Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case For Respectful Disbelief

Overview

A recent poll from the University of Minnesota finds that atheists are America’s least trusted social group. Perhaps compounding this negative impression is the attack-dog persona taken on in the past decade by the "New Atheists." Not only have they been quite public about their disbelief, but they’ve also stridently lambasted religious belief generally in a number of bestselling books.

Disturbed by this negative public perception and the deterioration in the tone of open ...

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Overview

A recent poll from the University of Minnesota finds that atheists are America’s least trusted social group. Perhaps compounding this negative impression is the attack-dog persona taken on in the past decade by the "New Atheists." Not only have they been quite public about their disbelief, but they’ve also stridently lambasted religious belief generally in a number of bestselling books.

Disturbed by this negative public perception and the deterioration in the tone of open debate, the authors of this eminently reasonable work attempt to introduce a note of civility and rational clarity. To both religious believers and fellow atheists they counsel a measured approach that combines serious intellectual engagement with respect for the reasonableness of the other side’s position.

The heart of the book is the authors’ moral case for atheism. Atheism, they contend, manifests a decidedly moral concern for others and their wellbeing. The authors further argue that atheism is driven by the kinds of moral considerations that should be familiar to all religious believers. Atheists are motivated by a moral concern for others, a desire to alleviate suffering and combat evil, and an appreciation for the value of life, freedom, and responsibility.

In the end, the authors make not only a compelling case for atheism but also for the value and necessity of mutual respect in a democratic society composed of diverse citizens.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…an intriguing view of the complexities of modern atheism."
-Kirkus Review
Kirkus Reviews

An investigation into the moral value of atheism for the faithful set.

Aiken and Talisse (Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed, 2008) return with a philosophical text that examines the importance of a logical approach to atheism. With simple language and easy-to-understand references, the authors attempt to convince an audience of believers that "atheism is a morally and intellectually responsible position." Believers, whom the authors assume regard all atheists as immoral individuals, are asked to consider atheists in the same light as they do those who embrace a religious belief different than their own. With anacademic approach and a title unlikely to attract their desired audience, the authors may find their arguments, however sound or logical, falling on deaf ears. Several of the issues raised, including a discussion of conversing about religion in mixed company, are well reasoned, but the third section of the book is the most interesting, exploring the ties between religion and the modern U.S. political system. The book includes two appendices: one that ponders "The Problem of Hell," and the other, a religion and morality test designed to broaden the reader's scope of all forms of religion, atheism included.

Although it may ultimately fail to attract its intended audience, an intriguing view of the complexities of modern atheism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616143831
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 219
  • Sales rank: 966,632
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott F. Aikin (Nashville, TN) is a senior lecturer in the philosophy department at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed (with Robert B. Talisse) and Epistemology and the Regress Problem.

Robert B. Talisse (Nashville, TN) is a professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Democracy and Moral Conflict, Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed (with Scott F. Aikin), A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy, and Democracy After Liberalism.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9

1 Arguing in Mixed Company 15

2 What Atheism Is 43

3 On the New Atheism 67

4 Ethics without God 95

5 A Moral Case for Atheism 127

6 Religion in Politics 165

Appendix A The Problem of Hell 193

Appendix B The Religion and Morality Test 201

Works Cited and Further Reading 209

Index 213

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