Atheism: A Philosophical Justification
by Francois Tremblay
Author : Michael Martin
Temple University Press, ISBN 0-87722-642-3
% of the book on strong-atheism : 50%
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Atheism: A Philosophical Justification is a technical book on the main arguments for all the facets of the god-question. Approximately one-third of Martin’s book is dedicated to positive atheism, from page 281 to 452.
Chapter 11 (p281 to 285) discusses whether negative atheism is sufficient to establish positive atheism.
Chapter 12 (p287 to 316) explains many incoherency arguments, including between omniscience and omnipotence, between omniscience and indexical statements (first-person formulations), the incompleteness of omniscience, divine free will and omniscience, divine free will and moral perfection, and the contradictions inherent to various definitions of omnipotence.
Chapter 13 (p317 to 333) examines atheistic teleological arguments, in the form of a number of inductive arguments from the known origins of the entities in the universe, concluding that divine creation is the least likely possibility given what we already know.
Chapter 14 (p334 to 361) explains various formulations of the Problem of Evil, answering objections about the existence of evil.
Chapter 15 (p363 to 391) examines the Free Will Theodicy. It defines it, refutes its premise of contracausal free will, defeats the relevance of contracausal free will, shows that the arguments on the worth of contracausal free will are unconvincing, shows that free will and universal good are not contradictory, dispels theological objections, and shows that a god must be responsible for human action.
Chapter 16 (p393 to 412) dispels objections against natural evil, including the idea that Satan created evil, that the existence of evil is necessary in order for human beings to make free choices, and that evil is a necessary consequence of natural law.
Chapter 17 (p413 to 435) discusses the Soul Making Theodicy, the defense that evil exists in order for humans to develop moral character, and refutes the more specific position that excessive evil is necessary in order to develop moral character.
In addition to these chapters, Martin discusses noncognitivism in detail in chapter 2, although he commits some basic mistakes (failing to distinguish words that designate hypothesis from words that designate actual existants). Nevertheless, he does give space to Nielsen’s critique in particular, as well as Swinburne’s attempts to refute the use of verifiability theory against religious language.
Due to its extensive and technical nature, this book is highly recommended to any serious student of atheism interested in philosophy. Furthermore, the discussion of strong-atheistic arguments is broad, clear and lucid. While Martin’s lack of a firm theory of meaning to underline his noncognitivism is dissapointing, Atheism : A Philosophical Justification is a landmark in the history of strong-atheism in the literature as well.
“Religious experiences are like those induced by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and sleep deprivation: They tell no uniform or coherent story, and there is no plausible theory to account for discrepancies among them.” -Michael Martin
Last updated: 01/01/05