I first came across Michel Onfray back last December. Then, in September, I noted that Serpent's Tail will be publishing Atheist Manifesto, his first book to be translated into English, early next year (Traité d'Athéologie, Grasset).

And I've just noticed that, in the Toronto Star last Sunday, Brad Spurgeon ran a piece about "France's best-selling philosopher". I remain intrigued.

He is a self-described hedonist, atheist, libertarian, and left-wing anarchist ... in Atheist Manifesto he dismantles and condemns as dangerous and archaic not only Islam, but Christianity and Judaism as well ... And after more than 30 books, he is finally seeing his ideas spread far beyond his native Normandy. His 2005 book, Traité d'Athéologie, became a best-seller not only in France, where it has sold 230,000 copies, but also in Italy and Spain, and has sold well in other Latin countries, and even in Germany and Asia ... he says that believing in religion's "children's stories for comfort" deflects from the real problems of existence and thus exacerbates them, he does not despise the believers. As a rebel against all manner of authority, he aims his ire at those who impose and organize religion and its ethics, morals and customs.

Readers Comments

  1. Monsieur Onfray seems to be galloping along with 'the herd of independent minds', engaged in the fashionable pursuit of religion bashing. The definition of 'religion' is not fixed, always in contention, and it seems to me that 'scientific materialism' has all the defining qualities of a religion.If Onfray,'as a rebel against all manner of authority ... aims his ire at those who impose and organize religion and its ethics, morals and customs', then in all fairness and consistency he ought to realise that scientific materialism has assumed the status of an orthodoxy, engaged in an aggressive proselytising campaign of its own. Weber wrote that all dominant power needs a religion to legitimise itself: the legitimising religion of global capitalism is materialism - with consequences that are all too apparent. Atheism is, one might say, the running dog of global capitalism. Just as Soviet communism branded its dissidents as insane, so the Richard Dawkins clones of this world seek to stigmatise non-materialists as feeble minded. Who are the tyrants now?

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