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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."
From the Publisher
Logical reasons for being an atheist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.) Martin's book is missing other important evidential atheological arguments as well, including Michael Tooley's argument from physical minds, Paul Draper's argument about combining evolution with the problem of evil, Draper's argument from the biological role of pain and pleasure, and religious confusion. Likewise, on the theistic side, Martin's book says nothing about recent sophisticated defenses of so-called 'intelligent design' theory.
Third, I doubt that Martin's critique of moral arguments for theism will satisfy anyone except atheist philosophers, given the brevity of the discussion. If morality can be objective without God, Martin needs to say more about the matter than he does. And moral objectivists will not be impressed by Martin's 4-sentence (hypothetical?) dismissal of moral objectivism (which, I suppose, is another one of Martin's "fall-back" strategies.)
Overall, I think Michael Martin's _Atheism_ can be a useful addition to a person's library, so long as he or she is aware of its limitations. I hope that Martin revises his book so that these limitations are removed.
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