As I understand it, this book is aimed not at the Christian, nor at the searching non-Christian but at the not-even-searching non-Christian, at the person who may believe in ‘god’ or may not, but most of all does not think that it makes much of a difference either way. In Part 1 of "Naked God" Ayers sets about to convince them otherwise. He starts by stripping back atheism so that its implications are left standing for all to see. They are not pretty.
Ayers’ first implication of atheism is ‘if God does not exist, there is no real meaning or purpose for our lives’ (p24). I’ve heard this before, but the way that Ayers walks us there – step by step - means it struck me quite hard. His second implication is “if God doesn’t exist, freedom is an illusion” (p27) and free will is a delusion. To be honest, I had never really realised this before. I really like how Ayers quotes the key atheists themselves. I don’t think you could read these chapters and walk away thinking it doesn’t matter whether God exists or not.
I sometimes catch myself viewing atheism as the ‘neutral ground’ or a default position. Reading these chapters reminded me that that’s simply not the case. ‘Atheism is a position of faith or belief just like any religion’ (p19). What’s more, its implications are so stark I was reminded of the importance of the question of God’s existence not just for myself, but also for my friends.
From what I’ve read so far, this is the kind of book you want to write your name in. It’s the kind of book that you write your name in (in pen) and then under it you write the names of the friends to whom you may lend it (in pencil, to be rubbed out upon lending of course). At least that’s my plan, so that each time I open it to read a bit more I pray for those friends and reflect on what they might think if they read it and in the end – lend it to them!