Although critics often argue that the new atheists are arrogant, dogmatic, closed-minded and so on, there is currently no philosophical analysis of this complaint - which I will call 'the vice charge' - and no assessment of whether it is merely a rhetorical aside or a substantive objection in its own right. This Chapter therefore uses the resources of virtue epistemology to articulate this 'vice charge' and to argue that critics are right to imply that new atheism is intrinsically (...) epistemically vicious, and it ends with some remarks about the rationality of allowing such intrinsically vicious doctrines to feature within public debate about important matters concerning science, religion, and politics. (shrink)
The so-called “New Atheism” is a relatively well-defined, very recent, still unfold- ing cultural phenomenon with import for public understanding of both science and philosophy. Arguably, the opening salvo of the New Atheists was The End of Faith by Sam Harris, published in 2004, followed in rapid succession by a number of other titles penned by Harris himself, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Victor Stenger, and Christopher Hitchens.
Descartes argues that, apart from the existence of a veracious God, we can have no reason to believe that we possess reliable cognitive faculties, with the result that, if atheism is true, not even our seemingly most certain beliefs can count as knowledge for us. Since the atheist denies the existence of God, he or she will be precisely in this position. I argue that Descartes' argument is sound, and that atheism is therefore self-refuting.
Although Kant argues that morality is prior to and independent of religion, Kant nevertheless claims that religion of a certain sort (“moral theism”) follows from morality, and that atheism poses threats to morality. Kant criticizes atheism as morally problematic in four ways: atheism robs the atheist of springs for moral action, leads the atheist to moral despair, corrupts the atheist’s moral character, and has a pernicious influence on the atheist’s community. I argue that Kant is right to (...) say that moral theism can help support morality, and that (for some people), morality leads to religion. But I also argue that one may refrain from accepting the existence of God and still act from respect for the moral law, resist despair, cultivate and retain a virtuous character, and pose no moral threat to one’s community. Indeed, theism, even moral theism, raises moral risks of its own. This article includes discussions of different versions of the highest good, and of two main types of atheism (skeptical and dogmatic). (shrink)
Preprinted in God and the Problem of Evil(Blackwell 2001), ed. William Rowe. Many people deny that evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. After all, they say, the grounds for belief in God are much better than the evidence for atheism, including the evidence provided by evil. We will not join their ranks on this occasion. Rather, we wish to consider the proposition that, setting aside grounds for belief in God and relying (...) only on the background knowledge shared in common by nontheists and theists, evil makes belief in atheism more reasonable for us than belief in theism. Our aim is to argue against this proposition. We recognize that in doing so, we face a formidable challenge. It’s one thing to say that evil presents a reason for atheism that is, ultimately, overridden by arguments for theism. It’s another to say that it doesn’t so much as provide us with a reason for atheism in the first place. In order to make this latter claim seem initially more plausible, consider the apparent design of the mammalian eye or the apparent fine-tuning of the universe to support life. These are often proposed as reasons to believe in theism. Critics commonly argue not merely that these supposed reasons for theism are overridden by arguments for atheism but rather that they aren’t good reasons for theism in the first place. Our parallel proposal with respect to evil and atheism is, initially at least, no less plausible than this proposal with respect to apparent design and theism. (shrink)
This paper addresses recent examples of militant atheism. It considers the theistic reply that describes atheism as deriving from a “God-shaped hole” in the human soul. The paper will argue that American pragmatism offers a middle path that avoids militant atheism without suffering from this problem. The paper describes this middle path and considers the problem that is seen in Rorty’s recent work: how the pragmatist can remain critical of religious fundamentalism without succumbing to a militant version (...) of atheism. The solution proposed is tolerant acceptance of religion along with melioristic criticism developed within shared norms of inquiry. (shrink)
The question of whether or not God exists is endlessly fascinating and profoundly important. Now two articulate spokesmen--one a Christian, the other an atheist--duel over God's existence in a lively and illuminating battle of ideas. In God?, William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong bring to the printed page two debates they held before live audiences, preserving all the wit, clarity, and immediacy of their public exchanges. With none of the opaque discourse of academic logicians and divinity-school theologians, the authors make (...) claims and comebacks that cut with precision. Their arguments are sharp and humorous, as each philosopher strikes quickly to the heart of his opponent's case. For example, Craig claims that we must believe in God to explain objective moral values, such as why rape is wrong. Sinnott-Armstrong responds that what makes rape wrong is the harm to victims of rape, so rape is immoral even if there is no God. From arguments about the nature of infinity and the Big Bang, to religious experience and divine action, to the resurrection of Jesus and the problem of evil, the authors treat us to a remarkable display of intelligence and insight--a truly thought-provoking exploration of a classic issue that remains relevant to contemporary life. (shrink)
Arguing for Atheism introduces a wide range of topics in the philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Robin Le Poidevin does not simply defend a denial of God's existence; he presents instead a way of intepreting religious discourse which allows us to make sense of the role of religion in our spiritual and moral lives. Ideal as a textbook for university courses in the philosophy of religion and metaphysics, Arguing for Atheism is also designed to be accessible, in its (...) style and its numerous explanations, to the general reader. (shrink)
In recent years, a series of bestselling atheist manifestos by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens has thrust the topic of the rationality of religion into the public discourse. Christian moderates of an intellectual bent and even some agnostics and atheists have taken umbrage and lashed back. In this paper I defend the New Atheists against three common charges: that their critiques of religion commit basic logical fallacies (such as straw man, false dichotomy, or hasty generalization), that their own (...)atheism is just as “faith-based” as the religious beliefs they criticize, and that their expressed disrespect for religious belief is immoral. (shrink)
People in many parts of the world link morality with God and see good ethical values as an important benefit of theistic belief. A recent survey showed that Americans, for example, distrust atheists more than any other group listed in the survey, this distrust stemming mainly from the conviction that only believers in God can be counted on to respect morality. I argue against this widespread tendency to see theism as the friend of morality. I argue that our most serious (...) moral obligations -- the foundations of what can be called “ordinary morality” -- remain in place only if God doesn’t exist. In recent years, some atheists have reacted to society’s distrust of them by claiming that atheism accommodates ordinary morality just as well as theism does. The truth is even stronger: only atheism accommodates ordinary morality. Logically speaking, morality is not common ground between theists and atheists. Morality depends on atheism. (shrink)
Spectres of False Divinity presents a historical and critical interpretation of Hume's rejection of the existence of a deity with moral attributes. In Hume's view, no first cause or designer responsible for the ordered universe could possibly have moral attributes; nor could the existence (or non-existence) of such a being have any real implications for human practice or conduct. Hume's case for this 'moral atheism' is a central plank of both his naturalistic agenda in metaphysics and his secularizing program (...) in moral theory. It complements his wider critique of traditional theism, and threatens to rule out any religion that would make claims on moral practice. Thomas Holden situates Hume's commitment to moral atheism in its historical and philosophical context, offers a systematic interpretation of his case for divine amorality, and shows how Hume can endorse moral atheism while maintaining his skeptical attitude toward traditional forms of cosmological and theological speculation. (shrink)
While Hume has often been held to have been an agnostic or atheist, several contemporary scholars have argued that Hume was a theist. These interpretations depend chiefly on several passages in which Hume allegedly confesses to theism. In this paper, I argue against this position by giving a threshold characterization of theism and using it to show that Hume does not confess. His most important confession does not cross this threshold and the ones that do are often expressive rather than (...) assertive. I then argue that Hume is best interpreted as an atheist. Instead of interpreting Hume as a proto-logical positivist and arguing on the basis of Hume’s theories of meaning and method, I show that textually he appears to align himself with atheism, that his arguments in the Dialogues on Natural Religion support atheism, and that this position is most consistent with Hume’s naturalism. But, I hold that his atheism is soft and therefore distinct from that of his peers like Baron d’Holbach—while Hume really does reject theism, he neither embraces a dogmatically materialist position nor takes up a purely polemical stance towards theism. I conclude by suggesting several ways in which Hume’s atheistic philosophy of religion is relevant to contemporary discussions. (shrink)
Autoimmunity of time : Derrida and Kant -- Arche-writing : Derrida and Husserl -- Arche-violence : Derrida and Levinas -- Autoimmunity of life : Derrida's radical atheism -- Autoimmunity of democracy : Derrida and Laclau.
Prologue -- Introduction -- The virtuous atheist -- The oral and written public sphere -- Books and pamphlets -- Periodicals -- The philosophe response -- Institutional reactions in France -- The Christian Enlightenment? -- Beyond the Christian Enlightenment -- Appendices. D'Holbach's publications, 1752-1789 -- Responses in French to d'Holbach's publications, 1752-1789 -- The corpus of periodical press articles produced in reaction to d'Holbach's publications.
Resumo O fundamentalismo é um fenômeno relativamente recente, pelo menos como posição articulada e autoconsciente. O presente artigo apresenta, de início, uma reflexão sobre o surgimento do termo fundamentalismo, em breve resgate histórico. A seguir, identifica e analisa as características principais dessa atitude, tanto na sua configuração psicológica (subjetivismo fechado), como na sua teoria epistemológica implícita (fideísmo radical, fé ou submissão a uma autoridade religiosa como fonte exclusiva ou predominante de certeza epistemológica), na sua hermenêutica (liberalismo na interpretação de escrituras) (...) e na sua maneira de priorizar um ativismo radical, na perspectiva pragmática (tendência a medidas radicais, à militância e até ao terrorismo no prosseguimento efetivo dos seus fins). Aplicando essa análise, mostra que os debates atuais entre cristãos e "neoateus" parecem frequentemente fundamentalistas, mas não apenas do lado religioso da disputa. Talvez o nome de fundamentalista possa ser reivindicado por alguns que ficariam bem surpresos pela nova titulação. A última parte do artigo discute a religião "usada" e "abusada". Palavras-chave: Ateísmo; Fundamentalismo; Filosofia da religião.Fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, at least as an articulated and self-conscious position. The present article begins by reflecting on the origin of the term fundamentalism in a brief historical review. Then the principal characteristics of this attitude are identified and analyzed, both in its psychological configuration (a closed subjectivity), as well as in its implicit epistemological theory (radical fideism, faith or submission to a religiou authority as exclusive or predominant source of epistemological certitude), its hermeneutics (literalism in the interpretation of scriptures) and its manner of prioritizing radical activisim in its pragmatic perspective (tendency to radical means, to militancy and even terrorism in the effective persecution of its ends). Applying this analysis, current debates between Christians and "neo-atheists" appear frequently fundamentalist, but not only on the religious side of the dispute. Perhaps the name fundamentalist can be claimed even by some who would be quite surprised by the new christening. The last part of the article discusses "used" and "abused" religion. Key words : Atheism; fundamentalism; philosophy of religion. (shrink)
In the past decade, the cognitive science of religion has worked to find an evolutionary explanation for supernatural belief. The explanations are convincing, but have created the stereotype that atheism is unnatural. In a similar way studies linking religious belief and health have vilified atheism as unhealthy. But belief is too complex, health is too nuanced, and the data are too varied to draw such a generalization. Catherine Caldwell-Harris has developed a psychological profile to understand nonbelief as an (...) expected outcome of individual difference and therefore natural. In a similar manner I argue that we should study the relationship between belief and health through the lens of individual differences. This approach is especially promising given recent research which indicates personality fully accounts for the relationship with well-being previously attributed to belief. This approach has the added benefit of neutralizing the conversation by understanding atheism as the healthy expression of a natural personality. (shrink)
Atheisms Today -- The God of Metaphysics -- The God of the Poets -- Difficult Atheism -- Beyond A/theism? Quentin Meillassoux -- The Politics of the Post-Theological I: Justifying the Political -- The Politics of the Post-Theological II: Justice -- General Conclusion: How to Follow an 'Atheism' That Never Was.
Translator's preface -- Commentator's preface -- Commentator's introduction -- J.G. Fichte : on the ground of our belief in a divine world-governance -- Commentary: on the ground of our belief in a divine world-governance -- Text: on the ground of our belief in a divine world-governance -- F.K. Forberg : development of the concept of religion -- Commentary: development of the concept of religion -- Text: development of the concept of religion -- G.: a father's letter to his student son (...) about Fichte's and forberg's atheism -- Commentary: a father's letter to his student son about Fichte's and Forberg's atheism -- Text: a father's letter to his student son abou tFichte's and Gorberg's atheism -- Friedrich August : Saxon requisition letter to the Weimar Court and Karl August : Weimar rescript to the University of Jena -- Commentary: Saxon requisition letter to the Weimar Court and Weimar rescript to the University of Jena -- Text: Saxon requisition letter to the weimar court -- Text: Weimar rescript to the University of Jena -- J.G. Fichte: appeal to the public -- Commentary: appeal to the public -- Text: appeal to the public -- K.l. Reinhold: letter to Fichte -- Commentary:letter to fichte -- Text: letter to Fichte -- J.G. Fichte : juridical defense -- Commentary: juridical defense -- Text: juridical defense -- Ernst I. Ludwig : Gotha rescript to the University of Jena -- Commentary: Gotha rescript to the University of Jena -- Text: Gotha rescript to the University of Jena -- Students of the University of Jena : first petition to Duke Karl, August of Saxony, Weimar, Eisenach and Karl August : first reply to the University of Jena and students of the University of Jena : second petition to Duke Karl, August of Saxony, Weimar, Eisenach and Karl August : second reply to the University of Jena -- Commentary: first and second petitions to Duke Karl, August of Saxony, Weimar, Eisenach and first and second replies to the University of Jena -- Text: first petition to Duke Karl, August of Saxony, Weimar, Eisenach -- Text: first reply to the University of Jena -- Text: second petition to Duke Karl, August of Saxony, Weimar, Eisenach -- Text: second reply to the University of Jena -- J.G. Fichte : from a private letter -- Commentary: from a private letter -- Text: from a private letter -- J.G. Fichte : concluding remark by the editor -- Commentary: concluding remark by the editor -- Text: concluding remark by the editor. (shrink)
É possível viver no mundo sem Deus? É possível viver no mundo sem religião? O autor deste texto apresenta uma resposta afirmativa a essas indagações, fundamentando-a com as ideias de Bertrand Russell. Para o autor, quando a noção de viver bem é fundamentada na verdade provisória da ciência e contrária à vida proposta pela religião, os fiéis e os representantes eclesiásticos utilizam argumentos emocionais e falaciosos para postular a verdade da fé. Ele parte do pressuposto de que entre religião e (...) ciência há conflitos, e não diálogos. Os conflitos se instauram na medida em que se percebe que a verdade humana é de processos, erros e acertos, não de certezas. A certeza da existência de Deus e do plano divino se justifica a partir de argumentos emocionais, que no mais das vezes levam a atos de crueldade e violência, como mostra a história. Para melhor compreender de que maneira os argumentos emocionais dos fiéis são legitimados, o autor recorre ao caso pessoal de Russell, quando o filósofo se viu impedido de lecionar na Faculdade de Filosofia Municipal de Nova York, nos anos 40 do século XX, devido a seu pensamento contrário à religião. Palavras-chave : Ateísmo; Religião; Ciência; Fundamentalismo religioso.Is it possible to live without God? Is it possible to live without religion in the midst of faithful? Starting from the premise of conflict, not dialogue, between religion and science, the author uses the ideas of Bertrand Russell to support affirmative answers to these questions. When the notion of the good life is based on the provisional truth of science, rather than on religion, the faithful and the ecclesiastic representatives postulate the truth of faith using emotional and fallacious arguments. The conflict between religion and science arises with the perception that human truth is based on processes, errors and successes, not on certainties. The conviction of the existence of God and of a divine plan is justified by emotional arguments, in general accompanied by acts of cruelty and violence, as we know from history. In order to improve our understanding of how the faithful attempt to justify their emotional arguments, the author cites Russell's case, when the philosopher was prevented from teaching at the College of the City of New York (CCNY), in the 1940s due to his anti-religious ideas. Key words : Atheism; Religion; Science; Religious fundamentalism. (shrink)
Michel Onfray e André Comte-Sponville são os dois mais famosos representantes do ateísmo filosófico francês contemporâneo, que continua uma tradição iniciada no século XVIII de negação irreligiosa da noção monoteísta de Deus. Embora compartilhando várias ideias, como o naturalismo e, obviamente, a rejeição do monoteísmo, suas propostas têm diferenças importantes. Onfray imputa à religião a maioria dos males enfrentados pela humanidade, recusando-se a fazer qualquer concessão à tradição religiosa monoteísta, e propondo uma filosofia libertária de tipo hedonista e materialista. Comte-Sponville (...) vê aspectos positivos na religião no tocante à manutenção da unidade social e propõe uma espiritualidade mística ateia. O artigo faz uma breve apresentação de suas teses e formula críticas a ambas as propostas. Onfray está muito mais preocupado em convencer de uma proposta política do que em argumentar filosoficamente em favor de uma tese e Comte-Sponville não parece perceber as consequências auto-refutadoras do naturalismo, que também torna muito problemática a própria noção de moralidade. Palavras-chave: Michel Onfray; Comte-Sponville; ateísmo; neoateísmo; naturalismo.Michel Onfray and André Comte-Sponville are the most famous representatives of philosophical contemporary French atheism, which is a continuation of a tradition begun in the 18 th Century of irreligious denying of the monotheistic notion of God. Although sharing many ideas, like naturalism and, obviously, the rejection of the monotheistic conception of God, their proposals show important distinctions. Onfray blames on religion most of evils faced by humanity, refusing to make any concession to monotheism, and proposing a libertarian, hedonistic, materialistic philosophy. Comte-Sponville sees positive aspects in religion regarding the keeping of social unity, and puts forward an atheistic spirituality. The article makes a brief presentation of both theses and formulates criticisms to each of them. Onfray is much more concerned with convincing of a political proposal than with arguing in favour of his thesis philosophically, and Comte-Sponville does not seem to notice the self-defeating consequences of naturalism, which also makes very problematic the very notion of morality. Keywords: Michel Onfray; Comte-Sponville; atheism; neoatheism; naturalism. (shrink)
A revised and expanded version of a talk given by Richard Rorty on the occasion of the award of the Meister-Eckhart Sachbuch preis in December 2001, the article provides for its author an occasion for highlighting the latest developments regarding the condition of reli- gion, religiosity, belief, faith, and atheism. Starting from the common sense and rather numerous instances of those who are „religiously unmusical,“ Richard Rorty looks briefly at the meandering course of secularization, endors- ing the idea that (...) the conflict between science and religion is a struggle for supremacy between two institutions. Dealing mostly with Gianni Vattimo’s book Credere di credere, the American philosopher builds, in his unmistak- able style, rich in highlights and shades, a case for the question of the (post)modernist believer, but also an occasion to notice the entrenching line separating the religious from the non-religious person, as two opposing ways of interpreting transcendence: as dependence, for the religious person; as hope, for the non-religious one. (shrink)
Drawing on MacIntyre’s encyclopaedia–genealogy–tradition typology of the humanities, the author describes Averintsev’s project as bringing together the elements of encyclopaedia and tradition. The article identifies three forms of isolationism which are evident not only in ‘post-atheistic’ societies but more widely, and comments on Averintev’s treatment of these.
In this article, we examine in detail the New Atheists' most serious argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, namely, Richard Dawkins's Ultimate 747 Gambit. Dawkins relies upon a strong explanatory principle involving simplicity. We systematically inspect the various kinds of simplicity that Dawkins may invoke. Finding his crucial premises false on any common conception of simplicity, we conclude that Dawkins has not given good reason to think God does not exist.
Divided into four parts, this treatise begins with well-known criticisms of nonreligious ethics and then develops an atheistic metaethics. In Part 2, Martin criticizes the Christian foundation of ethics, specifically the ’divine command theory’ and the idea of imitating the life of Jesus as the basis of Christian morality. Part 3 demonstrates that life can be meaningful in the absence of religious belief. Part 4 criticizes the theistic point of view in general terms as well as the specific Christian doctrines (...) of the atonement, salvation, and the resurrection. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that atheists who think that the issue of God's existence or non-existence is an important one; assign a greater than negligible probability to God's existence; and are not in possession of a plausible argument for scepticism about the truth-directedness of uttering such prayers in their own cases, are under a prima facie epistemic obligation to pray to God that He stop them being atheists.
Dennis Whitcomb argues that there is no God on the grounds that (i) God is supposed to be omniscient, yet (ii) nothing could be omniscient due to the nature of grounding. We give a formally identical argument that concludes that one of the present co-authors does not exist. Since he does exist, Whitcomb’s argument is unsound. But why is it unsound? That is a difficult question. We venture two answers. First, one of the grounding principles that the argument relies on (...) is false. Second, the argument equivocates between two kinds of grounding: instance-grounding and quasi-mereological grounding. Happily, the equivocation can be avoided; unhappily, avoidance comes at the price of a false premise. (shrink)
When I was fifteen, I was having serious doubts about the existence of a supernatural entity benevolently looking over me, and—perhaps even more disturbingly—about the possibility of an afterlife in which I would again see my friends and relatives and exist happily ever after. It was at that point that I started reading the writings of Bertrand Russell,1,2 one of the most controversial philosophers and political activists of the Twentieth century.
The paper analyzes, from a perspective which is itself existential-ontological, the way in which in an early text of Martin Heidegger, Phänomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles (Anzeige der hermeneutischen Situation)  – which had already outlined some determinative elements of the ideas expounded in Being and Time –, the meditation on the always living and current conditions and hermeneutical situation of philosophizing expanded in fact into an inquiry about the origins, grounds, essence and sense of philosophy as such. Meditation in and (...) through which philosophy identifies itself and is founded on the one hand exactly as a mode of existence of the mortal “human Dasein” (menschliches Dasein), that is a factic mode of existence of this, philosophy, on the other hand, itself originates from and in man’s factic life exactly with the aim of being the modality through which this being – namely ourselves – returns towards the problematization of his existential possibilities even by taking upon himself the burden and “weight” of radical interrogation. Which therefore goes and must go itself and resolutely – because if this entirely “without God” and consequently a-theist – to the historical and ontological roots of a present con-temporarized (mitzeitigt) both with the past and the future existential horizons of the assumed factic possibilities. (shrink)