There's another new book out about how God doesn't exist, this time by a mathematician (where are the philosophers?). It got panned in a quotation-rich review in the New York Times. If the quotations are representative, then no wonder:
In his opening chapters Mr. Paulos uses simple logic to point up the gaping holes in the so-called first-cause argument. “Either everything has a cause, or there’s something that doesn’t,” he writes. “The first-cause argument collapses into this hole whichever tack we take. If everything has a cause, then God does, too, and there is no first cause. And if something doesn’t have a cause, it may as well be the physical world.”
What’s more, he notes, “the uncaused first cause needn’t have any traditional God-like qualities. It’s simply first, and as we know from other realms, being first doesn’t mean being best. No one brags about still using the first personal computers to come on the market. Even if the first cause existed, it might simply be a brute fact — or even worse, an actual brute.”
Doesn't seem the author has much familiarity with first-cause arguments. They typically make the distinction between the idea of a first cause and the idea of an uncaused cause. A first cause comes first in a series; an uncaused cause may not be a member of a series. As any student of intro to philosophy of religion knows, these represent entirely different arguments and one can't just lump them together. I might wonder about the author of the book, but I'm rather more perplexed by the review.
If I might whine a little bit here. The reviewer doesn't seem aware that there's an entire specialty that concerns itself with this kind of business. It's been at it for maybe 2500 years. While it's astounding that a non-specialist could simply thrust himself into this discussion completely unaware of its manifold iterations, it's depressing that the reviewer of the book doesn't bother to point out that simple fact.