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Charles Echelbarger

Charles Echelbarger

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Hume's Tacit Atheism (1975)

In this interpretation of David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Echelbarger critiques George Nathan's argument that the Dialogues indicate that Hume believed that "God is the ultimate cause of order in the universe" and that Hume's criticisms were only intended to question the nature of God, not his existence. After analyzing the text of the Dialogues and determining what Hume's ostensible God can't be, Echelbarger concludes that Hume's atheism is "tacit, subtle, and ironic," and that it is "more accurate to say that, for Hume, Nature takes the place of God."

The Presumption of Atheism Revisited (2020)

Whether deserved or not, Antony Flew acquired a reputation for wrongheadedly using Karl Popper's falsifiability criterion against theological statements such as "God exists" or "God loves us." He also famously maintained that God debates should proceed under a presumption of atheism, with theistic debaters bearing the entire burden of proof while atheistic debaters simply tore down their arguments. In this paper Charles Echelbarger aims to make sense of why Flew seemed to be opposed to atheist debaters bearing a burden of proof by additionally offering positive arguments for atheism. Echelbarger concludes that a presumption of atheism may be justified if an atheist debater provides justified doubts that "God exists" expresses a proposition that could be true or false at all, such as if the concept of God definitionally includes the incoherent notion of an agent that acts outside of time. Theological statements may be unfalsifiable precisely because they possess such undetected conceptual incoherence. Though flawed in presentation, Flew's basic insight is more important than has often been acknowledged, and it is still highly relevant to current discussions in the philosophy of religion.

Review of Drange's Nonbelief and Evil (2005)

In this review of Ted Drange's Nonbelief and Evil, Charles Echelbarger outlines the contribution that the book makes to the philosophy of religion literature, comparing it to the work of other nontheistic philosophers of religion and noting Drange's emphasis on the different conceptions of God that comprehensive nontheistic arguments must address. He then turns to a discussion of Drange's two main arguments, the argument from evil and the argument from nonbelief, noting that Drange finds the latter superior to the more traditional argument from evil. He also notes that, on Drange's view, the argument from nonbelief has no force against the existence of the sort of remote Creator envisioned by radical deism.

Published on the Secular Web

Modern Library

The Presumption of Atheism Revisited

The Presumption of Atheism Revisited (2020) Charles Echelbarger Antony Flew’s “Theology and Falsification” has become one of the most widely discussed articles on contemporary philosophy of religion. Many anthologies and textbooks included it, and continue to include it today. Twenty years ago it was republished on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee anniversary.[1] Its republication […]