable to put that idea in a kid’s mind that they’re not missing anything when they don’t have religion. I think a lot of aspects of our religious culture strive to plant that seed of doubt in a rational person’s mind. I think it’s sort of thing we’ve been seeing from the advertising industry for a long time– create some worry, some anxiety, and you can get people to buy acne medication, restless leg syndrome pills, or Bibles. The best way to immunize children against that low self-esteem is to point out the way those industries/religions work, and I think this book helps kids realize that religion often works by trying to make you doubt the completeness of your life.

  • As I wrote in a comment at Secular Outpost:

    You can get a better look at the pictures of the book here:

    The claim that the rabbi is drawn with hands like claws appears wrong, and the claim about him having predator’s teeth is dicey, but the “corkscrew curls” and “fanatical lights in his eyes” are there. I also can’t see from the pictures any implication that the bishop has pedophilic tendencies. What I do notice is that all the clergy end up portrayed as enraged, which, IMHO, is cheating. No atheist arguments worth their salt should rely on religion being presented with a cruel face.

    Some of what I wrote echoes what miller said.

  • J Sveda

    It’s definitely an interesting reading. While the book has it’s flaws – pimarily exaggeration, I think it points out very well that the insistence on some peculiar rules/practises/texts of most religions can appear ridiculous and nonsensical.

  • Stephen

    Thanks for the pics link. They do look different than I imagined. Maybe they are slightly over the top and scary, but I wonder how much of that view is due to cultural differences. I don’t have any experience with German children’s book illustration so I can’t tell if it’s out of line.

    Compared to the “mad professor” portrayal of scientists in countless cartoons, these images seem very mild indeed to me.

    I suppose it’s a telling indication of the degree to which an exaggerated respect for religion is embedded in our culture, that even on an atheist forum people feel somewhat uncomfortable about mild caricatures of religious figures.

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