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Arguing for Atheism Robin Le Poidevin PDF

186 Pages·2008·1.73 MB·English
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Arguing for Atheism ‘Le Poidevin’s Arguing for Atheism is the best recent introduction to the philosophy of religion. Le Poidevin writes in a clear and engaging manner, without sacrifice of conceptual precision or argumentative depth. One way his book is distinguished from standard introductions to the philosophy of religion is the inclusion of some recent developments…. Le Poidevin gives a fair evaluation of both atheism and theism and his book is eminently suitable for courses on philosophy of religion…He does not merely recapitulate familiar ideas but introduces original and plausible arguments of his own. I would highly recommend this book to students and professors alike.’ Quentin Smith, Western Michigan University In Arguing for Atheism, Robin Le Poidevin addressses the question of whether theism—the view that there is a personal, transcendent creator of the universe—solves the deepest mysteries of existence. Philosophical defences of theism have often been based on the the idea that it explains things which atheistic approaches cannot: for example, why the universe exists, and how there can be objective moral values. The main contention of Arguing for Atheism is that the reverse is true: that in fact theism fails to explain many things it claims to, while atheism can explain some of the things it supposedly leaves mysterious. It is also argued that religion need not depend on belief in God. Designed as a text for university courses in the philosophy of religion and metaphysics, this book’s accessible style and numerous explanations of important philosophical concepts and positions will also make it attractive to the general reader. Robin Le Poidevin is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Change, Cause and Contradiction: A Defence of the Tenseless Theory of Time (1991) and co-editor, with Murray MacBeath, of The Philosophy of Time (1993). Arguing for Atheism An introduction to the philosophy of religion Robin Le Poidevin London and New York First published 1996 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004. © 1996 Robin Le Poidevin All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data Le Poidevin, Robin, 1962– Arguing for atheism: an introduction to the philosophy of religion/Robin Le Poidevin. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Religion—Philosophy. 2. Atheism. I. Title. BL51.L355 1996 211'.8–dc20 96–3431 CIP ISBN 0-203-42206-6 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-73030-5 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-415-09337-6 (hbk) ISBN 0-415-09338-4 (pbk) For my parents, Roy and Barbara and my children, Tom and Sam Contents List of illustrations x Preface xi Acknowledgements xiii Introduction xvii Part I The limits of theistic explanation 1 Must the universe have a cause? 3 The mysteries of existence 3 A first cause? 4 The temporal and modal cosmological arguments 5 Problems with the first premise 9 Summary 14 Further reading 15 2 Is God necessary? 17 Possible worlds 17 The ontological argument 19 The modal ontological argument 24 God and modal realism 27 Summary 31 Further reading 32 3 Could the universe have an explanation? 33 A trivial explanation 33 Causes and causal explanations 35 Personal explanation 38 A necessary cause? 40 Summary 41 Further reading 42 viii Contents 4 Are we the outcome of chance or design? 44 Analogy and the teleological argument 44 Probability and the teleological argument 46 The concept of chance 49 The weak anthropic principle 54 Summary 57 Further reading 57 5 Does the universe have a purpose? 59 The strong anthropic principle 59 Teleology and causal reductionism: the selfish gene hypothesis 61 Teleology without causal reductionism 66 Summary 68 Further reading 69 Part II Moral arguments for atheism 6 Are God and ethics inseparable or incompatible? 73 Plato’s dilemma 73 Descriptive versus prescriptive morality 76 Moral realism and moral subjectivism 79 Pluralism and autonomy 82 Summar 85 Further reading 86 7 Is there a problem of evil? 88 Disaster, depravity, deity and design 88 Determinism and human natur 91 Human freedom from the divine perspective 95 Can the theist refuse to answer the problem of evil? 99 Summary 103 Further reading 104 Part III Religion without God 8 Is God a fiction? 107 Realism, positivism and instrumentalism 107 Radical theology 111 Fiction and the emotions 114 A theism and religious practice 118 Summary 122 Further reading 123 Contents ix 9 Is ‘Does God exist?’ a real question? 124 The deflationist argument 124 The argument applied to theism 128 Deflationism deflated? 130 Summary 133 Further reading 134 10 Should the atheist fear death? 135 Riddles of mortality 135 The river of time and the sea of ice 136 Death in the mirror 140 Immortality: real and vicarious 143 Summary 145 Further reading 146 Glossary 147 Bibliography 152 Index 155

Arguing_for_Atheism_Robin_Le_Poidevin.pdf Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion Robin Le Poidevin
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