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The Cambridge Companion to Atheism

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism


In this volume, eighteen of the world’s leading experts in their fields present original essays, relevant to both philosophy and religion, on various aspects of atheism: its history (both ancient and modern) defense, and implications. The topic is examined in terms of its implications for a wide range of disciplines including philosophy, religion, feminism, postmodernism, sociology, and psychology. In its defense, both classical and contemporary theistic arguments are criticized. The argument from evil and impossibility arguments, along with a nonreligious basis for morality, are defended. These essays give a broad understanding of atheism and a lucid introduction to this controversial topic.


  • Jan Bremmer
  • Gavin Hyman
  • Phil Zuckerman
  • William Lane Craig
  • Richard Gale
  • Keith Parsons
  • Evan Fales
  • Daniel Dennett
  • David Brink
  • Andrea Weisberger
  • Quentin Smith
  • Patrick Grim
  • Michael Martin
  • Christine Overall
  • Steven Gey
  • John Caputo
  • Stewart Guthrie
  • Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi

Table of Contents

Contributors page ix
Preface xiii
Glossary xv
General Introduction xv
Part I Background  
1   Atheism in Antiquity:  Jan N. Bremmer 11
2   Atheism in Modern History:  Gavin Hyman 27
3   Atheism: Contemporary Numbers and Patterns:  Phil Zuckerman 47
Part II The Case against Theism  
4   Theistic Critiques of Atheism:  William Lane Craig 69
5   The Failure of Classical Theistic Arguments:  Richard M. Gale 86
6   Some Contemporary Theistic Arguments:  Keith Parsons 102
7   Naturalism and Physicalism:  Evan Fales 118
8   Atheism and Evolution:  Daniel C. Dennett 135
9   The Autonomy of Ethics:  David O. Brink 149
10   The Argument from Evil:  Andrea M. Weisberger 166
11   Kalam Cosmological Arguments for Atheism:  Quentin Smith 182
12   Impossibility Arguments:  Patrick Grim 199
Part III Implications  
13   Atheism and Religion:  Michael Martin 217
14   Feminism and Atheism:  Christine Overall 233
15   Atheism and the Freedom of Religion:  Steven G. Gey 250
16   Atheism, A/theology, and the Postmodern Condition:  John D. Caputo 267
17   Anthropological Theories of Religion:  Stewart E. Guthrie 283
18   Atheists: A Psychological Profile:  Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi 300
Index 319


“This timely volume appears in the midst of what many see as a resurgence of interest in and enthusiasm for atheism, a resurgence that may result from a reaction to resurgent religious fundamentalism at home and abroad … the book does contain some resources that scholars will find valuable, and its introductory-level approach is appropriate given the book’s aims.”
— Stephen Maitzen; Chair of the Research Ethics Board, Acadia University

“If we want to understand atheism, The Cambridge Companion to Atheism—a collection of essays to guide students of philosophy and theology—is a good place to start.”
Church Times

“This is really a superb introduction to atheism. What gets my attention is that it includes a number of essays that contextualize atheism in its particular historical instances.”
— Peter D. Glickenhaus

“I recently read this superb introductory book to atheism. I have read more-sophisticated books on this subject, but i think that this book is the most appropriate for the general reader who wants to be introduced to what atheism represents.”
— Nikolaos Stathopoulos

“The theism/atheism dialogue in recent years generates a good deal more heat than light. Too frequently, champions of either position seem to think that polemics trumps rational analysis. The authors in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism refuse to treat the issue as if it were a high school debate, however. Their reasoning for the most part is rigorous and civil. That’s why the collection, edited by philosopher Michael Martin (a long-time and distinguished advocate of atheism), is a genuine contribution to the conversation.”
— Kerry Walters

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