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Critiques of God: Making the Case Against Belief in God Paperback – March 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Peter Angeles sets out to assemble an anthology--"of value to undergraduate philosophy classes as well as to the general public" --that presents the case against God. For both audiences, the decision to concentrate on authors "of known stature" was a wise one, because of the ease with which less well known writers could be dismissed by popular audiences (including audiences of undergraduates). The list of authors is a veritable who's who of twentieth-century philosophy, and the selections (as Angeles promises in the preface) are not snippets. Readers who work their way through the 17 selections in the anthology will get a substantial sampling of both the style and the substance of philosophical argument as practiced by a range of thinkers. One quirk of the collection is its concentration on material from 1950 to 1970 (13 of the 17 selections). This does not lessen its value as an anthology, but it may spur some readers to look closely at the context those decades provided for philosophical reflection on God's existence. Steve Schroeder

Review

Is a God concept really necessary for humans to enjoy a sense of significance and a life of value and dedication? Does human kind really live in a purposeful universe with a divine creator, upon which we can rely to reshape things to come? These questions and many others have been pondered for centuries by the great minds in their day. This noted collection of essays rejects the view that moral values and human purpose require divine sanction.
Critiques Of God is the only collection of writings to present, in a comprehensive way, the case against belief in God. The arguments for God's existence, the validity of mystical experience, and the importance of the God concept for the development of morality and meaning in life are critically evaluated by sixteen well-known philosophers and psychologists. Included are works by Kurt Baier, John Dewey, Paul Edwards, Antony Flew, Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, Sidney Hook, Walter Kaufmann, Corliss Lamont, Wallace I. Matson, H. J. McCloskey, Ernest Nagel, Kai Nielsen, Richard Robinson, Bertrand Russell, and Michael Scriven.
In no other volume are the most fundamental questions of religion explored with such force and conviction. Included are discussions of the meaning of the existence of God, the relationships between faith and mysticism, reason and science, fate, the problem of evil, ethics without God, and immortality.
Peter A. Angeles is retired from the Philosophy Department at Santa Barbara City College (California). He is the author of The Problem Of God: A Short Introduction. -- Midwest Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573921238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573921237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of anti-religion essays by such philosophers as Bertrand Russell, Walter Kaufmann and Wallace Matson. It is a good series of commentaries which elucidate why philosophical atheists believe as they do. (When I say philosophical atheists, I am referring to people who actually have justification for their views - there are many plenty of people on both sides of the issue who do not). The book covers a myriad of traditional "proofs" of His existence as well as the problem of evil, the possiblity of the afterlife, etc. Most of the essays are of high quality. However, Matson's critique of the argument from design is a bit out of date & the essay on the First Cause argument is bereft of discoveries in 20th century science (this is an important omission as the First Cause argument is being fought on the battlefield of cosmology these days as opposed to being confined to philosophy). For a contemporary book on the argument from design I would suggest "Universes" by the philosopher of science John Leslie. For a much better (and also balanced) book on the First Cause argument I would recommend "Atheism, Theism and Big Bang Cosmology" by William Craig Lane and Quentin Smith. It does a far superior job of engaging the topic than the essay in this book.
Some of the essays also ignore trenchant counter-arguments from theists which would make their case much more difficult to defend. Also, the essay by Freud has largely been abandoned - even by atheists due to the fact that psychoanalysis is an un-falsifiable doctrine & therefore has precious little worth. As a matter of fact, since Freud wrote his comments there have been theistic psychologists who have tried to psychoanalyze atheists for NOT believing in God.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on August 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
On the whole, this is a good representative collection of arguments against belief in God (the Christian variety). None are cutting edge, however several can lay claim to places in the modern canon, (Baier's, Flew's, Nielsen's). The editor is an acolyte of Thomas Nagel and as such the volume presents not only the case against God, but a stout defense of scientific method as an explanation of why things are the way they are.There's nothing wrong with this, except that unwary readers should not risk confusing the two. Moreover, the collection concentrates exclusively on arguments against the truth of God's existence. Some of the more interesting recent critiques, however, examine not the truth of the God concept, but whether the concept even makes sense or not. Happily, readers do not need a graduate philosophy degree to benefit from these articles. Most are accessible to any person of thoughtful, literate background. Their refutation, however, will require more than a simple profession of faith or creedal belief, so be prepared to engage intellectually in well-reasoned arguments, and the possibility that atheists too may lead happy, fulfilled lives.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jlowder@infidels.org on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_Critiques of God_ is a hard-hitting, comprehensive anthology of essays by leading atheist philosophers. My only complaint is that Prometheus Books should have updated this book to reflect recent developments in the philosophy of religion since the book's original publication in 1976 (e.g., the kalam cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, the evidential argument from evil, etc.).
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on March 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
this book was pretty good. it covers a lot of ground, and many of the finest philosophers of the past couple hundred years give some decent arguments contra the existence of God.
but the price of the book may be a bit much. i say that because there has been such a great resurgence in theistic arguments within the philosophy of religion over the past few years; hence this book is almost outdated. but philosophers of religion, no matter how far they have brought the argument, always return to the classical arguments, and herein you will find those classics articulated with rational vigor. in sum, its a fine addition to the philosophy of religion library.
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