Tikkun Magazine

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality

Tik Rec Rosenberg

Alex Rosenberg
W.W. Norton & Company, 2011

This book promises to show how to enjoy life without illusions. Rosenberg, the chair of the Philosophy Department at Duke University, tells us to give up the fantasy of learning lessons for the future from the past. History has no patterns that can help us predict the human future, he argues. The past is bereft of meaning. What is adaptive in one environment becomes maladaptive in another one. Rosenberg offers a lively defense of the scientism that Tikkun often challenges, yet he is not oblivious to the value of those religious communities that bind people together in attempts to ameliorate the human condition. He argues, however, that secular humanists can best improve our lives by letting go of residual desires for meaning and accepting a wholly scientific account of reality. In what is either a brilliant spoof or a perfect example of the logic of the kind of atheism Rosenberg espouses, he offers the following advice to those readers who still can’t sleep at night, even after accepting science’s answers to life’s biggest questions: “Take a Prozac or your favorite serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and keep taking them till they kick in!”

(To return to the Winter 2012 Table of Contents, click here.)