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50 Great Myths About Atheism

Russell Blackford (Original Author), Udo Schuklenk (Original Author)
ISBN: 978-0-470-67404-8
288 pages
October 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
50 Great Myths About Atheism (0470674040) cover image

Description

Tackling a host of myths and prejudices commonly leveled at atheism, this captivating volume bursts with sparkling, eloquent arguments on every page. The authors rebut claims that range from atheism being just another religion to the alleged atrocities committed in its name.

  • An accessible yet scholarly commentary on hot-button issues in the debate over religious belief
  • Teaches critical thinking skills through detailed, rational argument
  • Objectively considers each myth on its merits
  • Includes a history of atheism and its advocates, an appendix detailing atheist organizations, and an extensive bibliography
  • Explains the differences between atheism and related concepts such as agnosticism and naturalism
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

What is Atheism? 2

Why Bother About Myths? 4

Drawing the Lines 5

Do These Myths Actually Exist? 6

How Did We Decide What Myths are Worth Investigating? 6

Are We Picking Easy Targets? 7

Have We Defeated Theism? 7

1 What is Atheism? 9

Myth 1 Atheism is Just Another Type of Religion 9

Myth 2 But the Courts Recognize Atheism as a Religion 12

Myth 3 Atheists Believe in God but are in Denial 14

Myth 4 Atheists are Certain There is No God 18

Myth 5 Atheists Hate or are Angry with God 21

Myth 6 Atheism is a Rebellion Against God’s Authority 24

Myth 7 Atheists See No Good in Religion 27

Myth 8 No Atheist Believes in Anything Supernatural 28

Myth 9 It Makes No Sense for an Atheist to Practice Any Kind of Religion 29

Myth 10 Atheists Worship False Gods (Satan, Money, Materialism, etc.) 31

2 Atheist Living 34

Myth 11 Atheism Robs Life of Meaning and Purpose 34

Myth 12 Atheism is Depressing 40

Myth 13 Atheists Have No Sense of Humor 42

Myth 14 Atheists Don’t Appreciate Some of the Greatest Works of Art 45

Myth 15 There is no Christmas in Atheist Families 47

Myth 16 Atheists Don’t Appreciate the Beauty and Perfection of God’s Creation 49

Myth 17 Atheists Fear Death (More than Others) 51

Myth 18 Atheists Turn to God When Death is Near 54

Myth 19 There are no Atheists in Foxholes 56

3 Atheism, Ethics, and the Soul 59

Myth 20 Without God There is No Morality 59

Myth 21 Atheists are Moral Relativists 66

Myth 22 Atheists Don’t Give to Charity 70

Myth 23 Atheists Deny the Sanctity of Human Life 74

Myth 24 If There is No God We are Soulless Creatures 76

4 Name Calling 79

Myth 25 Atheists are all Communists, Left-Wing, Liberal. . . 79

Myth 26 Atheists Can’t be Trusted 83

Myth 27 Many Atrocities Have Been Committed in the Name of Atheism 85

Myth 28 Adolf Hitler was an Atheist 90

Myth 29 Atheists Give a Free Pass to Non-Christian Religions 95

5 Horrible, Strident Atheists 99

Myth 30 Atheists are Arrogant 99

Myth 31 Atheists are Intolerant 103

Myth 32 Atheists Want to Ban Teaching Religion to Children 107

Myth 33 Atheists Want to Strip People of their Beliefs 110

Myth 34 Atheists Want to Ban Religion from the Public Square 111

Myth 35 Atheists Don’t Understand Moderate Religion 114

Myth 36 We Should Fear a ‘‘Fundamentalist’’ or ‘‘Militant’’ Atheism 119

Myth 37 Atheists are to Blame for Religious Fundamentalism 125

6 Faith and Reason 131

Myth 38 Atheists Don’t Understand the Nature of Faith 131

Myth 39 Atheism Depends on Faith, Just the Same as Religion 138

Myth 40 Atheism is Self-refuting, as Rational Argument Presumes the Existence of God 142

7 Religion and Science 146

Myth 41 There is No Conflict Between Religion and Science 146

Myth 42 Atheists Confuse Two Forms of Naturalism 149

Myth 43 Atheism Implies Scientism 153

Myth 44 Evolutionary Theory is a Form of Atheistic Religion 157

Myth 45 Albert Einstein Professed a Belief in God 160

Myth 46 Atheists Can’t Explain Miracles 164

Myth 47 Atheists Can’t Explain the Resurrection 171

8 No Future for Atheism? 176

Myth 48 Atheism is a Bad Bet (Pascal’s Wager) 176

Myth 49 Atheism is Only for an Educated Elite 180

Myth 50 Atheism is Doomed in a Postsecular Age 182

9 The Rise of Modern Atheism 187

A Very Short History of Atheism 187

Beginning Atheism 189

How Did We Become Secular? 192

Classic Theistic Arguments 197

Religion and Science – Conflicting or Compatible? 209

Conclusion – the Reasonableness of Atheism 234

International Atheist and Related Organizations 236

References 242

Index 261

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Author Information

Russell Blackford is Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia. A renowned philosopher, literary critic, author and commentator on a range of topics including legal and political philosophy, philosophy of religion, meta-ethics, and philosophical bioethics, he is a prolific essayist and author whose works include Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Dr Blackford is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Evolution and Technology.

Udo Schüklenk is Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University, Canada, where he holds the Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics. A renowned bioethicist, he is joint editor-in-chief of the international journals Bioethics and Developing World Bioethics. A prolific author and editor, he has produced 7 books and published more than 130 articles in international journals and anthologies, mostly on public health ethics, research ethics and end-of-life issues. He recently chaired an international expert panel drafting a landmark report on end-of-life care on behalf of the Royal Society of Canada.

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Reviews

“Overall, Blackford and Schu¨ klenk’s work is a valuable contribution to the debate between believers and non-believers.”  (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 1 August 2014)

Review appeared in Times Higher Education - 2 January 2014

"I am happy to report that Blackford and Schüklenk’s collaboration has given us an intellectually rigorous yet compositionally relaxed book. It is clearly written, clear-headed, and amusing on occasion (especially with the inclusion of comics from the Jesus & Mo website). It is simply organized, as the title indicates, with the authors taking on the 50 Myths one by one." (Neworld Review, Vol 6. No. 46)

“I recommend it as useful reading both to those who are freethinkers (whatever they call themselves, be it atheists, agnostics or secularists) and to "believers", particularly the hard-core religious ones, though it might prove "heavy-going" for them at times, and they are unlikely to be able to suspend belief and permit scepticism to intrude into their "blind faith".”  (New Nurturing Potential, 1 September 2013)

 

“It has been my lot to have encountered all but three of the 50 Great Myths about Atheism listed by Blackford and Schüklenk, most of them many times. It is useful to have them all listed in one book – and so readably and authoritatively refuted. The long final chapter treats theological arguments with more respect than I would have bothered with, but the refutation is all the more convincing for that. The whole book builds inexorably to its conclusion: the Reasonableness of Atheism.”

—Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

“With humor, wisdom and sound philosophy, Blackford and Schüklenk dismantle 50 important myths about atheism.  In doing so, they have done atheists and religious believers a great service, for putting aside the myths enables us to see where real differences remain.”

—Peter Singer, Princeton University

"Atheists are routinely called ‘aggressive,’ but their strong values include a tolerance rarely shown them by the religious. This book's calm ripostes defend atheists everywhere against unreasoned assaults from the dwindling faithful. " 

—Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

“Busted! Fifty times over! So say Blackford and Schüklenk — the New Mythbusters—with reason, conviction and style. I enjoyed this book immensely.”

—Graham Oppy, Monash University

“A brilliantly wide-ranging exploration of misconceptions about atheism and their relationship to our ideas about minds, human nature, morality – for pretty much everything we care about.”

—Ophelia Benson, co-author of Does God Hate Women?

“This is a book that’s as enjoyable to read as it is informative. Sharp, clever, and witty, it systematically dismantles misconceptions about atheism. Even God could learn something from it!”

—Ronald A. Lindsay, President, Center for Inquiry

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