A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO THE MEANING OF LIFE AND DEATH – by John Smith

?????????????????????????????????????????????????I found this book disappointing in that it is not a guide to anything, except possibly the simplistic thought process of the author.

It is basically a series of essays,  arranged in a kind of order, purporting to run thorough the various philosophies with regard to life, the universe and everything, although Adams did it so much better.

The author poses a number of questions in three major areas, and then attempts to address them.  And it turns out that the answers are predictably:  a deity.  So his answer to ‘what’s it all about, Alfie?’ is  basically an argument from design.  This book is a creationist tract, minus the young earth belief.

Although the author claims to have read widely in a variety of disciplines in his search for truth and answers, it would seem that after scrabbling around in what appears to be a half-hearted manner in the realms of physics, astrophysics, religion and the sciences that the results he was looking for  weren’t there, and thus, because he does not care for the results he does find, he dismisses the science and reverts back to saying that our inevitable conclusion is that this whole universe thing all came about because of a deity with a plan.  Maybe it did — the definitive answer to that is not in yet —  but this mashup of schoolboy all night conversations powered by too much beer and spliff did not convince me.

The Deity Did It is not a guide, it is a conclusion, with not much of anything to back it up other than earnestness and a good heart.

 

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One comment on “A LAYMAN’S GUIDE TO THE MEANING OF LIFE AND DEATH – by John Smith

  1. Hi Marti,
    Thank you for sending me the link to your review.
    Contrary to not liking it, I am delighted. It was always my intention to ruffle a few well preened feathers, and I appear to be succeeding already. Please credit me with at least enough intelligence to have anticipated just such a reaction. What a relief. I honestly thought you were going to upset me.
    What comes across immediately is a lack of response, a failure to engage with anything I have said with the object of proving me wrong or mistaken. If you had then there was a chance that you may have wrong-footed me enough to make me think again. But such a lack of engagement was conspicuous by its absence, although not altogether surprising. What fun! The fun, as I already know, lies in the fact that you have no better answers but are unwilling to admit it.
    It reminds me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, with me in the role of the little boy; for all the huffing and puffing and saying they had produced something so good that ordinary people could not see it, in fact the emperor’s tailors had produced nothing. And it is this nothing that you are referring to in an oblique way as holding out something better than what I have offered.
    And that is exactly what I have set out to prove, as I say in my introduction. Whoever I read–and pardon me, but I have read quite a lot–left me none the wiser in the end. Only more dissatisfied. For the rarefied air of their lofty dwelling places seemed to have left their brains starved of the oxygen of commonsense. So I beg to submit that perhaps a simple, schoolboy approach is the most truthful. The most honest. The most meaningful. The most satisfying. This is what you have blithely chosen to ignore. And you still, blindly, and not without arrogance, believe that science in the hands of normal mortal human beings will one day find all the answers–and if not then there are no answers. And you are content to leave it at that. Well, that is no good at all.
    All along I had prepared myself for something like this, a failure to provide any counter argument. This failure producing a frustration which would result in straightforward denigration of all I have said as being too basic, too unsophisticated, and just leaving it at that in an unwholesome cloud of patronising condescension. I’m sorry, but this smacks of intellectual sterility at best, and at worst has a whiff of cowardice about it.
    Of course I never set out to write anything like the Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy or any other of Douglas Adams’s works. Frankly the comparison baffles me. There is not even a remote connection. What a strange thought! As I keep saying, all that didn’t work for me. Been there. Done that. And the whole reason for writing this book was to provide for many people like me, who can see straight through the whole lot of sadly confusing material on the subject churned out in a bid to appear more clever than anyone else. The Emperor’s New Clothes indeed!
    Surely my subtitle says it all; “A commonsense, no-nonsense approach.” It is a “layman’s guide” in every way and never had pretensions of being anything else. And if in this it succeeds, as well as making certain people who swelter in the heat of wearing too many suffocating coats of intricate and dead end arguments grind their teeth in chagrin at being unable to respond with an alternative authority, then I am well satisfied. Again, as I said in my introduction, I did not set out to produce a bestseller that would make me millions. Too many people are busy doing that already, trying to impress the public with their much hyped work of learning, and all the while hoping, fingers crossed, that the public are entirely comprised of the same people who did not choose to see that the emperor was, in fact, naked. So here we have that classic tale retold, and it’s great to see it happening in real life.
    Again and again people who think they know better get so carried away by all that they think they know that they can no longer see the wood for the trees, as the saying goes. So apt on this occasion, isn’t it. Well, whatever. The bottom line is that you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time–but not all of the people all of the time. Sooner or later there is a groundswell of dissatisfaction and rejection of the kind of writing that you seem to favour, that is proven to certainly leave no one happier off in mind than before. And I suspect, deep down it is this fact that frustrates you.
    And oh, before I forget, I gave up smoking and drinking in 1997. A lifestyle choice, no more. Since then I only take tea or coffee. Spliffs and beer are definitely out, and I cannot understand where this rather below the belt blow comes from other than, as I have already pointed out, some deep-seated sense of frustration with the lack of clarity of your own views in their twisted convolutions.
    And as for championing a deity, why even staunch atheist Richard Dawkins will, when cornered, happily admit to the existence of a deity, and that all he is really saying is that for him this deity has no relevance as it clearly has no control over anything. And that is fair enough. And this is why I respect him. So I am in good company here.
    Thank you also for your other comments in your recent email. And for taking the time to read my e-book. I remember you not believing that I could deliver the goods if I was too young. I guess that said it all. Fixed viewpoints and entrenched attitudes cannot produce meaningful discussions and they are something I will go on trying to avoid, no matter how old I get. An open mind is best. Especially when, reading between the lines I get the feeling that whatever it is you believe in has not made you an ecstatically happy person by any means. But no hard feelings and I hope we can remain friends.
    Einstein never lost his sense of playful, childish wonder, for in truth this was the source of his creative genius. Too many of us forget this and begin riding on the crest of our own, over inflated egos. Our own self importance. Little surprise then, that too many of us only ever achieve commercial mediocrity when it comes to writing.
    Best wishes,
    John.

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