Few of the recent books on atheism have been worth reading just for wit and style, but this is one of them: Paulos is truly funny. Despite the title, the Temple University math professor doesn't actually discuss mathematics much, which will be a relief to any numerically challenged readers who felt intimidated by his previous book Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. In this short primer ("just the gist with an occasional jest") Paulos tackles 12 of the most common arguments for God, including the argument from design, the idea that a "moral universality" points to a creator God, the notion of first causes and the argument from coincidence, among others. Along the way, he intersperses irreverent and entertaining little chapterlets that contain his musings on various subjects, including a hilarious imagined IM exchange with God that slyly parodies Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God. "Why does solemnity tend to infect almost all discussions of religion?" Paulos asks, clearly bemoaning the dearth of humor. This little book goes a long way toward correcting the problem, and provides both atheists and religious apologists some digestible food for thought along the way. (Jan. 3)I hope the IM exchange described is as witty and funny as Raymond Smullyan's dialogue with God, "Is God a Taoist?" (also found in his excellent book The Tao is Silent and in Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter's anthology, The Mind's I).
UPDATE (January 14, 2008): Jim Holt reviews Paulos' book for the New York Times.