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50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists [Paperback]

Russell Blackford , Udo Schüklenk
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Oct 2009 1405190469 978-1405190466 1
50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics who offer carefully considered statements of why they are atheists. Features a truly international cast of contributors, ranging from public intellectuals such as Peter Singer, Susan Blackmore, and A.C. Grayling, novelists, such as Joe Haldeman, and heavyweight philosophers of religion, including Graham Oppy and Michael Tooley Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives Likely to have broad appeal given the current public fascination with religious issues and the reception of such books as The God Delusion and The End of Faith

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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (2 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405190469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405190466
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.1 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 579,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"For students in comparative religion this volume offers ample material and powerful reasons to make them subject most if not all religious claims to a highly critical appraisal, preparing for a constructive and public debate." (Acta Comparanda, 2011) "50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists brings together many scholars and intellectuals from a variety of academic fields who explain the reasons why they do not believe in God. Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk′s unique collection of original essays not only consists of short, digestible essays which are full of introductory presentations of both positive and negative arguments in support of atheism, but also in its candid testimonials which are more personally oriented." ( Reviews in Religion , 2011) "The international cast of contributors includes many well–known names, from a diversity of fields–notably philosophy (about a third of the writers are philosophers) science, journalism, politics and science fiction.  By no means do they agree on everything, but the unifying themes of rejection of conventional religions and acceptance of secular humanism shine through brightly.  A descriptive list of contributors and an excellent index complement the essays, many of which are accompanied by useful endnotes and references." ( Quadrant , September 2010)  "It was mostly fascinating reading, in particular, those articles that abstained from using dull polemics and cynicism. Some of the articles–most notably from Nicholas Everitt, Thomas W. Clark, Michael Shermer, Peter Tatchell, Michael Tooley, and Udo Schüklenk–can indeed be used in undergraduate courses concerned with the existence of God in philosophy, ethics, and theology. I recommend this volume especially for all those who need to grasp a general and easy introduction into atheistic reasoning." ( Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , 2010) "I recommend this volume especially for all those who need to grasp a general and easy introduction into atheistic reasoning." ( Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , 2010)“The essays in this book reveal a great concern for our human plight, a concern that is the equal of religious impulses; they raise a richness of issues that are too often ignored, including the ultimate fear of the theists that perhaps in time it may well be possible to settle the question of God’s existence. The fifty voices in this book have spoken out with more than a small amount of courage. What emerges from thinking about these essays is a realization of what human reason is up against, within ourselves.” ( Free Inquiry , August/September 2010) "Good writing and clear thinking don′t always go hand in hand. It′s a pleasure, then, to find both in a recent book about going it alone –– no deus ex machina for us, please –– titled 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists . In one volume, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk, you′ll find idiosyncratic essays by a range of atheists from science fiction authors and philosophers to scientists and activists." ( Psychology Today, Creating in Flow Blog , May 2010) "Many of the pieces in this book are full of superior contempt for the intellectual inadequacy of theism. Tatchell is forthright in his criticism of religion, but he never sneers. The essays in this book are all clearly argued, and will reassure the already faithful that they are neither daft nor deluded." ( Church Times, April 2010) "The contemporary relevance,and timeliness of this book is unsurpassed. It is ... an account of various well known non–believers [and] personal viewpoints, directed at a popular audience. Very approachable at all levels, containing a wide range of stories, anecdotes and personal statements about why each of the authors considers themselves to be a non believer. Overall, this book is well suited for a mainstream audience, interested in questioning the power that religion holds over our lives. It [also] has good references ... which will also serve to guide the reader if further information is wanted. Thus, I recommend this book to anyone (regardless of their views concerning religion) interested in understanding why different people hold certain views concerning religion." ( Metapsychology , April 2010) "By turns witty, serious, engaging and information, it is always human and deeply honest, and immensely rewarding to read." ( Times Higher Education Supplement , December 2009) "Carefully considered statements … .Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives. Likely to have broad appeal." ( Australian Atheist , November 2009) "I am strongly recommending it as a present for anyone who has an interest in atheism/theism from either side of the debate. It′s just a great read, from great authors." ( Stephen Law Blogspot , October 2009) "It’s a very good book, and I recommend it for all of us godless ones — or those who are considering abjuring the divine. It’s far more than just a collection of stories about ′How I came to give up God.′ Many of the writers describe the philosophical and empirical considerations that led them to atheism. Indeed, the book can be considered a kind of philosophical handbook for atheists." ( Why Evolution is True Blog , October 2009) "Wow! A book about atheism and it’s not written by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett or Harris! So this book is welcome partly because it helps break that knee–jerk reaction. But it’s also welcome because many of its contributors advance interesting ideas. There’s plenty to choose from. And one advantage of a collection like this is that you can dip into it wherever you want. There is something for everyone. And there is the opportunity to discover new ideas." ( Open Parachute , October 2009) "For many who have spent some time involved in any form of engagement in these matters, the names should appear familiar: from the great AC Grayling to the revolutionary Maryam Namazie. Finally, in one book we can hear their stories – if not about themselves, then about the aspects of religion or lack thereof they find most important. If all these contributors were speakers at a convention, it would be sold out many times over." ( Butterflies and Wheels , October 2009) "In their excellent collection of essays exploring and defending the philosophical stance of atheism, Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk had an inclusive vision. Contributors to the book range from those with science–fiction backgrounds to modern–day philosophy." ( Kirkus Reviews , October 2009) "In more than 50 brief statements organized by Blackford and philosopher Schüklenk ... contributors share views—their routes toward nonbelief and their feelings about the place of religion in the world ... including James (the Amazing) Randi, a well–known magician and debunker of spurious psychic phenomena. Considering the popularity of Richard Dawkins′s The God Delusion , Christopher Hitchens′s God Is Not Great , and Sam Harris′s The End of Faith , [these] memoirs and observations will be of interest to disbelievers." ( Library Journal , October 2009)

From the Back Cover

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a unique and thought–provoking collection of original essays that address personal disbelief in a higher power . Drawn from an international cast of professionals in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics, contributors offer carefully considered statements of why they reject the idea of a deity governing the universe and human affairs. Several essays also address such issues as the social role of religion and its alternatives. The responses feature a stunning diversity of viewpoints and tone, ranging from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal — at times even whimsical — accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives. Whether you′re a believer or not, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists offers an intellectually stimulating journey into the possibilities for rational and reasonable people everywhere to live without the crutch of religion.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air 9 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is good to see a selection of people explaining why they do not believe in God. It is even better to read why so many people do not NEED to believe in God.
Well written and diverse, this book explains the reasons behind people's non-belief, their struggles with faith when they had it and how not believing in a deity or having to live by doctrines has freed their minds and allowed them to live life for its own sake rather than for any eternal reward or pat on the back. It is interesting to read how much thought goes into not believing in something; reason and rationality take over from fear and superstition. They explain that finding meaning in their lives comes through personal endeavours; how morality comes from being good for "goodness sake".
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the reasoning behind the philosophy of standing on one's own two feet, facing the music and enjoying the wonders of life, the planet and the Cosmos for what it actually is rather than the nightmare Religion would have us believe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read 3 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All the essays seem to come from the heart. Some are very informative, one example is Michael Shermer's. Others give accounts of 'personal enlightenment' and the life changing experience after shaking off the dogma of religion. As some essays are quite short, they are perfect if you have only a few minutes free. I picked up quite a few new quotes, (cosmic sky-daddy) and learnt quite a bit. It is also very useful to have brief summaries of all the contributors, as this book has.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Varied and of immense interest! 18 Nov 2009
I've never really thought about God, growing up and being raised in a secular household, with parents who weren't interested in the topic of religion. From a young age religion always seemed odd, I couldn't understand why all the excitment. I was a proud, self claimed Atheist (obviously my parents helped with this word) by the age of 8! The Natural World was a billion times more fun, I could touch, taste, hear, smell and see it! Religion always seemed a bit lacking and absent.

Moving onto the review.....
So, being a Dawkins fan I had to read the God Delusion and this opened up a whole new world of discovery for me and I couldn't get enough books that discussed the topic of Atheism. I'm very proud of my postion in life and wear my Atheist label with complete happiness and even more pride!

I stubbled across this book while searching for other books on the topic of atheism. I would say it's a lovely book with stories covering the topic from many different angles. Some are personal, others are scientific or philsophical. From 50 voices there were only 2 I wasn't fond of and I don't have the book in front of me to tell you who they are.
This I feel falls neatly between the Portable Atheist (Which oddly isn't very portable, it's a huge book) and the newly published Atheist Guide to Christmas (which is jolly good fun to read).
In summary, an enjoyable read with plenty of interest and food for thought....get it today!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very readable 17 Oct 2010
i am giving this a top 5 stars, not because the arguments are new and original (they are good, but nothing cutting edge) but because this is the sort of book you can pick up and put down with ease. you don't have to read it straight through, but can read the odd essay here and there. there are some lovely personal touches and stories, and some perfectly clear approaches to unbelief.

it is nice, after reading so much for and against theism, when we can detach ourselves from answers of logical possibility for arguments such as the problem of evil, and see them as real life, emotional issues.

an eclectic mix; varied and well written.

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Voices of Disbelief 3 Oct 2010
Interesting and with a few good arguments, but generally the book gives the impresson that it is a compilation of articles written for a vareity of different publications. They do confirm that, universally, we are influenced by the propaganda handed to us by our peers in our early years. The less gullible go off and investigatre whilst the gullible just comply. More pieces, all of shorter length, might have produced a more informative result.
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