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Atheism: A Reader

Anthony Weber —  February 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

I recently I went to a local bookstore in search of a book that would give me a solid overview of the atheistic worldview. Atheism: A Reader happened to featured prominently. It is handily divided into eight sections that offer a broad range of atheistic objections to Christianity with representations from various eras of history and areas of expertise. I will provide a very brief (and hopefully fair) summary of the sections and essays before offering some comments at the end.

“Some Overviews”

  • Thomas Huxley notes that “The agnostic says, ‘I cannot find good evidence that so and so is true.’”
  • Leslie Stephen basically agrees with the definition, because “there are limits to the sphere of human intelligence.”
  • Emma Goldman writes that since all religions are based in fear and ignorance and developed by people who are not that bright, atheism is a boon to mankind, a “dissolution of the phantoms of the beyond; the light of reason has dispelled the theistic nightmare.”
  • Carl Von Doren agrees that religions give no good reason for anyone to accept any of them.

 “A Refutation of Deism”

  • Percy Shelley claims that “design must be proved before a designer can be inferred.” Since this cannot be shown, positing a Creator is unwarranted.
  • A.J. Ayer rejects the Argument from Design because it could allow for multiple creators, does not require an eternal deity, and needs a creator outside of time, which seems difficult at best.
  • Robert Ingersoll’s refutation of Deism can be summarized in two key questions: Why did God apparently create so many defective things? And why did a good and wise God create so much evil?
  • Bertrand Russell addresses a number of the arguments for God, but he focuses on the link between morality and God. He claims that Christians think they are the only ones who can be moral, then highlights bad Christians throughout history. Continue Reading…

For those who would like to be familiar with the worldviews and messages in the books, films, and TV shows effecting a primarily Young Adult audience, I offer the following excerpts from some of my recent reviews. Keep in mind that my main goal is to look at how the story reflects and shapes  the readers’ worldview. Click on the title links for the full reviews.

#1. Ally Condie’s Matched Trilogy  

“There is a lot to like about this series. Mrs. Condie honors family, tradition, integrity, imagination, creativity, loyalty, bravery, friendship, commitment… It’s quite a list. I do find it interesting, however, that when she writes a story without religion, she also writes a story that is quite bleak. Close to the end of the series, Cassia concludes: ‘But I also know we can’t plan on anyone else rescuing us. We have to do it ourselves. There can be no one Pilot. We have to be strong enough to go without the belief that someone can sweep down and save us.’

It’s all up to us.  We must save ourselves.  That sounds noble, but the story’s conclusion shows the barren hope that humanity has to offer. In the end, the Rising will become the society, much like the rebellion in The Hunger Games.  Sure, Ky and Cassia have each other, but there love is one small candle in an sweeping darkness.  It may warm their hearts, but not the world.” Continue Reading…