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Michael Martin

[1932 - 2015]

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Table of Contents

Atheism

Atheistic Ethics

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of Religion

Presuppositionalism

Theism

Debates

Reviews




Atheism

NOTE: Readers interested in more of Martin's writings on atheism should consult his books.

Are There Really No Atheists? (1996)

Some Christians, such as Greg Bahnsen, maintain that there are no atheists. They believe, of course, that some people profess to be atheists. But according to them these people suffer from a form of self-delusion. The doubters insist that in their heart of hearts people who profess not to believe in God really do. Martin evaluates the claim that no atheists exist and concludes that atheists have every reason to suppose that they really are atheists.

Atheism (1993) (Off Site)

This is the text of the "Atheism" article that appears in Microsoft Encarta 98 encyclopedia.

Atheism and Humanistic Value Theory (1996)

"Atheism and humanistic value theory . . . are distinct and separable positions. ... [Humanists must] defend their humanistic values without support from either atheism or theism. Since humanistic values can be supported by both camps, both belief and nonbelief in God are irrelevant."

Atheism and Intraorganizational Free Speech (1997)

"The suppression of expressions not only has harmful results but is inconsistent with atheists' criticism of religion's suppression of speech. It also defeats what is in the atheistic organizations' own best interests. I conclude therefore that atheistic organizations should not suppress expression of opinion in their ranks unless such expressions are defamatory, seditious, invasive of privacy, or incitive to violence."

Atheistic Education (1998)

Martin concludes that "the lack of excellent atheistic educational literature--whatever value this literature may have when judged on other grounds--makes it hard to provide excellent atheistic education."

A Disproof of God's Existence (1970)

'God' in one sense that is widely accepted in non-academic circles is self contradictory and thus that God in this sense cannot exist. Martin first gives a rather informal exposition of the disproof, followed by a more formal version. Finally, Martin defends the disproof against possible objections.

Does the Evidence Confirm Theism More Than Naturalism? (1984)

A positive answer is given by George Schlesinger in Religion and Scientific Method to the question posed in the title of this paper. Martin first outlines Schlesinger's argument for this answer and then shows that his argument fails.

Friendly Atheism? (1996)

Friendly atheism as I have constructed it is a plausible view and atheists would be well advised to give it serious consideration.

How to Educate an Atheist (2000)

In this essay, Martin discusses the following questions. What it is to be well educated as an atheist? What methods are available to educate atheists well?

Positive Atheism and the Meaninglessness of Theism (1999)

Martin argues that there is no inconsistency between his thesis that religious language is meaningless and his defense of positive atheism.

Should Atheism Be Universally Held? (2001)

In a recent article, Dmitri Tymoczko argues that religion is false but useful. Therefore, atheism should not be universally held by everyone. Martin responds to Tymoczko's article.

 

Atheistic Ethics

NOTE: Readers interested in more of Martin's writings on atheistic ethics should consult his books.

Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape (1997)

One of the more dramatic debating maneuvers used by Christian apologists against atheists is to argue that atheists can provide no objective reason for not raping people. This startling claim follows from the apologists' wider claim that atheists can provide no objective moral reasons for anything. In this paper I will examine both claims in context of the debate between atheism and theism.

The Copan-Martin Exchange

Can Michael Martin Be a Moral Realist?: Sic et Non (1999) by Paul Copan (Off Site)

Copan argues that Martin's essay suffers from significant flaws, including the lack of an ontological foundation for an objective morality within an atheistic framework.

Copan's Critique of Atheistic Objective Morality (2000)

Martin responds to a recent article by Paul Copan. Martin argues that a theistic ontological foundation of morality is impossible, that moral realism is possible in a godless universe, that theistic morality is subject to the accusation of arbitrariness whereas naturalistic moral relaism is not, and that human beings are not "special" in the sense intended by theists. In short, Martin argues that Copan's critique atheistic metaethics is mistaken and his defense of a theistic moral realism is unsound.

Atheistic Goodness Revisited: A Personal Reply to Michael Martin (2000) by Paul Copan (Off Site)

Copan's reply to Martin's reply, written in the form of a personal letter.

The Naturalistic Fallacy and Other Mistaken Arguments of Paul Copan (2000)

In this response to Paul Copan, Martin revisits Copan's defense of the ontological foundation of theistic morality. Martin also addresses the charge that ethical naturalists commit the naturalistic fallacy, delves into the argument from evil, the Euthyphro Dilemma, as well as notions of original sin and intrinsic human worth.

Bob & Gretchen Passantino

Religion, Truth, and Value without God: Contemporary Atheism Speaks Out in Humanist Manifesto 2000, Part 2 (2004) by Bob & Gretchen Passantino

Although this does not focus exclusively on Martin's essay, Martin's essay is criticized on the grounds that Christian theism holds that God's moral character is essential to His very nature and is not willed by Him--the other way around from what Martin suggests.

Butler's Defense of TAG and Critique of TANG (1996)

In a recent paper, Michael Butler defended the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) and criticized the Transcendental Argument for the NonExistence of God (TANG). Martin's reply to Butler includes a critique of Butler's claim that ethics is dependent on God.

Follow-up Response to Michael Martin (1996) by Michael Butler (Off Site)

Some thoughtful questions have been raised in response to Mr. Butler's article in last month's Penpoint critiquing Dr. Michael Martin's "Transcendental Argument for the Non- Existence of God" (TANG). In this issue some of the questins raised are addressed. Mr. Butler begins his discussion with a few further comments about the nature of transcendental arguments.

Butler's Reply (1997)

Martin argues that TANG meets Butler's conditions for a transcendental argument. Moreover, even if it did not, Martin points out that Butler failed to show that TANG is an abortive attempt at an internal critique of the Christian worldview. SCCCS, by the way, has refused to acknowledge this essay on their web site despite repeated requests to do so.

On Two Reviews of Atheism, Morality and Meaning (2003)

Michael Martin responds to reviews by Taner Edis and Jeffery Jay Lowder of his book Atheism, Morality and Meaning, answering specific criticisms which, according to Martin, are inaccurate, at least in part.

Reply to Martin on Atheism and Morality by Jeffery Jay Lowder (2003)

Lowder responds to Martin's recent reply to his review of Martin's book, Atheism, Morality and Meaning, answering Martin's objections.

 

Philsophy of Religion

NOTE: Included here are essays by Michael Martin on miscellaneous topics related to the philosophy of religion, as well as discussion of Martin's work by other writers. Readers interested in more of Martin's writings on the philosophy of religion should consult his books.

Justifying Methodological Naturalism (2002)

In his book, Tower of Babel, Robert T. Pennock faults the New Creationists for failing to realize that science is committed--not to Ontological Naturalism (the view that only natural processes or events exist)--but rather to Methodological Naturalism (a position which, although it does not deny the possibility of the existence of the supernatural, assumes for the sake of inquiry that it does not exist). Martin considers the question of how one can reject Ontological Naturalism and yet justify that Methodological Naturalism is an appropriate stance in the context of science.

On a New Argument for Agnosticism (2001)

Martin responds to Bill Schultz's essay A Formal Justification of Agnosticism (2001).

Three Courses in Philosophy of Religion (1997) (Off Site)

Over a teaching career of thirty years at Boston University, Martin taught courses in the philosophy of religion at three different levels. In this paper, originally published in the Fall 1997 APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy, Martin briefly describes the content of these courses, the teaching methods used, and some of the problems he encountered.

Wittgenstein's Lectures on Religious Belief (2001)

Martin analyzes the only written source of Ludwig Wittgenstein's lectures on religious beliefs, concentrating on three ideas within them, (1) the nature of religious beliefs, (2) the incommensurability of religious and nonreligious beliefs, and (3) the unreasonableness of religious beliefs.

 

See Also:

Theism and Contemporary Cosmology (2002) by Shandon Guthrie

In his book, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Michael Martin offers several objections to the kalam cosmological argument. In his M.A. thesis, Shandon Guthrie defends the kalam cosmological argument against various objections, including those put forward by Martin in Atheism.

 

Presuppositionalism

NOTE: Readers interested in more of Martin's writings on presuppositionalism should consult his debate transcripts.

Does Induction Presume the Existence of the Christian God? (1997)

Michael Martin describes and refutes the inductional form of the Transcendental Argument for God's existence.

Does Logic Presuppose the Existence of the Christian God? (2000)

Martin argues that there are no good reasons to believe logic presupposes the Christian god.

Reply to Butler, Ventrella, and Fields (1996)

Martin explains that he refused to participate in an oral debate with Greg Bahnsen because he refused to help SCCCS profit from the debate. SCCCS, by the way, has refused to acknowledge this essay on their web site despite repeated requests to do so.

The Great Debate Gets Personal (1996) by Michael Butler (Off Site)

Butler responds to Martin's comments regarding his experiences with SCCCS. Butler also defends the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) and criticizes the Transcendental Argument for the NonExistence of God (TANG).

Butler's Defense of TAG and Critique of TANG (1996)

Michael Butler in a recent paper published on the Internet has attempted to defend The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) and refute The Transcendental Argument for the NonExistence of God (TANG). In this paper, Martin concludes that the only thing Butler has added to the discussion is that "it is impossible to go from factual claims to ethical claims-- in other words, that 'is' does not imply 'ought.' . . . The upshot of Butler's defense is that he has failed to defend TAG and refute TANG with respect to ethics."

Follow-up Response to Michael Martin (1996) by Michael Butler (Off Site)

Some thoughtful questions have been raised in response to Mr. Butler's article in last month's Penpoint critiquing Dr. Michael Martin's "Transcendental Argument for the Non- Existence of God" (TANG). In this essay some of the questions raised are addressed. Mr. Butler begins his discussion with a few further comments about the nature of transcendental arguments.

Butler's Reply (1997)

Martin argues that TANG meets Butler's conditions for a transcendental argument. Moreover, even if it did not, Martin points out that Butler failed to show that TANG is an abortive attempt at an internal critique of the Christian worldview. SCCCS, by the way, has refused to acknowledge this essay on their web site despite repeated requests to do so.

Zens' Defense of TAG (2000)

Martin responds to presuppositionalist Adam Spurgeon Zens.

Zens' New Defense of TAG (2001)

Martin responds to presuppositionalist Adam Spurgeon Zens' discussion of Reichenbach.

 

Theism

NOTE: Readers interested in more of Martin's writings on theism and theistic arguments should consult his books.

The Coherence of The Hypothesis of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Free and Perfectly Evil Being (1985)

Richard Swinburne has argued that the hypothesis of theism (h1) is a very simple hypothesis. Because of its simplicity Swinburne maintains that h1 has a higher prior probability than rival hypotheses. This alleged higher prior probability is used by Swinburne in combination with other considerations to argue that h1 has a higher a posteriori probability than its rivals. One rival hypothesis to h1 that is not explicitly considered by Swinburne is that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, free and perfectly evil Being. Consequently, his probabilistic argument for the existence of God must be reconsidered since his probabilistic argument implicitly assumes that The Absolute Evil One is impossible.

Craig's Holy Spirit Epistemology (1998)

"In Reasonable Faith, William Lane Craig makes a sharp distinction between knowing that God exists and being able to show this. He maintains that one knows that Christianity is true 'by the self-authenticating witness of God's Holy Spirit.' ... I will argue that Craig fails to make clear what an experience of the Holy Spirit is and does not justify his thesis that this experience is universal, veridical, and unmistakable. I will further maintain that, even if one grants his position, his claim that nonbelievers are without excuse for nonbelieving must be rejected unless one assumes that all beliefs are actions, and that he gives no reason to accept this assumption."

Trouble in Paradise? Michael Martin on Heaven (2003) by Tom Wanchick

Wanchick evaluates a sampling of Michael Martin's Internet publications, particularly his "Problems with Heaven" and "Craig's Holy Spirit Epistemology." On the former, Wanchick contends that Martin's arguments "are aimed largely at conceptions of Heaven that the vast majority of the Christian community would reject" and that his relevant arguments are "less than impressive." In his analysis of the latter, Wanchick critiques five objections Martin offers to the sort of Holy Spirit epistemology offered by William Lane Craig, concluding that "Dr. Martin's objections to this kind of Christian epistemology are largely mistaken."

More on Heaven (2004) by Michael Martin

Martin contends not only that there are serious problems with the Christian concept of Heaven, but also that although belief in Heaven may sometimes be liberating, it has more often been politically and socially repressive, hindering social change and making people complacent about poverty, political oppression, and injustice. Wanchick's assertion that everyone has had an experience of some God or other has no empirical support, and "conflicts with the apparently sincere claim of many atheists that they have had no religious experience.... Given conflicting religious experiences there is no reason to suppose that they have any validity at all."

Davis on the Rationality of Belief in the Resurrection (2005)

From 1998 to 2000, Michael Martin engaged Christian apologist Steven Davis in an exchange on the rationality of belief in the Resurrection in Philo. In a recent article in Philosophia Christi, Davis revisits the exchange and criticizes many of the arguments Martin raised earlier. Martin continues the exchange on the rationality of belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ for Christians in this latest installment on the Secular Web.

The Gap in Theistic Arguments (1997)

" ... all the major proofs for a theistic God contain a gap. Even if they are otherwise unassailable, they fail to prove what they purport to prove: that a theistic God exists. As proofs of theism these arguments are incomplete because the conclusion that in fact follows from their premises, barring other problems, is compatible with religious views besides theism."

Human Suffering and the Acceptance of God (1997)

Why is there so much human suffering in the world if God is all good and all powerful? According to Craig, God aims for the maximal number of people as possible to know God and His salvation. Yet if this truly were God's goal, there are many things which God could have done (but did not) and which do not involve suffering. Also, it is empirically false that suffering leads to knowledge of God. Moreover, if Craig's theodicy were true, then God should actually increase the amount of suffering in the world.

Is Christianity Absurd? (2002)

What does it mean to suppose that something is absurd? In the dictionary sense, to say that something is absurd is to say that it is ridiculously incongruous and unreasonable. Is Christianity absurd in the dictionary sense? Given standard criticisms of Christianity and certain plausible interpretations of it, Christianity is filled with ridiculous incongruities and unreasonable beliefs and practices. It can therefore be considered absurd.

Problems with Heaven (1997)

"Belief in Heaven is an essential part of the great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Famous theologians have written about it and ordinary theists hope to go there after death . . . However, the concept of Heaven is neither clear nor unproblematic. As I will show[,] there are three serious problems with the notion of Heaven. First, the concept of Heaven lacks coherence. Second, it is doubtful that theists can reconcile the heavenly character of Heaven with standard defenses against the Argument from Evil such as the Free Will Defense. Third, Heaven is unfair and, thus, it is in conflict with the goodness of God."

Trouble in Paradise?: Michael Martin on Heaven (2003) by Tom Wanchick

"In a sampling of his Internet publications, Prof. Michael Martin has argued that, when closely evaluated, the concept of Heaven as historically construed by Christians is found to be a veritable mare's nest of philosophical difficulties and confusions. But his arguments are aimed largely at conceptions of Heaven that the vast majority of the Christian community would reject. And even those that are relevant are less than impressive. If Dr. Martin wishes to uphold his thesis that Heaven is without philosophical merit, he needs to revamp his arguments--for, to date, none of them work."

More on Heaven (2004) by Michael Martin

Martin contends not only that there are serious problems with the Christian concept of Heaven, but also that although belief in Heaven may sometimes be liberating, it has more often been politically and socially repressive, hindering social change and making people complacent about poverty, political oppression, and injustice.

 

Debates

The Fernandes-Martin Debate on the Existence of God (1997) [ Index ]

An Internet debate between Christian philosopher Phil Fernandes and atheist philosopher Michael Martin on the existence of God. Fernandes presents his cumulative case for the existence of God in support of his thesis that "it is more reasonable to be a theist than it is to be an atheist." Martin's case for atheism is based upon the argument from incoherence, the argument from evil, and the argument from nonbelief.

The Jones-Parsons-Martin Debate: Is Non-Christian Thought Justifiable? (1991) [ Index ]

A written debate originally published in Antithesis magazine on the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God (TAG). Christian apologist Douglas Jones defends TAG; atheist philosophers Keith Parsons and Michael Martin respond.

The Martin-Frame Debate on the Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God (1996) [ Index ]

A written debate conducted exclusively over the Internet, the exchange between atheist philosopher Michael Martin and Christian philosopher John Frame over Martin's Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God (TANG), which argues that logic, ethics, and science presuppose the nonexistence of God.

 

Reviews

NOTE: listed in reverse chronological order.

Review of Patrick Glynn's God: The Evidence (1998)

Review of Hugo Meynell's Is Christianity True? (1998)

Review of Gordon Stein's An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism (1986)

Review of Antony Flew's God, Freedom, and Immortality (1985)

Review of George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God (1982)


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