The Young Atheist's Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God
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The story of a man who lost his faith, but found much, much more. Growing up in a strict Muslim community in south-east London, Alom Shaha learnt that religion was not to be questioned. Reciting the Qur'an without understanding what it meant was simply a part of life; so, too, was obeying the imam and enduring beatings when he failed to attend the local mosque. But Alom was more drawn to science and its power to illuminate. As a teen, he lived between two worlds: the home controlled by his authoritarian father, and a school alive with books and ideas. In a charming blend of memoir, philosophy and science, Alom explores the questions about faith and the afterlife that we all ponder. This is a book for anyone who wonders what they should believe and how they should live. It's for those who may need the facts and the ideas, as well as the courage, to break free from inherited beliefs. In this powerful narrative, Alom shows that it is possible to live a compassionate, fulfilling and meaningful life without God. Foreword by Jim Al-Khalili
walk, but no one else is involved in these meetings. These dreams feel so real, I start crying when I wake up and realise that they are not. If I were a believer, I might be able to console myself with the notion that my mother is somehow speaking to me from beyond the grave. But I cannot ignore all the evidence to the contrary, and am forced to accept that these dreams are a result of wishful thinking, of my brain doing incredible things to create a virtual reality of infinite verisimilitude.
clash of civilisations’.3 However, it is clear that since 9/11 the western media have conspired to create a view of Muslims that is overwhelmingly negative. As Christopher Allen writes in the report ‘Islamophobia in the Media since September 11th’: What they have wholeheartedly reinforced is what I would suggest is the most dangerous aspect of Islamophobia; that Islam is entirely unidimensional and monolithic without any internal differentiation or opinion. Through indiscriminately saddling
others continued to try to pin some kind of blame on Muslims by claiming that, even if it wasn’t Al Qaeda this time, other extremists and terrorist groups were being influenced by Al Qaeda’s actions and were still mimicking ‘Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks’.8 I had my own encounter with Islamophobia on a train journey in 2005, a short time after the 7 July terrorist attacks in London. A passenger, a white man, who was sitting across the aisle from me caught my eye. He leaned forward
single ‘truth’ about what happened and why, but it will always be thought of as an act of terrorism that was perpetrated by people motivated by religious reasons. It was a stark reminder to many of us in the secular world that religion is not just a personal thing, that it can have implications extending far beyond the private choices of an individual. It was an event that made everybody pay a bit more attention to the role of religion in the world. It was no coincidence that five years later
that I felt about my time there. After three years of teaching, with my self-confidence restored, I left to try my hand at other things and wandered through a variety of jobs, from working in politics to being a television producer. But after seven or so years away from the classroom, I realised that teaching had been, by far, the most rewarding and satisfying job I had ever had. People (especially other teachers) sometimes ask me why I left the ‘glamorous’ world of television to go back to