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Natural Atheism Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"The most important new title from American Atheist Press since the death of Madalyn Murray O'Hair/" -- Frank R. Zindler, American Atheist, Summer, 2004

About the Author

DAVID ELLER was born an Atheist and has never found any reason to think otherwise. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology and has conducted fieldwork among Australian Aboriginals. He has studied all of the major world religions and dozens of other traditional and tribal religions. He has concluded that an Atheist is not someone who knows too little about religion but someone who knows too much. His book "From Culture to Ethnicity to Conflict" deals with the problem of international ethnic conflict. Other books by Eller include "Culture and the Real World" and "Violence and Culture." He is a regular contributor to major freethought as well as scientific journals. He teaches Cultural Anthropology in Denver, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and three cats.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: American Atheist Press (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578849209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578849208
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

323 of 341 people found the following review helpful By David Mills on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
This past week, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail. A friend of mine was excited and impressed by a new book he'd read. He overnighted me his copy. When I opened the package, I saw David Eller's "Natural Atheism." Looking at the cover, it was the most attractive and beautifully printed book on atheism I'd ever seen. In this case, you CAN judge a book by its cover.

I was familiar with David Eller's esteemed reputation in the atheist community, but I had never read a book by Dr. Eller (which is a sad comment on me, rather than Dr. Eller). This is unquestionably one of the finest books on atheism ever published. If you think this is an overstatement, then you have not yet read the book. Thankfully, there is no dishonest attempt in this book to reconcile religion and science, nor to water down the atheist message into agnosticism or secular humanism. The writing is clear, on-the-mark, and no-nonsense. If you are a person whose mind is at all receptive to reason, then you will benefit from -- and enjoy! -- reading this free-thought title. Your ability to combat creationism will be greatly empowered.

Dr. Eller succinctly summarizes all the traditional arguments for and against God's existence. But, more importantly, he actually introduces a wealth of original material. Many books on atheism (and religion) merely rehash the same old arguments again and again. "Natural Atheism," while discussing all the traditional issues, provides a much needed fresh and updated perspective. My only complaint is that, as the author of a title on atheism myself, Dr. Eller's book will no doubt prove to be tough competition!

Nonetheless, I congratulate Dr. Eller for his exceptional volume, which will certainly become a popular seller when word of its publication becomes widely known.
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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By M. Mazza on April 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to being a contribution to clear and unpretentious explanations on the premises of atheism, this book succeeds in identifying several pitfalls created by faulty argumentation. Eller makes a remarkable distinction between the basis of a "belief," which is neither "true or false" since it is beyond the scope of reason, and a contention presented as fact which requires evidence that can be observed or tested.

In one of my favorite examples, Eller responds in this way when asked if he "believes" in evolution: he states that he doesn't "believe" in evolution but rather "accepts" evolution as the best explanation we have so far based on available evidence; if something more convincing comes along, he is ready to part with his previous views. Would theists be as willing to part with their views in light of hostile new evidence? This is one of many instances where Eller demonstrates his care in avoiding any games associated with "belief." People can hide behind "beliefs" and justify them unfairly, either by using feelings and/ or personal experiences or reason itself--until, of course, reason fails to support their claims. That is, when convenient, logic and reason are allies to the believer. When not, it is time to hide behind the myriad of gods, spiritual experiences, etc.

Eller maintains an open mind and recommends rigorous questioning and skepticism as a way of avoiding hasty conslusions and assumptions. Much explanation is given, and the reader should come away with a lucid understanding of the importance of the "burden of proof." If we are to accept everything at face value without question, we would resort to considering any claim--regardless of how ludicrous--as serious.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Matt Young on November 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
To David Eller, an atheist is someone who does not believe in any God, as opposed to someone who affirmatively denies the existence of God. People, according to Eller, are not born believing in God; they have to be converted. In Eller's terminology, we are all natural atheists, hence the title of this worthwhile and well reasoned book.

Eller's intention is to convert you back to your natural atheism. He even offers a twelve-step program; it won't work, of course, but neither do any other twelve-step programs, as far as we can tell.

The book runs the gamut from reasoning and philosophy to science and religion, toleration, separation of church and state, and (although he doesn't call it that) epistemology. Many of the subjects are at least vaguely familiar to me, yet I found Eller's treatments refreshing and worthwhile.

The book is a wonderful combination of reasoned argument and cogent one-liners. You'll have to read the reasoned arguments for yourselves, and I recommend you do so, but here, paraphrased, are some of the insightful one-liners. To the charge that atheism is a religion, Eller responds that atheism is no more a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby. To monotheists, Eller (an anthropologist) observes that countless cultures believed in countless gods, and monotheists disbelieve in all but one. Atheists thus disbelieve in only one god fewer than monotheists. Finally, religion has no methodology and cannot solve problems: physics debunked phlogiston, but the Protestant Reformation could only replace one paradigm with a welter of conflicting paradigms.

Two criticisms: Eller's inconsistent use of "god(s)" for "God" drove me crazy. More importantly, the book has no index; unlike a fish without a bicycle, a nonfiction book without an index is considerably less useful than the same book with an index.

Such carping aside, it is a splendid book, and I highly recommend it.
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