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The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death Hardcover – March 12, 2015

3.2 out of 5 stars 17 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


This is a hugely needed book. It addresses profound questions that are too seldom answered from a naturalistic point of view and answers them authoritatively yet surprisingly accessibly. In view of its scope and comprehensiveness - and especially because critical books on the afterlife have been so rare - the release of The Myth of an Afterlife is a noteworthy publishing event.
— Free Inquiry

The book is impressively clear, thorough and detailed. It is also forcefully argued. . . .[T]his is an important book, and can be read with profit by believers, if only to remind themselves how formidable the arguments against survival of consciousness can seem to be. It will reinforce the atheistic convictions of its natural audience, and will doubtless encourage young Americans, especially, to disregard the God-talk they hear spouted all around them.
— Journal of the Society for Psychical Research

Martin and Augustine deserve credit for assembling this wide-ranging group of papers in opposition to belief in an afterlife. For those who agree with them, the collection offers a virtual armory of ready-made weapons. For others, it comprises an impressive assemblage of obstacles that must be overcome or circumvented.
— Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Ultimately, the value of The Myth of an Afterlife lies in its comprehensiveness. It recognizes that '…a volume that focuses on arguments against an afterlife is essential for revealing the full force of the case against life after death,' and in this capacity, it delivers. For the novice, it serves as an advanced but approachable introduction to the facets and literature of the survivalist-mortalist debate across a wide variety of disciplines, with especially helpful introductions and overviews provided by the editors. For the more advanced scholar, it serves as a reference work, providing convenient summaries and surveys of the literature and studies in addition to the proffered arguments. Lastly, for any intellectually honest survivalist, it is a catalog of the myriad challenges against his or her view that must be neutralized in order to render the view defensible.
— Metapsychology Online Reviews

[P]hilosophers Keith Augustine and the late Michael Martin took it upon themselves to assemble a team of 29 valiant contributors to attack the afterlife ‘myth.’ The result is an impressive volume composed of 30 essays, spanning 675 pages and organized in 4 parts…. The Myth of an Afterlife, rather, stays focused on its main mission of dismantling the survival hypothesis, regardless of why humans tend to accept it. Its rigor, relentless argumentation, and careful attention to the evidence and possible objections make it a major and unique contribution to a topic long neglected by scientists. Its main virtue, in fact, is simply to take the idea of the afterlife and its consequences seriously, and see where this leads. Given the current success of neuroscience in establishing the neural basis of consciousness and thought, is it still honest to claim that we simply don’t know ‘what comes after’? If so, then, one might wonder what exactly the cognitive and brain sciences have been discovering and teaching us all along about the nature of the mind.
— Skeptic Magazine

As the editors point out, there are plenty of books arguing the case for an afterlife but few that examine the case against. This collection of thirty articles in over 650 pages does just that…. [The articles] hammer home the conclusion that there is absolutely no evidence from neurology that mental functions have any independence from the physical brain, and indeed such an idea when critically examined makes no sense.
— Magonia Review of Books

The Myth of the Afterlife is a massive tome explicitly making the case against life after death with 30 chapters in four parts: empirical arguments for annihilation, conceptual and empirical difficulties for survival, problematic models of the afterlife, and dubious evidence for survival.... [T]he volume ... provide[s] readers with a sophisticated analysis of many arguments related to survival.
— Network Review

Understandings from this text, particularly on cognition, could ... further the critical examination of thought processes that accompany discourse on mortality.
— Mortality

What all these papers show is how quickly a range of insurmountable problems arise as soon as implications are drawn out from the unconsidered and cosseted beliefs of those devoted to rebirth and survival. As long as people pick and mix their ideas without acknowledging the logical relations between them, they will wallow in delusions. The arguments in this excellent book should sway the open-minded. It is also bulky enough for self-defence.
— The Skeptic (UK)

About the Author

Michael Martin is professor of philosophy emeritus at Boston University. In addition to more than 150 articles and reviews, he is the author or editor of several books, including The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Atheism, Morality, and Meaning, and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification. Keith Augustine is executive director and scholarly paper editor of Internet Infidels (infidels.org), which hosts the popular Secular Web. He is well known as a skeptic on the question of survival after death. He has published in Skeptic magazine and his work has been the object of discussion in multiple issues of the Journal of Near-Death Studies.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 2.61 pounds
  • Hardcover : 708 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0810886774
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0810886773
  • Product Dimensions : 6.38 x 2.23 x 9.32 inches
  • Publisher : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (March 12, 2015)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.2 out of 5 stars 17 ratings