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Atheism: A Philosophical Justification Paperback – January 8, 1992
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—Martin Gardner, The Humanist
"A tour-de-force for the mind.... This is a book to be read several times and savored while being slowly digested.... If one follows Martin's reasoning throughout this book, one will have gone through the most thorough and vigorous examination of the logical arguments surrounding atheism and theism that has ever been offered."
—Gordon Stein, American Rationalist
"[This book] has the impact of a runaway train. It is certainly the best philosophical justification of atheism that I have ever read.... Even readers with little philosophical background will find themselves richly repaid."
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First, Martin creates unnecessary problems for himself by trying to argue BOTH that theism is meaningless AND that if theism were meaningful, it is false. I am very familiar with Martin's Internet essay, "Positive Atheism and the Meaninglessness of Theism," where he explains that his defense of both negative and positive atheism is a "fall-back" position. However, Martin's defense of the claim, "theism is factually meaningfulness," is unconvincing. (Even most nontheists believe that theism is meaningful!) Moreover, Martin's "fall-back" strategy is a poor one. By writing such a huge discussion of arguments for and against the existence of God, it sure *appears* that Martin can think of ways in which the existence of God might be confirmed or disconfirmed. In other words, despite the fact that Martin was using a "fall-back" strategy, by the very nature of the issue Martin's fall-back strategy undermines his claim that theism is factually meaningfulness.
Second, given that his book was first published 10 years ago, it is now starting to become dated. Martin's book lacks a discussion of several new evidential arguments for atheism developed and defended since 1991. John Schellenberg has defended the highly influential atheological argument from divine hiddenness. (Indeed, this argument is so powerful that even Christian philosophers are taking it seriously: witness the forthcoming publication of Howard-Snyder's and Moser's anthology on divine hiddenness.Read more ›
Martin, a professor of philosophy at Boston University, destroys numerous modern incarnations of common theist arguments, including William Lane Craig's twist on the Kalam cosmological argument. The one draw back to this book is that it might make for rough reading for those who are not familiar with the symbolization and syntax of sentential logic. Such readers may have a tough time with Martin's arguments which, at times, resemble mathematical equations.
Martin does a great job in defining the various ideas surrounding atheism and the problems with theism. All the classic theistic proofs, in various and modern form, of the existance of God gets a good pounding. Martin deals with both so called negative atheism (the mere lack of belief in gods(s) and positive atheism (the disbelief in God and then mainly the omnipotent,omniscient and omnibenevolent construction apparent in say, christianity.
I would recommend to read Atheism: the case against God by George Smith if you are not into philosophy a lot instead of this book. This one goes so much further and is therefor at a much higher level
The problem with his "justification," as many readers have alluded to, is that Martin's arguments often fail to be compelling and rarely achieve the goals that he desires of them. One gets the impression while reading his book that the author himself became tired with the scope of his project and descended into quick refusals of positions without carefully examining the positions of his opponents. The principle of charity is, in some places, completely absent from this text, leading the uninformed reader to believe that the only intellectuals defending theism are half-wits who have no idea what they are talking about. After seeking out many of the arguments that Martin attacks, one finds that he has often misrepresented their views and fails to meet them at full-strength, choosing instead to argue against straw-men.
I keep this book on the shelf as a reference guide, because it provides a rough-and-ready resource to glance through whenever you need to quickly catch up on an argument. But I think most readers would be better off with a balanced anthology, or at least a mixture of both sides' responses to each other.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I was 20, maybe 21, I read Atheism: A Philosophical Justification while in college. This was around the same time I read George Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God, Non... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Adam Appleby
Simply the most staggeringly powerful philosophical book refuting various Christian arguments for God I have ever read. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Kerry Shirts
Michael L. Martin (born 1932) is professor emeritus at Boston University, and sits on the editorial board of the philosophy journal, Philo. Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by Steven H Propp
Michael Martin's Atheism is one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive cases for atheism out there. Read morePublished on January 2, 2012 by Nolan
Professional philosopher Michael Martin consistently and rigorously defended atheism long before the advent of the comparatively shallow New Atheists (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens,... Read morePublished on June 29, 2008 by Kerry Walters
Published in 1990 Michael Martin's `Atheism a Philosophical Justification', surveys philosophical arguments in support of an atheistic worldview. Read morePublished on April 30, 2006 by Reader From Aurora
This is a thoughtful study of arguments for and against the existence of a monotheist deity. Of course, the title does bother me slightly, given that I regard Christianity,... Read morePublished on January 31, 2005 by Jill Malter
If your an atheist this book is for you and if you have second thoughts about god this will get you over the hump. Read morePublished on January 18, 2005 by Carl
It takes a long time to read and digest this one. Martin aproaches and interprets atheism from a unique angle with mathematical formulas, mixed with traditional arguments. Read morePublished on March 20, 2004