Critiques of God: Making the Case Against Belief in God Paperback – March 1, 1997
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Critiques Of God is the only collection of writings to present, in a comprehensive way, the case against belief in God. The arguments for God's existence, the validity of mystical experience, and the importance of the God concept for the development of morality and meaning in life are critically evaluated by sixteen well-known philosophers and psychologists. Included are works by Kurt Baier, John Dewey, Paul Edwards, Antony Flew, Sigmund Freud, Erich Fromm, Sidney Hook, Walter Kaufmann, Corliss Lamont, Wallace I. Matson, H. J. McCloskey, Ernest Nagel, Kai Nielsen, Richard Robinson, Bertrand Russell, and Michael Scriven.
In no other volume are the most fundamental questions of religion explored with such force and conviction. Included are discussions of the meaning of the existence of God, the relationships between faith and mysticism, reason and science, fate, the problem of evil, ethics without God, and immortality.
Peter A. Angeles is retired from the Philosophy Department at Santa Barbara City College (California). He is the author of The Problem Of God: A Short Introduction. -- Midwest Book Review
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Some of the essays also ignore trenchant counter-arguments from theists which would make their case much more difficult to defend. Also, the essay by Freud has largely been abandoned - even by atheists due to the fact that psychoanalysis is an un-falsifiable doctrine & therefore has precious little worth. As a matter of fact, since Freud wrote his comments there have been theistic psychologists who have tried to psychoanalyze atheists for NOT believing in God. Just like Freud, their interpretations of the facts are un-falsifiable as well. In the end, this turns into nothing more than a fruitless tournament of ad-homineum arguments which neither side can win (or lose).
However, there are plenty of good arguments presented in this book. It is well worth the read for all people interested in the topic of religion or atheism. People on both sides of the fence will benefit by reading this book.
I've always despised the monotheist god as powerless and unworthy of respect. This articles in this book make a case against it, so I like it for that reason already.
My strongest complaint (but far from my only complaint) about the monotheist god is that it is supposed to be The First Cause. Well, I do not like that concept much. It is similar to saying that the world rests on the back of a large turtle. Well, what does that turtle rest on? A larger turtle! And do not worry, there are turtles all the way down, each one larger than the previous one!
The analogy with a First Cause is obvious, there are causes all the way down, with god being the biggest! Infinitely big. But I think this begs the question. We are trying to explain the simple in terms of the complex, not a good idea philosophically. The only way to get any sense out of this is for the causes to be simpler as you go down. And that makes the first cause infinitely weak, small, and powerless. And not strong at all.
On top of that, I think the monotheist god not only has too many inconsistent qualities, it is also a little too talented at opposite kinds of things. What does it mean to be perfectly patient and perfectly impatient at the same time?
Anyway, the book starts with Kant's fine attack on the ontological argument for the existence of god, which happens to be one of the few pro-god arguments that I actually think is worth reading about. It then makes a more serious point, namely that a benevolent and omnipotent god is inconsistent with observed reality.
There are, of course, discussions of the First Cause argument. And the argument from Design. There is also a discussion of the idea that when one thinks about god, one ought to avoid reason, logic, and facts!
There is a great chapter about ineffability. I think this is an interesting argument, namely that belief in god is a reasonable, helpful, and self-consistent concept, but it is just hard to explain it to everyone! And that leads into arguments about religious experience.
I like the section about free will and evil. The argument is often made that god has a choice between making us Good by force and allowing us the Freedom to be Bad. But that is surely a false choice. We could be more rational!
Then there is a section on morality without god (a concept I think we all need to ponder on, given that the monotheist god surely does not actually exist as described by the major monotheist religions). A section on illusions of immortality. And on the "meaning" of life, of the cosmos, and of existence.
Finally, there is an article about religious claims that an honest and scholarly search for truth is in fact malicious.
I highly recommend this book.