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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.
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There are certainly some caveats though. First of all, some of the information is a bit dated. Martin's comments on the sociology of religion could certainly benefit from the two decades of research since the writing of the book. Moreover, since many readers might stumble upon this book after reading authors like Dawkins and Hitchens, those expecting anything near the flair and readability of the "new atheist" authors may be disappointed by Martin's denser, less colorful writing style.
Here's an excerpt: "A class of propositions is said to be closed with respect to conjunctive elimination if (necessarily), whenever the conjunctive of two propositions is in a class, so are the two propositions themselves" (p. 384).
This book is most suited to people who a) already understand what the above sentence means or b) are really, really interested in investing the time and mental effort necessary to figure out what exactly Martin is saying. For those willing to spend quite a bit of time deciphering Martin's points, this book is a valuable, if somewhat dated, resource.
Recently I read Michael Martin passed away at age 83. If you view his Wikipedia page it is short and yet his books are very influential in the philosophy of religion. I challenge you, any of you reading this, to read Atheism: A Philosophical Justification now, in 2015, and really report it wasn't influential or completely based on reason. Even now, many years from when I read it, this book remains the most philosophically sound justification of atheism I've ever read. From positive to negative atheism, with all the arguments theists have come up with, Martin responds to them all with clear, rational, concise responses.
This book is a hard read. It requires you to understand formal logic and the intricacies of who he is responding to at the time, yet ultimately it is one of the most important philosophical texts ever written. It is simply breathtaking in it's scope
I never met Michael but he responded to me a few times in emails. He was a a kind, gentle, and yet genius of a man. This book isn't dated. In fact, it's so complex and complete very few humans date to understand it.
I miss him.