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50 Great Myths About Atheism 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470674055
ISBN-10: 0470674059
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Editorial Reviews


“Overall, Blackford and Schu¨ klenk’s work is a valuable contribution to the debate between believers and non-believers.”  (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 1 August 2014)

Review appeared in Times Higher Education - 2 January 2014

“I recommend it as useful reading both to those who are freethinkers (whatever they call themselves, be it atheists, agnostics or secularists) and to "believers", particularly the hard-core religious ones, though it might prove "heavy-going" for them at times, and they are unlikely to be able to suspend belief and permit scepticism to intrude into their "blind faith".”  (New Nurturing Potential, 1 September 2013)

"I am happy to report that Blackford and Schüklenk’s collaboration has given us an intellectually rigorous yet compositionally relaxed book. It is clearly written, clear-headed, and amusing on occasion (especially with the inclusion of comics from the Jesus & Mo website). It is simply organized, as the title indicates, with the authors taking on the 50 Myths one by one." (Neworld Review, Vol 6. No. 46)


“It has been my lot to have encountered all but three of the 50 Great Myths about Atheism listed by Blackford and Schüklenk, most of them many times. It is useful to have them all listed in one book – and so readably and authoritatively refuted. The long final chapter treats theological arguments with more respect than I would have bothered with, but the refutation is all the more convincing for that. The whole book builds inexorably to its conclusion: the Reasonableness of Atheism.”

—Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

“With humor, wisdom and sound philosophy, Blackford and Schüklenk dismantle 50 important myths about atheism.  In doing so, they have done atheists and religious believers a great service, for putting aside the myths enables us to see where real differences remain.”

—Peter Singer, Princeton University

"Atheists are routinely called ‘aggressive,’ but their strong values include a tolerance rarely shown them by the religious. This book's calm ripostes defend atheists everywhere against unreasoned assaults from the dwindling faithful. " 

—Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

“Busted! Fifty times over! So say Blackford and Schüklenk — the New Mythbusters—with reason, conviction and style. I enjoyed this book immensely.”

—Graham Oppy, Monash University

“A brilliantly wide-ranging exploration of misconceptions about atheism and their relationship to our ideas about minds, human nature, morality – for pretty much everything we care about.”

—Ophelia Benson, co-author of Does God Hate Women?

“This is a book that’s as enjoyable to read as it is informative. Sharp, clever, and witty, it systematically dismantles misconceptions about atheism. Even God could learn something from it!”

—Ronald A. Lindsay, President, Center for Inquiry


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470674059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470674055
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on November 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have found that even among the very best Christian apologists there is a woeful, and perhaps even culpable ignorance about atheism. This is remedied by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk's excellent book, "50 Great Myths About Atheism."

The first thing I noticed about this book was that Richard Dawkins has thankfully changed his mind about recommending books like this one, in which religious beliefs are treated with respect.

The second thing I noticed was the title itself. The authors had edited a previous book titled, "50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists" which is a great book. Guy P. Harrison has written three books of 50 reasons, beliefs and questions himself. Why 50? I don't know but authors and editors like to publish follow-up books with similar titles. It can become their signature book titles, unique titles assigned to them alone. I am doing likewise with some of my book titles. My anthologies are being titled after the books of the so-called New Atheists. There is something pretty cool about doing this, although I have been criticized for not being original with mine.

In the Introduction to their book the authors tell us why it's needed, how they chose the myths to be dealt with, and what they hope to accomplish.

The book is needed, as they say, because "a falsehood repeated often enough will eventually be taken as truth. This is, of course, likely to be true if those who propagate such falsehoods also control large segments of the mass media" (p. 1). Because these myths are so prevalent they have "had outright harmful consequences for people known to be or believed to be atheists" (p. 4).
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I spent a little time mulling over whether this should be a four- or a five-star review. In truth, I'd have liked to award a 4.5 star rating, because the book is perhaps slightly too ambitious, with the authors setting a standard that was always going to be difficult to full satisfy. The main concern I have can perhaps be summarized in saying that it's sometimes unclear who the audience of the book is intended to be, and the tone and content of various chapters ends up seeming slightly inconsistent as a result. Sometimes one gets the impression that the book is "arming" atheists against the caricatures of theists, and at other times, that theists are being addressed in an attempt to dispel their confusions. This gives rise to an unevenness in the level of detail, and also the tone, of various chapters.

As for the reasons why I'd want to award at least 4, and ideally 4.5 stars, the book is enormously instructive. For the patient reader, the level of detail in many of the chapters is superb, and even for "myths" that you're already very familiar with, you'll often find a citation or example you didn't yet know about. The book begins by asking you to consider what are quite tricky questions, even before proceeding with discussing the myths - namely in discussions of who "counts" as an atheist, and what should count as myths. In my view, this could be described as one of the more challenging elements of the book to write, in that there are all sorts of opportunities for readers to take issue even at that early stage, rejecting the authors' definitions, and choosing to adopt an uncharitable attitude to the rest of the book as a result.
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This book is just plain fun. It is very well arranged and the information is enjoyable and professional to read. If you consider yourself to be a philosophical naturalist or anything near that category, you will enjoy reading this both for its information, logic and sanity.
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This book was written by two philosophers and it deals with 50 claims they believe are myths. Most of the myths are discussed in 1-3 pages so each myth only gets a very limited treatment. This books does carry a bit of mixed ideas that do not always flow well. For instance the way they talk about atheists and atheism is not always consistent. In some places they say atheists do not believe gods or the supernatural and are secular and in other sections they contradict this by saying that atheists simply lack belief in god and everything else is optional including religion and the supernatural. In reality the latter is true since both theism and atheism are merely 'components' of both secular and religion, are in and of themselves not equivalent to religion or secular automatically. There is crisscrossing, Myth 1, 8, and 9 mention atheism is not a religion itself, however, atheists can be either religious or secular. The same can be argued for theism since theism is not a religion either (no religion is called "theism") and theists can be either religious or secular also. None of these 4 terms are mutually exclusive inherently. Deists and Taoists are examples of the crisscross and overlap of identities/concepts.

Other things that were noticed were that some of the entries deviate quite a lot from the original claim and sometimes irrelevant material is discussed, while other entries are not really myths (they admit to core parts of some claims as being true) and some myths are redundant, obvious, or repeated. One thing I found to be very pointless was that there are many cartoons of Jesus and Mohammad "Jesus and Mo" throughout the book, that really serve no intellectual purpose at all but to waste space that could have been used to enhance the myth busting.
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