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Written in the tradition of the vastly popular Prometheus title Atheism: The Case Against God and The Atheist Debater's Handbook, this accessible and inviting primer of nonbelief ponders eight of the most-asked questions about atheism.What is atheism? How can atheists have morals? How can atheists have purpose in their lives? Doesn't the Bible show that god exists? Do reports of miracles prove the existence of a god? Aren't there philosophical proofs demonstrating that god exists? Wouldn't a person have to know everything to say that god doesn't exist? What's wrong with believing on faith? These are the concerns that arise when believers and those who are simply curious question the purpose and meaning they suspect is lacking in the lives of nonbelievers. These questions also come up in philosophical and theological debates on the assumptions and merits of both belief and nonbelief. Krueger contends that atheism is a powerful alternative to the religious outlook so prevalent today, yet it is also one of the most misunderstood because people harbor preconceived ideas about atheism. This concise introduction to atheism, from a scholar who has led thousands of students to the enlightenment of freethought, has been designed with the general audience in mind.
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This is an accessible and accurate introduction to atheism.
As an atheist who has spent many hours explaining and defending atheism, I am often asked to recommend a book on the subject, but I had a hard time finding a work at the introductory level that covered all the issues that believers want to address. So I wrote one myself. The first chapter is brief and to the point. I clear up a few misconceptions about atheism and define an atheist as one who asserts that there are no gods. In the second chapter, "How Can Atheists Have Morals?" I tackle two issues. I first critique theistic morality and show that in both theory and practice morality based on divine commands and/or the bible is untenable. I then give several examples of robust ethical theories that do not require god as a foundation. I use a similar approach in the next chapter about purpose in one's life. I first show that theories about the purpose of life from the theistic perspective are problematic, and in the latter half of the chapter I present a humanistic view that shows that atheists can have meaningful lives. I also give examples of atheists who have led creative and purposeful lives. The fourth chapter regarding the use of the bible as evidence for god's existence presents the standard, noncontroversial view of the bible that serves as the common point of departure for high-level, contemporary biblical scholarship. Many believers will be astounded at the tremendous gulf between what scholars know about the bible and what the average churchgoer believes. The chapter about miracles explains some of the many problems involved with the use of reports of miracles to show the existence of god, not the least of which is the lack of evidence for such claims. The sixth and seventh chapters explore arguments for and against the existence of god, respectively. For the theistic side there is the argument from design and the cosmological argument, and for the atheistic side I discuss the presumption of atheism argument, the argument from the incoherence of the concept of god, the a! rgument from evil, and the argument from nonbelief. The chapter on faith includes an examination of the dangers, and the immorality, of believing on faith and the failure of Pascal's wager. The book ends with suggested readings and a list of helpful organizations and Internet sites. Believers will be surprised and challenged, nonbelievers delighted. My book is concise and clear throughout, and I've tried to answer the questions believers most often ask of atheists--and I address a few other issues too. Get this book if you want the real information, not the misinformation, about what it means to be an atheist.
Douglas E. Krueger(Fayetteville, AR) is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Arkansas.
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