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Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy

Book Description

Atheism Explained explores the claims made both for and against the existence of God. On the pro side: that the wonders of the world can only be explained by an intelligent creator; that the universe had to start somewhere; telepathy, out-of-body experiences, and other paranormal phenomena demonstrate the existence of a spirit world; and that those who experience God directly provide evidence as real as any physical finding. After disputing these arguments through calm, careful criticism, David Ramsay Steele presents the reasons why God cannot exist: monstrous, appalling evils; the impossibility of omniscience; and the senseless concept that God is a thinking mind without a brain. He also explores controversial topics such as Intelligent Design, the power of prayer, religion without God, and whether a belief in God makes people happier and healthier. Steele’s rational, easy-to-understand prose helps readers form their own conclusions about this eternally thorny topic.


“Steele defends atheism by a comprehensive analysis of attempts to prove and disprove the existence of God. If you want to refute atheism, then you need to reply to Atheism Explained. It may well become the classic work on the subject. It is as readable as it is rigorous.”
—J.C. Lester, author of Escape from Leviathan

“A clear, concise, complete, and convincing presentation of the case for atheism. Covers essentially all the arguments for and against God, in science, philosophy, and theology, with sympathy for the believer’s views even as they are shown to be untenable.”
—Victor J. Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis

“Atheism Explained is a much better defense of atheism than the recent works by Dawkins and Hitchens.”
—James Sadowsky, S.J., Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University

“Atheism Explained is a gem. It is clear, informative, well-argued, provocative, often witty, and unfailingly interesting. David Ramsay Steele ranges over so many issues that I should be surprised if he were right about everything, but it makes for a most stimulating read. The book is in a different league from Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, and deserves much greater success.”
—Jeremy Shearmur, author of The Political Thought of Karl Popper

“A refreshingly readable introduction to the arguments for and against believing in God, and the implications atheism has—and more importantly does not have—for politics, morality, and even religion itself.”
—Susan Blackmore, author of Conversations on Consciousness

“Steele explains atheism with scholarship, cogency, wit, and clarity. He aims at the nonacademic reader, but no professional philosopher I know of could fail to be impressed.”
—Jan Narveson, author of This Is Ethical Theory

Table of Contents

Preface    ix
Mere Atheism    1
One Kind of God-and a Few Alternatives    3
Religion Can Do Without God    11
The Arguments for God    19
Paley’s Challenge to Atheism and Darwin’s Answer    21
The Objections to Darwinism    35
Did Someone Set the Dial?    59
Does God Explain Why Anything Exists?    71
Can We Prove God Exists by Pure Logic?    87
Do We Get Our Morals from God?    97
Can We Know God Directly?    107
Faith Doesn’t Have a Prayer    117
The Holy Bible Isn’t Wholly Reliable    127
Did God Compose the Quran?    153
The Arguments Against God    165
How to Prove a Negative    167
Vast Evil Shows There Is No God    179
Can Human Free Will Explain Why God Allows Vast Evil?    187
Can God Be a Person?    215
What God Can’t Do and What God Can’t Know    225
Is There a Spirit World?    241
Postscript to Part III: Bad or Feeble Arguments Against God    259
God or the Truth?    263
Atheism Is Irresistible    265
Disillusioned and Happy    279
Notes    287
Bibliography    295
Index    305