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Atheism: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – August 28, 2003

3.9 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


`lively and readable...ideal for a popular audience...his very short introduction, which packs into a hundred pages a wealth of insight and argument, is itself a wonderful commitment to the rational thought which he defends'
Richard Norman, New Humanist

About the Author

Julian Baggini is editor and co-founder of The Philosophers' Magazine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192804243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192804242
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had not heard of _Atheism: A Very Short Introduction_ prior to receiving it as a gift from a friend. As I read the book, however, I quickly realized that Julian Baggini had written a masterful introduction to atheism, one that is sure to become a classic for years to come. Here is the table of contents:
List of Illustrations
1. What Is Atheism?
2. The Case for Atheism
3. Atheist Ethics
4. Meaning and Purpose
5. Atheism in History
6. Against Religion?
7. Conclusion
References and further reading
In chapter 1, Baggini explains his primary purpose in _Atheism_ is to "provide a positive case for atheism," which he defines as "the belief that there is no God or gods" (p. 3). As Baggini correctly explains, atheism is not materialism, and Baggini makes it clear that he rejects materialism. Instead, most atheism is rooted in "the broader claims of naturalism" (p. 7). Since naturalism *entails* atheism, any evidence for naturalism is automatically evidence for naturalism. (The converse is not necessarily true, however.) In Baggini's words, "atheism is essentially a form of naturalism and so its main evidential base is the evidence for naturalism" (p. 16). Why is this significant? Because the evidential case for naturalism is much broader than the evidential case for atheism. Thus, Baggini's case for atheism has a far greater explanatory scope than the cases found in recent defenses of atheism by such scholars as Martin, Rowe, Le Poidevin, Smith, and Mackie, who do not defend atheism by appealing to the case for naturalism.
In chapter 2, Baggini sets forth his case for atheism.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit it: I am a fan of these little books. It's my dirty little secret. These short introductions provide one with a pocketsize, portable introduction to a wide variety of topics. With a light tone and a surface skim of the issues, these little guides provide one with the general overview one might expect in a small survey course. Naturally, there are downsides. Are these guides comprehensive? Heavens no! Do they take time to dig deeply into the issues? Not generally. But are they a good resource to use if you want to get your feet wet before you dive in? Yes. When used properly, these little guidebooks can allow what might start out as a casual curiosity to develop into a more in-depth research project. In fact, all of these introductions provide references and suggestions for further reading.

Julian Baggini's _A Very Short Introduction to Atheism_ is told from the viewpoint of one who attended Roman Catholic primary schooling and went on to become an atheist. He spends the first couple of chapters matching up atheism with naturalism and realism, while sketching out some basic positive arguments for atheism. Baggini also deals with the lack of evidence for theism and claims that the motivations and methods of science are clearly in favor of non-belief in the supernatural (a general claim that the atheist generally holds). Chapter three responds to various theistic challenges that morality and ethics rely upon religion and a belief in the supernatural. Chapter four handles one other common objection to atheism: that it leads to a life devoid of meaning and purpose. The last couple of chapters deal with the history of atheism and the various schools of thought concerning the militancy of atheism.

Baggini's _Introduction_ is short...very short.
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By A Customer on December 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is definitely a jewel of a little book. Clear rational thinking and to the point. It presents the arguments for the non-existence of a supernatural being in simple language. It shows why there is abundant evidence that everything exists within the natural world and why the arguments for a supernatural domain are utterly flawed.
As for the one negative review below, just take it at face value. It's most likely writen by Rev. Cheung himself. I took his advice and checked out some of his books. Well, his total lack of rational thinking is frightening. His writing clearly show how possessed by the supernatural one can become, basically losing all sense of reality. His book ( and all his writings) is based on the assumption that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Why? Just because he says so! He writes page after page based on this alone, and thus every argument he makes is utterly flawed. He claims that -- "the power of the dogmatically argument is such that it conclusively establishes the entire Christian faith as true, and simultaneously serves as a conclusive refutation to all non-Christian ideas and worldviews, whether known or unknown" -- He uses this type argument to prove such points as -- "since evolution contradicts Scripture, then evolution is automatically false" -- ! Need I go on . I have never had such a good laugh reading fundamentalist "philosophy". Reading his books leads one to clearly understand why supernaturalistic systems of belief can not be taken seriously as a world view or philosophy for society today. As their foundation, Cheung and others like him, have rejected reason and find no problem with rejecting 2000 years of accumulated scientific knowledge. The philosophy that Cheung propounds is one that would promote the idea that we are simply passing through this sin stained world on our way to God's kingdom. This is the same philosophy responsible for the 9/11 terrorism.
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