More than a book review,

a whole new way of looking at you and me, and the rest of humanity.

Back on September 16th, I published the post Of paradoxes, and headaches! It included the fact that I was about 20% of the way through John Zande’s book The Owner of All Infernal Names.

John Zande cover_zpsz7wuq9cc

On Tuesday evening of this week, I finished the book and, without doubt, I shall be publishing a review on Amazon books by the end of the week. First, I wanted to share a longer reflection of Zande’s book with all of you dear readers.


One of the many five-star reviews of this book that has been published on the relevant Amazon page opens simply: “This is a beautifully written, terribly uncomfortable book to read.” I couldn’t better that summary. This is, indeed, a beautifully written book. Yet it is also a book that will forever change the way you think about species: Homo sapiens.

Zande offers a powerful argument that, “Following then the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the observer concludes with a level of argued certainty that a Creator must exist.” Then sets out to demonstrate that this Creator, far from being an expression of universal love, is fundamentally an expression of universal suffering. Reminding the reader that, “This world was never good. It was never peaceful, and never without suffering.”

For the first time in my life, Zande’s words had cause for me to reflect on something that, hitherto, had never dawned on me. That if there is a God, why have I, and countless others, assumed that this God be necessarily benevolent. The evidence presented in Zande’s book is comprehensive: that there was an evil origin to the universe and, more directly, that the deep, and growing, suffering of the pinnacle of evolution, us humans, can be traced back to that evil origin. Better than that, frequently the book is almost scientific. And in the best of scientific traditions, Zande adopts the position of a neutral witness.

Whether or not you are relaxed about that previous paragraph, and I suspect many readers will not, it is impossible not to be in awe of the beauty, the power, and the eloquence of Zande’s words. Take this opening paragraph of Zande’s chapter titled A SIGHTLESS CREATION.

It is a basal vagary, a question that screams for attention and if left unresolved – if left problematic – could invalidate all practicalities of a functioning Creation lorded by a maximally wicked Creator: Would sentient, attentive, self-respecting life choose to live in a world underwritten by evil? Could self-aware life endure a thoroughly hopeless reality?

Whether one is a believer in a religious god or not, it will also be impossible not to have one’s deepest emotions and beliefs about the nature of humankind stirred very deeply around. No-one who reads this book will be left unchanged.

If you have ever pondered about the way the world is heading, or more accurately put, about the way that we humans are managing our existence on Planet Earth, then you need to read this book. Period!


Reinforcing what I have just written is the latest essay from George Monbiot, that will be published on Learning from Dogs on Friday.

20 thoughts on “More than a book review,

  1. This books sounds a very interesting read, and without reading it in detail cannot comment one way or the other.. But my own view on God, is that we are all of us the Creators of our experiences.. All part of the whole, and I have not the words nor the intelligence to describe in a few words my feelings on what I can only go on as my ‘Knowing’ beyond what Science and Religious leaders proclaim ..

    The best description I have ever read was in one of Neale Donald Walsch books in his Conversations with God series, This is just one view on Good and Bad, and may shock some as well.. You would need to read more to see how that conversation panned out 🙂
    This is just one aspect of being impartial.. Because God is the ‘Source’ , not an individual with Human traits we give her. Or the morals we humans have bestowed upon ourselves in order for us to take a positive path. And to be controlled by.

    We are given a choice, Choice is our birth right, ‘Free Will’ we forget as humans we are also ‘Energy Beings’ and we can either project positive or negative.. The world around us revolves around these two energies.. We cannot experience Good without the Bad. But–All things need balance..
    As I view the world as we progress, what is it that we as a whole are projecting outwards.. Think! About it.. What is Hollywood promoting? It’s on Films, TV, Computer Games, Toys, Cartoons, Yes at the core of most of these films even the Fairy Stories, is VIOLENCE! Killing, Betrayal, Jealousies, Greed!..

    So nothing what you have said above about God is a shock at all to me.. Because we are reaping what has been sown within the consciousness of mankind.

    We are all of us Co-creators of our own Destiny.. Which is why I try to awaken people to the power within their own minds.. What we THINK! Is what we CREATE…

    I know I am but one pebble in a large ocean, but if enough of us keep sending out our ripples of Love, Compassion, Harmony and Peace.. WE can create a Tidal Change for the Balance to be regained.. And a more Peaceful world in UNITY CONCIOUSNESS can be established.

    This is why I see the mass migration of refugees a huge possibility for unity, if we grasp it and stop our petty differences and learn to share, and care, instead of holding on to everything.. We in reality own nothing!.. We are all of us custodians here on Planet Earth.. WE come with nothing and will leave with only that which we carry within our Hearts.

    It’s time we started to use our Hearts instead of our Heads, which have been twisted by past indoctrinations of beliefs passed down via Man, not GOD throughout time.
    And thank you for baring with my views, for again these are just MY views of which we all have Free will to agree or disagree 🙂 Such is the energies.. And one more thing before I go.. 🙂 Mankind has many Laws upon our planet.. But the real Laws none of us escape are the Universal Laws of Cosmic Energy and how they operate 🙂 But that is for another discussion lol 🙂
    Many thanks
    Sue xx


    1. Sue, your wonderful response is amazing. For not just the thought and effort you put into your reply but also for the candour and openness. If there was one sentence of yours that struck me as spot on, it was your declaration that what we think is what we create. Or as I often reflect, we are what we think. I could go on, but that would only weaken the previous sentence.

      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Paul. I have recently bought a paperback copy of John Zande’s book, and have so far only had an hour with it as I am mid-stream on three other books currently. I really warm to John’s writing style, and remarked elsewhere that it seemed to have the poetic elegance and philosophical tautness – a difficult combination! – of William James. Many will embrace their gods as (at times) vital sources of emotional solace, yet not conceive of them as creator divinities – one thinks of the Spinozan conception of ‘god as nature’ as just one example – and it would be as if to attack a Straw Man to suggest that there were any moral intent behind what we might call the on-going creation of the world, personified as those gods. Perhaps the concept of a creator-god as posited in John’s book allies more with the naïve notions received from our forebears than the aforementioned, looser conceptions? I shall reflect a little further on Amazon U.K. in a month or two once I have read it in full.


    1. Hariod, I can’t wait until you have finished John’s book for it would be terrific to share notes, so to speak. John’s reply reminded me that I have your own book on my ‘must read’ list. Will read it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poe’s Law: “Without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism”

    Thank you, Paul.


      1. But you’re smarter than 99 out of a 100 people, Hariod 🙂

        A professional apologist has taken up the challenge, he’s writing a rebuttal as we speak, and he thinks its real. The CEO at the Satanist Temple (his title, not my choice of words) was completely baffled by it. He couldn’t figure it out and was seriously abash in talking to me after reading it. It took a while and a number of emails, but when he finally figured out it was a parody he was openly relieved. It was quite strange. I think I scared him.

        BTW, am working my way through your work. it is astonishing! Heavy going, though. I’m reading it in bits, then re-reading, and re-reading again. Every sentence carries enormous weight, and I can see the thought that has gone into every word. It’s brilliant. .


  4. Sue, Hariod, and John,

    I have just woken up and read your responses. What incredibly wonderful expressions of deep sensitivity you offer.

    All deserve being thought about while our day gets underway. I will reply later today.

    Thank you.


  5. I have thought, and written, on evil for decades…
    The author, John Zande, seems to embrace the ancient Cathar theory that the creator of the world is obviously evil. The problem with this, is that love is even more important to human beings than evil (that’s easy to demonstrate). So, if one believes the occurrence of evil is absolute proof of an evil creator, the occurrence of love is absolute proof of a benevolent creator, by the same metalogic.

    Yet, there is no God but Evolution, and Evil is the Master’s stroke.

    So what’s the way out?
    Coincidentally, I am in the process of writing an essay on precisely this (not exactly for the very first time).


    1. Hi Patrice

      Insightful comment, and the logic is sound. The thesis presented in TOOAIN addresses the so-named Problem of Good. To paraphrase, good is a necessity. It spurs on growth. Ultimately, though, there is no good. What appears good is in fact little more than the means to greater and more efficient suffering. Love is also encouraged. In the book i cite this poem by Naomi Shihad, Kindness:

      Before you know what kindness really is
      you must lose things,
      feel the future dissolve in a moment
      like salt in a weakened broth.
      What you held in your hand,
      what you counted and carefully saved,
      all this must go so you know
      how desolate the landscape can be
      between the regions of kindness

      The premise is, love-lost is stronger and more potent than the fleeting curiosity of love-found. Complicated grief is a terrible ailment and serves to exemplify this. To love is to opening oneself up to tremendous physical and emotional pain, and to the Creator, this is pure cream.

      I also present a number of examples to demonstrate this point that there is no true ‘good,” including medicine in general, writing:

      Consider then the truth: More bodies doing more things over a longer time can only be scored as a breathtaking augmentation of resources.
      A general population dying at 35 cannot, by and large, produce the same quantity or quality of suffering generated through the extended life of a general population dying at age 80 or 90. Here man has added 30 years—an entire generation—to the duration of his potential suffering, which in the eyes of a debased being is to be applauded as not only a marvel of market optimisation, but an almost miraculous, self-inflicted diversification in the greater portfolio of potential pain.
      By permitting the development and maturation of innovative methods and practices which abet bodily longevity the Omnimalevolent Creator has positioned Himself to reap 20, 30, or even 40 years more pleasure from His game; drinking in the pang of creeping irrelevance, the pain of crippling arthritis, the emotional distress of immobility, mental degradation, senility, the anguish of seeing friends and loved ones die early, the anxiety of financial and perhaps political insecurity, and the hopelessness of a life bookmarked by death and conscious annihilation. In no uncertain terms, ruinous ageing is an abhorrent stain on even the most spectacular of lives lived, often robbing an individual of their most prized possession, their dignity, and this gradual drip of irreversible decay and the misery born of it can only be seen as a boon for a being who thrives on tapping into increasingly complex veins of suffering.

      Now, let me just say, the book is a parody of 19th Century natural theology works… and it was, at times, desperately hard to write the words. I couldn’t bring myself, for example, to detail all but three examples of animal cruelty.


      1. John, likewise, I hope Patrice will respond to your reply to him.

        For my own account, I am not good with parody and saw in your words, also desperately hard to read at times, emotionally so, a despairing reality of where we humans could be heading.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the answer, John, I will answer, but I have to think first (and need time for this). As usual, my answer will go towards the absoluteness of neurohormonal states. Goodness is not relative, because neurohormonal states are absolute.

        Liked by 1 person

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