The Atheist's Primer

Overview

In The Atheist's Primer, a prominent philosopher, Dr Michael Palmer, reinstates the importance of philosophy in the debate about God's existence. The 'new atheism' of Richard Dawkins and others has been driven by largely Darwinian objections to God's existence, limiting the debate to within a principally scientific framework. This has obscured the philosophical tradition of atheism, in which the main intellectual landmarks in atheism's history are to be found.

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The Atheist's Primer

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Overview

In The Atheist's Primer, a prominent philosopher, Dr Michael Palmer, reinstates the importance of philosophy in the debate about God's existence. The 'new atheism' of Richard Dawkins and others has been driven by largely Darwinian objections to God's existence, limiting the debate to within a principally scientific framework. This has obscured the philosophical tradition of atheism, in which the main intellectual landmarks in atheism's history are to be found.

With an analysis of atheistic thought from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, Palmer explains and comments on the philosophical arguments warranting atheism, discussing issues such as evil, morality, miracles, and the motivations for belief. The emphasis placed on materialism and the limitations of our knowledge might seem disheartening to some; but Palmer concludes on a positive note, arguing – alongside Nietzsche, Marx and Freud and many others – that happiness and personal fulfilment are to be found in the very materialism that religious belief rejects.

Michael Palmer first addressed these issues in his student-oriented edition, The Atheist's Creed, of which The Atheist's Primer is a revised abridgement for the general reader. Palmer has now stripped out the primary texts and expanded his commentaries into fluent and concise analyses of the arguments. Free of philosophical jargon and assumptions of prior knowledge, this is an important introduction to a major cultural debate.

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Editorial Reviews

Skeptical Adversaria - Dougie Gibbard
‘If you are a student of philosophy, history and possibly psychology you will find much to interest you in this book.’
L'ATEO - Enrica Rota
‘The various logical arguments in favour of atheism contained in this book represent a valid arsenal of munitions very useful for both atheists and agnostics, in order to to be able to rebut in an efficient way all of the pseudo-demonstrations that believers always advance in favour of their divinities...’
Times Literary Supplement - Mark Vernon
‘[The Atheist's Primer] seeks to highlight “important philosophical arguments” that Palmer believes have been sidelined in contemporary debates between theists and their opponents. He is surely right that the greatest atheist thinkers – Nietzsche, Marx and Freud – often do not receive a full hearing...’
Reviews in Science and Religion
‘This book […] offers an engaging introduction, accessible to the general reader, to the history of atheism and to some of the main contemporary philosophical arguments for atheism. […] it will be especially helpful for those without a philosophical background.’
Religious Studies - David Leech
Palmer's book is a refreshing, jargon-free take on the history of atheism which, spanning the analytic-continental divide, covers a very broad range of philosophical arguments [...] it can be recommended to the general reader as a lively and accessible introduction to philosophical atheism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780718892975
  • Publisher: Lutterworth Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 1,492,566
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Palmer
A former Teaching Fellow at McMaster University and Humboldt Fellow at Marburg University, Dr Palmer has taught at Marlborough College and Bristol University. For many years Founding Head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at the Manchester Grammar School, Dr Palmer is also the author of the best-selling textbook Moral Problems as well as of the two-volume textbook The Philosophy of Religion.
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Table of Contents

Contents
The Atheist's Creed
Introduction

1. The Meaning of Atheism i. Atheism: A Definition ii. Atheism and Agnosticism
2. The Origins of Atheism i. The Age of the Sophists ii. Epicureans & Sceptics iii. The Christian Era and the Re-emergence of Religious Doubt
3. Two Arguments for God's Existence: An Atheistic Critique i. Introduction ii. The Arguments from Cause and Design iii. The Atheistic Critique
4. The Problem of Evil i. Introduction ii. The Logical (or Deductive) Argument from Evil iii. The Evidential (or Inductive) Argument from Evil
5. Morality and Religion i. Introduction ii. Criticisms of the Moral Argument iii. Life After Death and Morality iv. Nietzsche's Critique of Religious Morality
6. Miracles i. The Meaning of 'Miracle'
ii. The Critique of Miracles: Their Impossibility iii. The Critique of Miracles: Their Improbability
7. The Motivations of Belief i. Introduction ii. The Impulse to Believe
(a) Ludwig Feuerbach: God as the Projection of Man
(b) Karl Marx: Religion as the Opium of the People
(c) Sigmund Freud: Religion as a Universal Obsessional Neurosis

Conclusion
Guide to Further Reading
Index of Names
Index of Subjects

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