Saturday, September 08, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

While I was away on my summer vacation, I worked on a new book. I had planned to work on a new book when I left. However, it turns out that the book I planned to work on, and the book I came back with, are not the same book.

And this was not a casual effort. My goal was to be substantially done with the book when I returned, so I worked on it almost constantly in order to get it done, minus some time to read a book on the civil war and to watch some episodes I missed of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The book I ended up with is called, "Good Lives and Good People".

The way that I came up with this book is that I started to cut and paste postings from my blog site (which I had downloaded before leaving on vactaion) into the book that I intended to write, and discovered that I had a section that seemed to stand quite well on its own.

This is not just a collection of postings from my web site. That is what I started out to do, but the stand-alone section that I ended up with needed some substantial work to get it to hold together. I edited it extensively.

People who know me know how I edit.

The way that I describe my editing process - which is only a slight exaggeration - is by saying, "I ended up replacing everything except a comma on Page 44, and I moved that comma to Page 66."

That's actually what took so much effort - rewriting everything.

Here's what I ended up with:

About 170 pages that look at how to evaluate lives and people, to show that an atheist (or, at least, this atheist) can determine if a life is a good life or a person is a good person.

I did not go heavily into theory. I had already written that book, and did not want to simply write it again. This book is more of an application of the conclusions reached in that other book to a practical problem of trying to determine what counts as a good life and a good person.

And I wrote it with a heavy focus on atheism.

This is what concerned me in writing it. You've got all of these people who claim that atheists cannot come up with a way of talking about a life that has meaning and value, or talking about morality, without borrowing from Christian concepts. Some even argue that the mere fact that atheists use moral concepts is proof that they have some concept of a God.

Against that view, I wanted to make sure that this book approached those issues while paying attention to the debate between atheists and theists on the possibility of living a good life or being a good person.

After a few chapters on good lives and good people, I go on to discuss why it is the case that theism presents obstacles to living a good life or being a good person that atheism avoids.

I then address some issues in the general arena of 'militant atheists' and the attitudes that atheists should take towards religion.

Anyway, at this point, I would like to ask if there are people in the studio audience who would be willing to volunteer to read this manuscript and to tell me all of the really stupid things I said in it. I'm not just talking about the creative ways in which I spell words and the way I might, on occasion, write sentences without verbs, nouns, or punctuation. I'm talking about scribbling notes like, "This is the most absurd claim I have ever heard any human being make. Go find <> by <>, and you can see just how stupid this is."

If you want me to give you a PDF of the manuscript, just send me an email and let me know. Click on that 'contact' thingy in the top right section of this blog.

Except, you have to promise to have your comments in to me by October 1st. I'm not handing out free copies to whoever wants them. I really want this manuscript cleaned up, and I want to hear from somebody who is willing to help me do it.

Thank you.

Alonzo Fyfe

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