A Review of Your Religion is False by Joel Grus July 12, 2009

A Review of Your Religion is False by Joel Grus

A few months ago, I posted a video of a talk by Joel Grus. That talk has now turned into a book:


It doesn’t matter what you believe, Grus thinks your religion is false.

To all those people who think the New Atheists focus too narrowly on Christianity, Grus counters that argument and blows it out of the water. He’s not making over-your-head philosophical arguments… he’s just pointing out the problems with each and every faith he can find.

What religions are deemed false? All the major ones, of course, and then some:

  • Zoroastrianism
  • Shinto
  • Kabbalah
  • Clapton-worship
  • Wicca
  • Pastafarianism

Wait, what? Why is that last one included in the list?

Grus explains:

Part of me suspects that Pastafarianism is not a serious religion but was designed primarily to mock some of the more prominent religions. On the other hand, this suspicion is rooted primarily in the ridiculousness of the notion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Using this sort of ridiculousness as a criterion I could just as easily mount the same suspicion against any of the other religions in this book. As I have first-hand experience that those other ridiculous religions are practiced in earnest, I am forced to assume that the same is true of Pastafarianism, and I am forced to point out that Pastafarianism is (like every other kind of food-worship) false.

So how do you write a book like this, with 91 short chapters, without pointing out the same things over and over?

The answer to that is why I like the book so much. Grus not only explains why each religion is false, he explains each religion’s basic beliefs. That’s actually a far better use of this book for me, as a sort of religious encyclopedia. It’s nothing you can’t find on Wikipedia, but it’s less objective and far more entertaining. I doubt Grus’ arguments against faith will change many minds, but it will educate you on the finer points of religions you don’t tend to hear much about.

I read the chapter on Jainism (the religion in which I grew up) especially carefully and it was surprisingly accurate (and with some depth!). I don’t see that very often.

It’s also not a direct assault on any one particular faith, which makes the book more palatable for anyone who is religious.

Except for Muslims. They might not want to read the hilarious chapter on Islam, which ends the following way:

Nonetheless, there is no excuse for terrorism; the veil liberates no one; pork is exceptionally tasty; rent-to-own is a huge rip-off; praying five times a day is a huge waste of time; and there is no god Allah. Islam is false.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Andrew C.

    I’m pleased to see someone is going after Clapton. I prefer Hendrix.

  • Blasphemer! Clapton is the One True God. Your Hendrix is nought but a false prophet. I shall pray for nonexistent soul.

  • Oh HELL no! Somebody dissing Pastafarianism! Blasphemy!! Arm the meatball launchers – this means HOLY WAR!

  • Muslims love the book!

    (Sample size: 1)

  • T Mackiewicz

    If it wasn’t for Hendrix, Clapton would not have a Wah peddle to stomp on. Nuff Said!

  • why do muslims believe in rent to own?

  • mikespeir

    As long as he doesn’t start in on ABBAism. That would be going too far.

  • Lexi

    I <3 this book, and I like the speech too! If you want a sample of the kind of humor, the talk is a good sample.

    This is a less shakey cam version of the video: http://vimeo.com/3575931

  • beckster

    why do muslims believe in rent to own?

    It is against their religion to borrow or lend money with interest, I think.

  • ungullible

    I wonder… if we could get religious folk to read this book, but read the chapter on their religion last, would it make any difference? Once they see (and supposedly agree with) the arguments against other religions, would some of them be able to see the criticisms of their religion at least a little better?

    Naahhhh, who am I kidding! 🙂

  • smokexoxo

    joel, i am so proud you have denounced every religion i ever pretended to belong to. <3 your new book!

  • Unbelievers are right in most of their thinking

    You might be one for whom religious beliefs are not just irrelevant, but baseless. You might be right: myths and a religious fantasy have influenced human minds with larger strength than reality, and the “God” of main line traditions simply does not exist. Most people don’t dare to confront their religious beliefs, opt for the status quo, or become marginalized.

    Bishop John Shelby Spong says that “Christianity Reformed From its Roots – A Life Centered in God” “rightly points out that those who seek to defend Christianity’s past are also killing Christianity’s future.” I accepted the challenge of finding the One who may be recognized even by Gnostics and atheists: the Existence! Eminent philosophers and thinkers might give you an idea if this book might be an insightful reading for you (links below). You may look also at excerpts at Amazon.com.

    Jairo Mejia, M. Psych., Santa Clara University
    Retired Episcopal Priest
    Carmel Valley, California


  • littlejohn

    Stevie Ray Vaughan is god.

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