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Book Review: Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy by David Ramsay Steele

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I am an atheist, and this subject is always touchy because, invariably, someone will be offended. I am setting out to review a book here, and I do not intend to get into a theological debate. I am generally of the belief that 99% of the population are firm in their beliefs in a higher power, religion, afterlife – or lack thereof. Those who do change their belief system generally do so through a combination of major life experiences and influential people. A book on atheism or Catholicism will not cause one to flip-flop their beliefs. I have always felt that books on atheism are a little unnecessary. Let’s be honest: there’s not a whole lot to atheism. Do you believe in the existence of a god? No? Hey, look, you’re an atheist.

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy by David Ramsay Steele offers a case for atheism. I feel that atheism can be defended easily through basic logic. For those that feel that they need a little back-up, Atheism Explained is a good handbook. It is basically a collection of theistic arguments for the existence of a god, and different arguments you can use to defend atheism.

For example, Steele presents the Ontological Argument, which tries to use logic to prove a god exists. The basic premise of this argument is: “Nothing greater than god can possibly be thought of. A god who exists is greater than a god who does not exist. Therefore, god exists.” Of course, the term “greater” is subjective. Even if you believe in a god, but you also believe in the Big Bang Theory, you may believe that the Big Bang is greater than a god. So didn’t you just disprove your logic?

Steele also offers arguments against The Bible being the word of god with such arguments as: If The Bible comes word-for-word from a higher being, why would he not make any reference to irrefutable scientific fact that even those most devout cannot deny, like the way in which disease is spread, or the body’s circulatory system?

Atheism Explained is a good primer for atheists who want to bring a gun to a knife fight, but most of the arguments are pretty obvious.

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About Alyse

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    I’m not an atheist. I’m not offended by anything in your review.
    People I’m close to are atheists and I found Hitchen’s book, “God Is Not Great” to be a helpful resource in understanding how/why they are atheists.
    You feel this book is just for atheists.
    Should I bother reading it?

  • http://www.sporkfashion.com Alyse

    @FCEtier – absolutely not. It is definitely a more accessible book than say something by Richard Dawkins. I suppose that my limited contact with devout (or even practicing) religious people has colored my views. The few observantly religious people I know do so blindly, for the most part. The “in betweens” are those who don’t practice a religion, don’t speak of religion, and it does not focus in any portion of their lives; however if hard pressed they would probably say that they believe in a god.

  • brandon

    i believe athiest are just screwed people! they are retards who chose to be mad at the world for stupid things.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Kind of one-sided point of view, which I suppose reinforces your conviction that you’re more intelligent than they are.

  • Alexandria Jackson

    That was spoken like someone with a closed mind and one who does not keep up with the current language. We don’t use “retards” any longer, we use intellectually disabled. And, you might be interested to learn that atheists tend to have higher IQs by recent studies. Therefore, your argument is not sound. The last part of your comment makes no sense. It seems to me that people get mad at “God” a lot when they feel their prayers are unanswered. The atheists I know understand that things just happen in this universe and they tend to be more pragmatic. But just so you know, it is “christians” like you, who judge and judge and judge others, who caused me to rethink the indoctrination I received as a child. I am much happier and more content NOT believing in the Man Upstairs. And, conversely, I believe your comment speaks to how troubled you are.

  • Alexandria Jackson

    Comment #5 was To Brandon

    and, I liked the article. Very neutral.