The Atheist’s Primer
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551119625 / 1551119625
  • 276 pages; 9" x 6"
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The Atheist’s Primer

  • Publication Date: April 6, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551119625 / 1551119625
  • 276 pages; 9" x 6"

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.

Comments

“This book is excellent. Well-written, masterfully concise, easy to follow, and correct in nearly every detail, with an occasional hint of intellectual humor on almost every page. Well-sourced, with helpful notes and up-to-date citations of scholarship, Murray takes on not just conservative theism, but knocks down all the leading props of liberal theism, too. Though not attempting to be comprehensive, Murray nails the core basics, making it the ideal place to start for anyone considering the God question. Theists will be deeply troubled by it. Atheists will find in it new arguments, and new ways to phrase old ones. And for anyone on the fence, it’s a must-read.” — Dr. Richard Carrier, author of Sense and Goodness without God

Acknowledgements
Preface

PART 1. PRELIMINARIES

Chapter 1: Why Not Agnosticism?

  • Proving Non-Existence
    The Burden of Proof
    Fallibilism
    The Common Sense View
    Is Atheism Itself a Metaphysical Belief?
    Summary

Chapter 2: Which God Are You Denying?

  • Kidneys and Hearts
    What Is God?
    Magenta and Pink
    Tolerable Misdescriptions
    Life Force
    The Argument from Experience
    Our Natural Being
    The Point

Chapter 3: Religion without God?

  • Religious Atheism
    Spirit
    The Backdoor God
    Conclusion

Chapter 4: Metaphor and Sacred Texts

  • Inconsistencies
    Improbabilities
    Ignored Dictums
    Partial Literalism
    Metaphorical Reading
    Ricœur and Company

PART II. “PROOFS”

Chapter 5: Ontologic Illogic

  • A Priori and A Posteriori Arguments
    The Ontological Argument
    Null Sets and Hypotheticals
    Barretteless and Imaginary Dolls
    Necessary Existence
    Summary

Chapter 6: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

  • The Cosmological Argument
    Inconsistency
    Infinity
    The Kala‾m Argument
    Necessary Beings
    Best Explanation
    Conclusion

Chapter 7: Design or Evolution?

  • The Design Argument
    The Appeal
    The Evolutionary Account
    Chance and Fruit Flies
    Intelligent Design?

Chapter 8: Fine Tuning and Analogy

  • The Design Argument (Again)
    Fine Tuning and Biogenesis
    Analogical Argument Structure
    Watches and Astrolabes
    Summary

Chapter 9: The Moral Argument

  • Aquinas’s Version
    Kant’s Version
    Summary

PART III: ATTRIBUTES

Chapter 10: The Problem of Suffering

  • Inscrutability
    Free Will
    Eschatological Recompense
    Moral Fortitude
    Summary

Chapter 11: Omnipotence

  • The Paradox of the Stone
    No Impossible Powers
    Two Impossible Acts Are Easier Than One
    Mortal Comprehension

Chapter 12: Omniscience and Free Will

  • The Basic Problem
    Weakening Knowledge
    Out of Time
    Different Necessities
    Other Worlds
    Summary

Chapter 13: Time and Immutability

  • Problems with Immutability
    Anthropomorphizing
    Time Revisited
    Summary

Chapter 14: Is God Love?

  • Different Kinds of Love

PART IV. FAITH

Chapter 15: Faith and Reason

  • God Is Special
    Secular Faiths
    Conclusion

Chapter 16: Fideism

  • Kierkegaardian Fideism
    Wittgensteinian Fideism

Chapter 17: Ultimate Concern

  • Ontological, Not Cosmological
    Three Ambiguities
    The Problem

Chapter 18: Po-Mo Theo

  • A Monkey in a Box?
    Summary

Chapter 19: Pascal’s Wager

  • Two Problems
    Defending Pascal

Chapter 20: Non-Falsifiability

  • Flew’s Garden
    Not Logical Positivism
    Falsification and Verification
    Objections
    Replies
    Summary

PART V. IMPLICATIONS

Chapter 21: Mysticism

  • Common Components
    Content
    Method
    Self-Confirming
    Judging by the Effects
    Conclusion

Chapter 22: God and Morality

  • Moral Principles
    The Euthyphro Argument
    Innate Morality?
    Sin and Moral Intuition
    Strategic Interaction
    Conclusion

Chapter 23: The Meaning of Life

  • The Problem of Nihilism
    Reductio Ad Absurdum
    The Argument from Consistency
    The Non Sequitur
    Death
    Rephrasing the Question

Chapter 24: Death

  • Platonic Arguments
    Ghosts in the Machine
    Brain Damage
    Near-Death Experiences
    The Identity Argument
    Summary

Chapter 25: Error Theory

  • Religion’s Success
    Psychological and Sociological Accounts
    The Evolution of Belief
    Conclusion?

Notes
Bibliography
Author Index

Malcolm Murray is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Prince Edward Island. His previous publications include The Moral Wager: Evolution and Contract (Springer, 2007).