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August 26, 2011

Added Dostoevsky Did Say It: A Response to David E. Cortesi (2011) by Andrei I. Volkov to the Why Should Atheists Be Moral? and Without God, What Grounds Right and Wrong? pages under Morality and Atheism in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

According to David E. Cortesi, Fyodor Dostoevsky never used the phrase "If God does not exist, everything is permitted" in his classic novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880). However, the phrase appears word for word in Part 4, Book 11, Chapter 4 of the novel. Various translations into English do differ in minor details, and it is not surprising that the original wording has been lost in double translations, as when Jean-Paul Sartre's translation from Russian to French is in turn translated from French to English. But contra Cortesi, the phrase is not just a paraphrase of what Dostoevsky's character Ivan Karamazov says, though the common omission of mention of a future life at least deserves an ellipsis. A more important question is whether either Dostoevsky himself or the Ivan Karamazov character unequivocally endorsed the sentiment that the phrase captures, and here there is abundant evidence from the text that they did not.

August 18, 2011

New in the Kiosk: Beyond Gilgamesh and Camus: Our Open-ended Odyssey (2011) by Mike Chege

We humans have long been haunted by the awareness of our own mortality. In the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, the alewife Siduri warns Gilgamesh that his quest for eternal life is certain to end in failure. In a similar vein to Siduri, Albert Camus the famous French-Algerian existentialist thinker and author, depicted human existence as a futile labour of Sisyphus. In our view, the philosophy of Siduri and Camus is a philosophy of despair and surrender which is based on a view of human existence as a closed circle. We believe that the human journey is an open-ended and not a closed-ended affair, and that there's a good chance that the fate of our species lies not in the hands of the gods but in our own hands!

August 13, 2011

New in the Bookstore: The End of Christianity (2011) by John W. Loftus

In this successor volume to his critically acclaimed first anthology, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, John Loftus—a former minister and now a leading atheist spokesperson—has assembled a stellar group of respected scholars to continue the critique of Christianity begun in the first volume. The contributors include Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, Keith Parsons, David Eller, and others. Loftus is the author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity. Taken together, the Loftus trilogy poses formidable challenges to claims for the rationality of the Christian faith.


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