_Radical Atheism_ presents a profound new reading of the influential French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Against the prevalent notion that there was an ethical or religious "turn" in Derrida's thinking, Hägglund argues that a radical atheism informs Derrida's work from beginning to end. Proceeding from Derrida's insight into the constitution of time, Hägglund demonstrates how Derrida rethinks the condition of identity, ethics, religion, and political emancipation in accordance with the logic of radical atheism. Hägglund challenges other major interpreters of (...) Derrida's work and offers a compelling account of Derrida's thinking on life and death, good and evil, self and other. Furthermore, Hägglund does not only explicate Derrida's position but also develops his arguments, fortifies his logic, and pursues its implications. The result is a groundbreaking deconstruction of the perennial philosophical themes of time and desire as well as pressing contemporary issues of sovereignty and democracy. (shrink)
Many atheists argue that because gratuitous evil exists, God (probably) doesn’t. But doesn’t this commit atheists to wishing that God did exist, and to the protheist view that the world would have been better had God existed? This doesn’t follow. I argue that if all that evil still remains but is just no longer gratuitous, then, from an atheist perspective, that wouldn’t have been better. And while a counterfactual from which that evil is literally absent would have been impersonally better, (...) it wouldn’t have been better for anyone, including for those who suffered such evils. (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.
Peter Millican and Branden Thornhill-Miller have recently argued that contradictions between different religious belief systems, in conjunction with the host of defeaters based on empirical research concerning alleged sources of evidence for ‘perceived supernatural agency’, render all ‘first-order’, that is actual, religious traditions positively irrational, and a source of discord on a global scale. However, since the authors recognise that the ‘secularisation thesis’ appears to be incorrect, and that empirical research provides evidence that religious belief also has beneficial individual and (...) social effects, they put forward a hypothesis of a ‘second-order religious belief ’, with Universalist overtones and thus free of intergroup conflict, and free of irrationality, since supported (solely) by the Fine-Tuning Argument. While granting most of their arguments based on empirical research and embracing the new paradigm of the atheism/religion debate implicit in their paper, I contend that Millican’s and Thornhill-Miller’s proposal is unlikely to appeal to religious believers, because it misconstrues the nature and grounds of religious belief. I suggest that their hypothesis may be refined by taking into account a view of axiologically grounded religious belief that I refer to as ‘agatheism’, since it identifies God or the Ultimate Reality with the ultimate good (to agathon). (shrink)
Difficult Atheism shows how contemporary French philosophy is rethinking the legacy of the death of God in ways that take the debate beyond the narrow confines of atheism into the much broader domain of post-theological thinking. Christopher Watkin argues that Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy and Quentin Meillassoux each elaborate a distinctive approach to the post-theological, but that each approach still struggles to do justice to the death of God.
Atheism: The Basics is a concise and engaging introduction to belief in the non-existence of deities. Atheism has long fascinated people but debate around this controversial position may seem daunting. In this lively and lucid book, Graham Oppy addresses the following important questions: -/- • What does it mean to be an atheist? -/- • What is the difference between atheism, agnosticism, theism and innocence? -/- • How has atheism been distributed over time and place? -/- (...) • What does science tell us about atheism? -/- • Are there good reasons to be an atheist? -/- • Are there good reasons not to be an atheist? -/- • What do we mean by ‘new atheism'? -/- With a glossary of key terms and suggestions for further reading throughout, the book considers key philosophical arguments around atheism, making this an ideal starting point for anyone seeking a full introduction to the arguments between those who hold atheistic beliefs and those who do not. (shrink)
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.
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)
The theistic argument from beauty has what we call an 'evil twin', the argument from ugliness. The argument yields either what we call 'atheist win', or, when faced with aesthetic theodicies, 'agnostic tie' with the argument from beauty.
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.
Inaugurating the Prometheus Lecture Series, this collection of clear and compelling essays by distinguished philosopher Flew (philosophy emeritus, U. of Reading, UK) addresses the many and diverse aspects of atheistic humanism, and is arranged in four parts: fundamentals of unbelief; defending knowledge and responsibility; scientific socialism?; and applied philosophy. Most of the essays draw more or less heavily on previous publications. Annotation copyright by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.
In recent years atheism has become ever more visible, acceptable, and influential. Atheist apologists have become increasingly vociferous and confident in their claims. In Atheist Overreach, Christian Smith takes a look at the evidence and explains why we ought to be skeptical of some key atheists' claims about morality, science, and human nature.
This is a Cambridge *Element*, on the topic of atheism and agnosticism. It contains four main parts. First, there is an introduction in which atheism and agnosticism are explained. Second, a theoretical background to assessment. Third, a case for preferring atheism to theism. Fourth, a case for preferring agnosticism to theism.
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)
An emerging body of research suggests that psychedelic experiences can change users’ religious or metaphysical beliefs. Here I explore issues concerning psychedelic-induced belief change via a critique of some recent arguments by Wayne Glausser. Two scientific studies seem to show that psychedelic experiences can convert atheists to belief in God, but Glausser holds that academic and popular discussions of these studies are misleading. I offer a different analysis of the relevant findings, attempting to preserve the insights of Glausser’s critique while (...) setting the record straight on some important points. For one thing, the studies provide stronger evidence for atheist deconversion than Glausser allows. For another, Glausser’s arguments against the “Metaphysical Belief Theory” of psychedelic therapy involve scientifically dubious claims and inferences. Finally, in evaluating this theory, we ought to focus on its strongest version, which posits belief shifts from metaphysical naturalism to non-naturalism, rather than from atheism to classical monotheism. (shrink)
Explicit atheism is a philosophical position according to which belief in God is irrational, and thus it should be rejected. In this paper, I revisit, extend, and defend against the most telling counter arguments the Kalām Cosmological Argument in order to show that explicit atheism must be deemed as a positively irrational position.
Getting oriented -- An (a)theological dead end -- Naturalism's shortcut -- Unexplored territory: moral evolution -- Updating God -- A relationally responsive god -- A kinder god -- A nonviolent god -- Challenging the new theism -- Atheism's brave new world.
This book challenges the widespread assumption that the ethical life and society must be moral in any objective sense. In his previous works, Marks has rejected both the existence of such a morality and the need to maintain verbal, attitudinal, practical, and institutional remnants of belief in it. This book develops these ideas further, with emphasis on constructing a positive alternative. Calling it “desirism”, Marks illustrates what life and the world would be like if we lived in accordance with our (...) rational desires rather than the dictates of any actual or pretend morality, neither overlaying our desires with moral sanction nor attempting to override them with moral strictures. Hard Atheism and the Ethics of Desire also argues that atheism thereby becomes more plausible than the so-called New Atheism that attempts to give up God and yet retain morality. (shrink)
It is a commonly held view that the existence of moral value somehow depends upon the existence of God. Some proponents of this view take the very strong position that atheism entails that there is no moral value; but most take the weaker position that atheism cannot explain what moral value is, or how it could have come into being. Call the first position Incompatibility, and the second position Inadequacy. In this paper, I will focus on the arguments (...) for Inadequacy. There are two main arguments for this position: the Argument from Arbitrariness and the Screening-Off Argument. I’ll discuss each in turn., and argue that neither is successful. To conclude, I’ll sketch what I think is a promising beginning to a naturalistic account of morality. (shrink)
The clash between atheism and religion has become the defining battle of the 21st century. Books on and about atheism retain high profile and popularity, and atheist movements on both sides of the Atlantic capture headlines with high-profile campaigns and adverts. However, very little has been written on the history of atheism, and this book fills that conspicuous gap. Instead of treating atheism just as a philosophical or scientific idea about the non-existence of God, Atheists: The (...) Origin of the Species places the movement in its proper social and political context. Because atheism in Europe developed in reaction to the Christianity that dominated the continent's intellectual, social and political life, it adopted, adapted and reacted against its institutions as well as its ideas. Accordingly, the history of atheism is as much about social and political movements as it is scientific or philosophical ideas."--book jacket. (shrink)
When the Neo- or "New Atheist" publishing frenzy climaxed with Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Sam Harris's The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens' god is not Great and subsequent titles; New Atheists repeatedly denounced the Bible as dangerously false, suppressive to scientific inquiry, and as inculcating and promoting problematic, contemptible, even abhorrent moral values. The Genesis 1-11 and 19 Creation, Noah, and Lot narratives persist among the New Atheists' favorite targets. Heretofore there has been (...) no systematic examination of New Atheist treatments of Genesis generally or Genesis 1-11 and 19 particularly. This article scrutinizes leading New Atheist interpretations of Genesis 1-11 and 19 articulated by Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Part one documents these New Atheist renderings of Genesis 1-11 and 19 through the entire corpus of their published books. Part two synthesizes, applies, and extends relevant Genesis 1-11 and 19 scholarship to appraise and respond to the most serious New Atheist allegations, concluding that a more rigorous analysis of Genesis 1-11 and 19 nullifies and potentially reverses New Atheist criticisms. (shrink)
_The Athiest’s Primer_ is a concise but wide-ranging introduction to a variety of arguments, concepts, and issues pertaining to belief in God. In lucid and engaging prose, Malcom Murray offers a penetrating yet fair-minded critique of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. He then explores a number of other important issues relevant to religious belief, such as the problem of suffering and the relationship between religion and morality, in each case arguing that atheism is preferable to theism. (...) The book will appeal to both students and professionals in the philosophy of religion, as well as general audiences interested in the topic. (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)
Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.
The chapter argues that atheism need pose no hurdle to practicing the Twelve Steps given the importance of action over belief in Twelve Step spirituality. The chapter proposes two theologically anti-realist approaches, fictionalism and reductionism, that provide philosophical coherence to an atheist practicing the Twelve Steps and concludes with a discussion of the virtue of theological open-mindedness.
Surveys over the last twenty years have seen an ever-growing number of Americans disclaim religious affiliations and instead check the "none" box. In the first sociological exploration of organized secularism in America, Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith show how one segment of these "nones" have created a new, cohesive atheist identity through activism and the creation of communities. According to Cimino and Smith, the new upsurge of atheists is a reaction to the revival of religious fervor in American politics since (...) 1980. Feeling overlooked and underrepresented in the public sphere, atheists have employed a wide variety of strategies-some evangelical, some based on identity politics-to defend and assert themselves against their ideological opponents. These strategies include building and maintaining communities, despite the absence of the kinds of shared rituals, texts, and laws that help to sustain organized religions.Drawing on in-depth interviews with self-identified atheist, secularist, and humanist leaders and activists, as well as extensive observations and analysis of secular gatherings and media, Cimino and Smith illustrate how atheists organize and align themselves toward common goals, and how media-particularly web-based media-have proven invaluable in connecting atheists to one another and in creating a powerful virtual community. Cimino and Smith suggest that secularists rely not only on the Internet for community-building, but on their own new forms of ritual.This groundbreaking study will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the growing atheist movement in America. (shrink)
Philosophical atheism claims not only that there are no sufficient reasons for believing there is a God, but also that there are sufficient reasons for thinking no such deity exists. The purpose of this article is to explicate the typical commitments of this position. After distinguished several related views, the article will then consider typical grounds for the rejection of theistic commitments, first by showing that the theistic position makes a stronger claim and therefore carries the burden of proof. (...) The article will then consider rejections of theistic attempts to shift this burden and atheist responses, including considerations of both natural and revealed theology. The intent is to present the general shape of rejections and commitments rather than proffering conclusive refutations and defenses. (shrink)
Most atheists are error theorists about theists; they claim that theists have genuine beliefs about the existence and nature of a divine being, but as a matter of fact no such divine being exists. Thus on their view the relevant theistic beliefs are mistaken. As error theorists, then, atheists need to arrive at some answer to the question of what practical course of action the atheist should adopt towards the theistic beliefs held by committed theists. The most natural answer and (...) the one that we see being implemented by many prominent atheists today, can be stated roughly as follows: -/- (1) Theistic Eliminativism: Atheists should marshal the best arguments at their disposal and present them to theists in the hopes that theists will come to appreciate that their religious beliefs are systemically erroneous. Furthermore, on coming to this realization, a theist should abandon not just his specific religious beliefs, but also more generally his religious practices and theistic framework for viewing the world, and adopt a secular point of view instead. -/- One of the main goals of this paper is to show that, despite its popularity, eliminativism is not the only option for the atheist to adopt. In order to do so, I draw on recent work in meta-ethics on moral error theories, work which has helped to outline a number of alterative courses of action that someone might take towards a group which is said to have widespread erroneous beliefs. (shrink)
When pressed, many atheists offer three reasons why they reject theism: there is strong evidence against theism, there is no strong evidence for theism, and theism is so outrageous that it needs a great deal of support in order for us to believe it in a reasonable manner. I examine the third reason, arguing that it fails.
Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with a cataclysmic explosion called "the Big Bang." The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers, William Lane (...) Craig and Quentin Smith, who defend opposing positions. Craig argues that the Big Bang that began the universe was created by God, while Smith argues that the Big Bang has no cause. Alternating chapters by the two philosophers criticize and attempt to refute preceding arguments. Their arguments are based on Einstein's theory of relativity and include a discussion of the new quantum cosmology recently developed by Stephen Hawking and popularized in A Brief History of Time. (shrink)
At first glance, atheism seems simple to define. If atheism is the negation of theism, and if theism is the view that at least one god exists, then atheism is the negation of this view. However, the common definitions that follow from this insight suffer from two problems: first, they often leave undefined what “god” means, and, second, they understate the scope of the disagreement between theists and atheists, which often has as much to do with the (...) fundamental character of reality as with the existence of one being in it. Some writers address the second problem by reinterpreting atheism as the logical consequence of particular metaphysical views, such as naturalism or physicalism, which are then taken as the true meaning of atheism. These interpretations, though more satisfactory in some respects, can result in concepts of atheism that are unclear or too narrow, and they often still leave “god” undefined. In this paper, I propose that atheism be defined as the proposition that reality is solely an impersonal order. Theism is the proposition that reality is not solely an impersonal order, being either a personal order, that is, an order founded by at least one person, or an impersonal order plus at least one transcendent person. A god is a person who is not subject to the laws governing that order and thus transcends it. I explain these definitions and briefly discuss some of their implications. First I survey prior definitions of atheism to display the problems they raise. (shrink)
_The easy way to understand atheism and secular philosophy_ For people seeking a non-religious philosophy of life, as well as believers with atheist friends, _Atheism For Dummies_ offers an intelligent exploration of the historical and moral case for atheism. Often wildly misunderstood, atheism is a secular approach to life based on the understanding that reality is an arrangement of physical matter, with no consideration of unverifiable spiritual forces. _Atheism For Dummies_ offers a brief history of atheist philosophy (...) and its evolution, explores it as a historical and cultural movement, covers important historical writings on the subject, and discusses the nature of ethics and morality in the absence of religion. A simple, yet intelligent exploration of an often misunderstood philosophy Explores the differences between explicit and implicit atheism A comprehensive, readable, and thoroughly unbiased resource As the number of atheists worldwide continues to grow, this book offers a broad understanding of the subject for those exploring atheism as an approach to living. (shrink)
In this book two philosophers, each committed to unambiguous versions of belief and disbelief, debate the central issues of atheism and theism. Considers one of the oldest and most widely disputed philosophical questions: is there a God? Presents the atheism/theism issue in the form of philosophical debate between two highly regarded scholars, widely praised for the clarity and verve of their work. This second edition contains new essays by each philosopher, responding to criticisms and building on their previous (...) work. (shrink)
By the term ‘New Atheism’ several authors and their books are subsumed under one label, most prominently The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris, and God Is Not Great: Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. Besides an introduction to the ideas expressed in these books and the reception of the ‘New Atheists’ in the public discourse, (...) the article comprises a criticism of the label ‘New Atheism’. (shrink)
‘Atheism’ is a term that has historically carried a wide range of meanings and connotations. Popular speech, in particular, admits of a range of definitions, but the same is true of contemporary scholarly usage also. This chapter therefore surveys the sheer variety of ways of defining ‘atheism’, before outlining the pressing need for a generally agreed-upon usage in the growing—and, thus far, Babel-like—field of scholarship on atheism. It then outlines and explains the precise definition used throughout the (...) Handbook: an absence of belief in the existence of a God or gods. The utility of such a broad definition, taking atheism to be an ‘umbrella concept’ that admits of a range of subdivisions, is then explored and defended at length. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue, contrary to common assumptions, that rational atheistic prayer is possible. I will formulate and respond to two powerful arguments against the possibility of atheistic prayer: first, an argument that the act of prayer involves an intention to communicate to God, precluding disbelief in God’s existence; second, an argument claiming that reaching out to God through prayer requires believing God might exist, precluding rational disbelief in God. In showing options for response to these arguments, I (...) will describe a model on which atheistic prayer is not only possible, but is on a par with theistic prayer in many more ways than one might expect. (shrink)
While the cognitive science of religion is well-trodden ground, atheism has been considerably less scrutinized. Recent psychological studies associate atheism with an intellectual virtue, inferentiality. Theism, on the other hand, is associated with an intellectual “vice”, intuitive thinking. While atheism is allied with the attendant claim that atheism is the result of careful rational assessment of the relevant evidence, theism is considered the result of a lack of reflection on the relevant evidence. Atheism, then, is (...) rational, but theism, then, is irrational. In this essay, we will assess the import of these studies and the attendant claims that these differences in thinking styles entail differences in rationality. (shrink)