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50 Great Myths about Atheism

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 What is Atheism? 2 Why Bother About Myths? 4 Drawing the Lines 5 Do These Myths Actually Exist? 6 How Did We Decide What Myths are Worth Investigating? 6 Are We Picking Easy Targets? 7 Have We Defeated Theism? 7 1 What is Atheism? 9 Myth 1 Atheism is Just Another Type of Religion 9 Myth 2 But the Courts Recognize Atheism as a Religion 12 Myth 3 Atheists Believe in God but are in Denial 14 Myth 4 Atheists are Certain There is No God 18 Myth 5 Atheists Hate or are Angry with God 21 Myth 6 Atheism is a Rebellion Against God s Authority 24 Myth 7 Atheists See No Good in Religion 27 Myth 8 No Atheist Believes in Anything Supernatural 28 Myth 9 It Makes No Sense for an Atheist to Practice Any Kind of Religion 29 Myth 10 Atheists Worship False Gods (Satan, Money, Materialism, etc.) 31 2 Atheist Living 34 Myth 11 Atheism Robs Life of Meaning and Purpose 34 Myth 12 Atheism is Depressing 40 Myth 13 Atheists Have No Sense of Humor 42 Myth 14 Atheists Don t Appreciate Some of the Greatest Works of Art 45 Myth 15 There is no Christmas in Atheist Families 47 Myth 16 Atheists Don t Appreciate the Beauty and Perfection of God s Creation 49 Myth 17 Atheists Fear Death (More than Others) 51 Myth 18 Atheists Turn to God When Death is Near 54 Myth 19 There are no Atheists in Foxholes 56 3 Atheism, Ethics, and the Soul 59 Myth 20 Without God There is No Morality 59 Myth 21 Atheists are Moral Relativists 66 Myth 22 Atheists Don t Give to Charity 70 Myth 23 Atheists Deny the Sanctity of Human Life 74 Myth 24 If There is No God We are Soulless Creatures 76 4 Name Calling 79 Myth 25 Atheists are all Communists, Left-Wing, Liberal... 79 Myth 26 Atheists Can t be Trusted 83 Myth 27 Many Atrocities Have Been Committed in the Name of Atheism 85 Myth 28 Adolf Hitler was an Atheist 90 Myth 29 Atheists Give a Free Pass to Non-Christian Religions 95 5 Horrible, Strident Atheists 99 Myth 30 Atheists are Arrogant 99 Myth 31 Atheists are Intolerant 103 Myth 32 Atheists Want to Ban Teaching Religion to Children 107 Myth 33 Atheists Want to Strip People of their Beliefs 110 Myth 34 Atheists Want to Ban Religion from the Public Square 111 Myth 35 Atheists Don t Understand Moderate Religion 114 Myth 36 We Should Fear a Fundamentalist or Militant Atheism 119 Myth 37 Atheists are to Blame for Religious Fundamentalism 125 6 Faith and Reason 131 Myth 38 Atheists Don t Understand the Nature of Faith 131 Myth 39 Atheism Depends on Faith, Just the Same as Religion 138 Myth 40 Atheism is Self-refuting, as Rational Argument Presumes the Existence of God 142 7 Religion and Science 146 Myth 41 There is No Conflict Between Religion and Science 146 Myth 42 Atheists Confuse Two Forms of Naturalism 149 Myth 43 Atheism Implies Scientism 153 Myth 44 Evolutionary Theory is a Form of Atheistic Religion 157 Myth 45 Albert Einstein Professed a Belief in God 160 Myth 46 Atheists Can t Explain Miracles 164 Myth 47 Atheists Can t Explain the Resurrection 171 8 No Future for Atheism? 176 Myth 48 Atheism is a Bad Bet (Pascal s Wager) 176 Myth 49 Atheism is Only for an Educated Elite 180 Myth 50 Atheism is Doomed in a Postsecular Age 182 9 The Rise of Modern Atheism 187 A Very Short History of Atheism 187 Beginning Atheism 189 How Did We Become Secular? 192 Classic Theistic Arguments 197 Religion and Science Conflicting or Compatible? 209 Conclusion the Reasonableness of Atheism 234 International Atheist and Related Organizations 236 References 242 Index 261

About the Author

Russell Blackford is Conjoint Lecturer in the School ofHumanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle,Australia. A renowned philosopher, literary critic, author andcommentator on a range of topics including legal and politicalphilosophy, philosophy of religion, meta-ethics, and philosophicalbioethics, he is a prolific essayist and author whose works includeFreedom of Religion and the Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell,2012). Dr Blackford is editor-in-chief of the Journal ofEvolution and Technology. Udo Schuklenk is Professor of Philosophy atQueen s University, Canada, where he holds the OntarioResearch Chair in Bioethics. A renowned bioethicist, he is jointeditor-in-chief of the international journals Bioethics andDeveloping World Bioethics. A prolific author and editor, hehas produced 7 books and published more than 130 articles ininternational journals and anthologies, mostly on public healthethics, research ethics and end-of-life issues. He recentlychaired an international expert panel drafting a landmarkreport on end-of-life care on behalf of the Royal Society ofCanada.


Overall, Blackford and Schu klenk s work is avaluable contribution to the debate between believers andnon-believers. (Journal of ContemporaryReligion, 1 August 2014) Review appeared in Times Higher Education - 2 January 2014 I recommend it as useful reading both to those who arefreethinkers (whatever they call themselves, be it atheists,agnostics or secularists) and to "believers", particularly thehard-core religious ones, though it might prove "heavy-going" forthem at times, and they are unlikely to be able to suspend beliefand permit scepticism to intrude into their "blindfaith". (New Nurturing Potential, 1 September2013) "I am happy to report that Blackford and Schuklenk scollaboration has given us an intellectually rigorous yetcompositionally relaxed book. It is clearly written, clear-headed,and amusing on occasion (especially with the inclusion of comicsfrom the Jesus & Mo website). It is simply organized, as thetitle indicates, with the authors taking on the 50 Myths one byone." (Neworld Review, Vol 6. No. 46)

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