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Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic's Bookshelf) Paperback – September 1, 1979

4.0 out of 5 stars 296 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"A hard hitting attack against belief in the Christian God as well as all other supernatural beings....  This book might well be used in a beginning course in the philosophy of religion as a fair representation of contemporary atheistic thought. Students would...find it more provocative and challenging than some other treatment that may be technically more sophisticated. The author's direct and forceful way of making his points has great appeal; clearly, it is a book written with deep intellectual passion.... All in all, Smith's book provides a lively introduction to atheism."

--Teaching Philosophy

"Welcome, hard-hitting." --Publishers Weekly (reviewing the first edition of Atheism: The Case Against God)

"...prose is clear, straightforward, and relatively easy to follow--no small achievement when wading through centuries of epistemology and metaphysics."

--Journal of Church and State (reviewing Why Atheism?)

"George H. Smith is an independent scholar who for many decades has lectured and written about the history of classical liberal and libertarian ideas. The System of Liberty is his first extended take on this history to be published by a high-level academic press--a tribute both to Smith's dogged scholarship and to the rise in the respectability of the libertarian tradition he explains and espouses....the information and analysis are always interesting."

--Brian Doherty, Reason magazine (reviewing The System of Liberty)

"George Smith's lectures on classical liberalism had a profound effect on my thinking. Now, at long last, others may profit from his prodigious learning in this absolutely 'must read' book for anyone interested in modern libertarianism and its historical roots. Clear, accessible, balanced, and powerfully reasoned."

--Randy E. Barnett, author of The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law (reviewing The System of Liberty)

"This is a lucid, concise, but at the same time a deep overview of the origins and structure of classical liberal thought. With a fluid and engaging style, Smith corrects many of our modern misconceptions about how early liberals understood themselves and the terms on which they debated. Anyone interested in liberal thought, whether in its 'classical', modern 'high liberal', or libertarian forms, will find this a valuable resource. Even critics of classical liberalism will find, thanks to Smith, that classical liberal thought contains a great deal of forgotten wisdom."

--Jason Brennan, author of Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (reviewing The System of Liberty)

About the Author

George H. Smith is the author of the world's most popular book on nonbelief -- Atheism: The Case Against God--and Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Skeptic's Bookshelf
  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1st paperback ed edition (September 1, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087975124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879751241
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #461,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
It seems many reviewers haven't done their homework. At best I see one or two quotes from Smith's book which are generally secondary arguments and are chronically made out of context.
To defend the standpoint of the atheist, Smith need not answer the question "Is the universe eternal" or any of these other off-topic questions raised in earlier reviews. Please consult your local cosmologist for opinions on that subject matter.
Smith's argument is plain and simple. Forget everything you've learned on the subject of theism (to remove bias and address the issue objectively). Now let the theist propose his theory of God. Evaluate each line of argument posited by the theist. Smith identifies the logical flaws, inconsistencies, and unclear definitions in the theist's arguments. His conclusion is that if the theist can't convince you, using logic and evidence, of the existence of a God, then if you accept the existence of God, you are doing so irrationally. Atheism then stands as the rational alternative, equivalent to saying to the theist "You have not convinced me that 'God' exists." ATHEISM IS NOT A PROOF THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. INSTEAD IT IS THE ASSERTION THAT THEISM DOES NOT PROVIDE AN ADEQUATE PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
Many of the reviewers of this book have missed this very critical and highly essential pillar of the book, and have instead chosen to attack less important issues or formulate overly-simplistic proofs of why God HAS to exist. Had they actually read the book, they would have found that many of these arguments are addressed.
This book will do you no good if you thumb through it and pick out a line or two from a page in the middle and then scoff at it.
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Format: Paperback
Though I consider myself a Christian, I do not support the Christian apologetic stance that our faith can be verified through reason, and George Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" gives ample reasons as to why. Faith should be, as Soren Kierkegaard envisioned it, a purely irrational leap.
The restriction on the length of my review of this book (imposed by
Amazon.com at a 1,000 words) does not allow me to delineate all the positive particulars this book has to offer. Regrettably, I can only emphasize what aspects of this book distinguish it from other works of a similar nature.
One of the most attractive features that I found in Smith's book was his ability to convey complex philosophical dilemmas, that are germane to the realm of theism, without falling into the common practice - which most professional philosophers constantly do - of inundating his arguments with esoteric jargon. Any laymen can peruse through Smith's work without having to open a philosophical dictionary every five minutes. While Smith does put forth his charges against religious belief in a manner that is fairly easy to grasp, he does not sacrifice substantive content, therefore an individual who is more seasoned in the subject of philosophy and theology will not find "Atheism: The Case Against God" lacking by any means. This ability to reach both the philosophical hobbyist and the academician speaks much of Smith's talent as a writer as it does of him as a philosopher.
Outside this book's easily discernable assertions, another noteworthy characteristic of Smith's piece is its originality.
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16 Comments 355 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
In my opinion, this book provides a good introduction to atheism and related philosophical issues. The hostile-sounding title might put some people off, but Smith makes it clear in the first section of his book that the primary focus of the book is whether or not theistic claims should be accepted as true. If one can show that theistic belief if flawed (the case against god), then one supports atheism.
Smith then proceeds to do just that for the remainder of his book. He covers basic and important subjects such as god concepts, faith, morality, and common arguments for god. Smith argues that no rational person can accept theism as true and he discusses the philosophical problems of many theistic arguments. Smith writes in a non-technical style, and this may be why the book is popular. I think Smith's book could serve as a good starting point for approaching more thorough and technical books on atheism.
Smith spends much of the book analyzing Christianity, and I would have preferred it if he spent more time looking at theism in general. Throughout the book, he describes major flaws in Christianity, and after awhile it appears as though he's just whipping a dead horse. Of course, it's a dead horse that many people insist on riding, so I suppose that critiquing it from several perspectives may help to convince some of the riders that they're not going anywhere on that beast.
If you are a philosophical layperson who wants to learn more about atheism, then this is the book you should read.
Now, if I may digress, it appears that some of the reviews posted before mine do not really review the book at all. Instead, they provide theistic arguments that supposedly refute the arguments that Smith makes in his book. It is interesting to note that the theistic arguments offered below are actually covered in Smith's book, where he shows them to be flawed. It makes me wonder if some of those reviewers actually read or understood the book.
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