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Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion Paperback – 5 Sep 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (5 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415093384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415093385
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 429,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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..". clear, honest and fairminded; it makes a good introduction, not just to the question of God, but to metaphysics in general."-"Donald Cupitt, Emmanuel College, Cambridge ..."Arguing for Atheism is the best recent introduction to the philosophy of religion. Le Poidevin writes in a clear and engaging manner withou

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
Written for use as a textbook, Arguing for Atheism is an easy book to digest. It goes straight to the point and examines the traditional arguments for god's existence and proceeds to show why they fail. He also attempts to formulate a version of the argument from evil though I find it a bit questionable (a better formulation can be found in Theodore Drange's Nonbelief and Evil). Another criticism would be his use of complex metaphysical ideas(especially on time and causation). Nevertheless, the book succeeds in making atheism approachable to the general reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sarah4444 on 13 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. It is very well written, clear and conscise. It offers some new and very interesting ideas to old debates, which draw on many key concepts in metaphysics. I would highly recommend this book to any undergraduate student.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on 23 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Le Poidevin is a great writer, offering a very fair investigation of the key arguments in Philosophy of Religion. Fast Dispatch and great condition edition.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Wood on 15 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Not so much a review of the book itself, which is actually very well written for what it's attempting to do, but of its primary use on the Leeds University Philosophy course. Listing a heavily weighted argument for atheism on a Philosophy of Religion course makes perfect sense and is absolutely fine. However setting such a text as the *main course* reading for such a module is irresponsible, and to my mind not particularly conducive to proper learning.
Just for the record im not a theist, so id be writing exactly the same if this book was a heavily slanted argument in favour of God. The point is however, a religious philosophy course should always aim to give the student a fair and balanced *overview* of both the theistic and atheistic positions. Such a course should not be used as a opportunity for lecturer to disseminate his or her personal views on the subject to the point of almost completely drowning out all other voices.

As i said - as a book in its own right this is perfectly acceptable stuff. But not for an introductory module.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Arguing for Atheism 15 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an introduction to philosophy of religion written by an atheist. Le Poidevin manages to discuss a number of technical metaphysical issues in a highly readable way, which is exactly what we would hope to find in a college textbook such as this. My only criticism of Arguing for Atheism concerns what Le Poidevin did not address. His book contains nothing on miracles or religious experience, nor any reference to any of the new arguments for atheism, including Michael
Martin's atheistic teleological argument or Quentin Smith's atheistic cosmological argument (even though the book comes with an endorsement by
Smith). Indeed, Le Poidevin seems unaware of some very influential atheist philosophers, like Michael Martin and Antony Flew. Still, Arguing for Atheism is an outstanding atheist introduction to philosophy of religion that is well worth purchasing. -- Jeffery Jay Lowder
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant critique of theism 25 Feb. 2001
By Eric Breitenstein - Published on
Format: Paperback
Robin Le Poidevin has written one of the best books defending atheism. He fairly and accurately considers his opponent's arguments, yet he still goes through meticulously and points out the flaws in each one.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one should be the most interesting to the atheist. Poidevin discusses theistic explanations, like the cosmological and teleological arguments, and finds them to be wanting. His discussion is fair and balanced, and he takes interesting approaches to dealing with them (for example, his discussion of modal realism in regards to the ontological argument).
In part two Poidevin attempts to make arguments *for* atheism, instead of simply refuting theistic claims. This section may appeal less to the atheist and theist than to someone who is still "unsure." I found his treatment of the problem of evil (AE) to be interesting, yet he claims that it is "the most powerful argument for atheism," which is a bit of an overstatement. At best, AE offers support to an atheist, but it is not the knock-down argument Poidevin makes it out to be. His other argument "for" atheism is really just pointing out the problems with theistic ethics. He states the Euthyphro dilemma, then discusses the ethics in much greater depth. I won't go into it here, but although his discussion was interesting, I am not sure it is really an argument "for" atheism.
Part three will probably not interest the atheist all, but the theist may find it more interesting than parts 1 or 2. As an atheist, I found all 3 parts to be interesting, and part 3 especially so for its treatment of difficult issues. Part three asks if religion may have pragmatic value (the answer is yes), and if so, can that be salvaged by the atheist (Poidevin's answer again is yes). Part three also deals with the issues of death and whether we can have meaningful discourse about God at all. All in all, I found part 3 the most interesting because it deals with issues that most theists find more important than the newest statement of the teleological argument: Should the atheist fear death? How can the atheist salvage the comfort of religion from the fact that god is a fiction? etc. These issues often don't appeal to the person who already is an atheist, but Poidevin's treatment of them shows his breadth of understanding about issues that the atheist faces.
One final note: This book is not extremely difficult, but I do not agree with another reviewer here that said it is accessible to the non-philosopher. If you've never read any philosophy before, you will probably find this at least minimally difficult. Poidevin defines terms beforehand, and he restates things often enough to keep most people from getting lost, but the preface of the book states that it is written for a "second or third year undergraduate philosophy of religion or metaphysics course." Some background in philosophy will make this book more enjoyable and you'll get more out of it.
All in all, this is so far the best book arguing for atheism that I have ever read. It deals with issues that are important to both atheists and theists, and Poidevin treats his opponents with fairness. This text is simply a must have for anyone interested in the philosophy of religion.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An unbiased, analytic yet devastating approach to theism 19 April 1998
By M. R. Bas - Published on
Format: Hardcover
With the great knowledge about the philosophy of religion that the author has, he shows how to dissect generally accepted theistic doctrines and ways of thinking that will eventually lead to theism. This Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Leeds approaches all the common and basic theistic premises in a very reasonable way, thereby not immediately taking the stand of the atheist, but leaving theistic questions multi-answerable at first. Yet, after having viewed theistic premises with the eye of the honest philosopher, the only solution for such philosophical problems will turn out to be a non-theistic one. With some humour here and there, and with fair and honest arguments for atheism the book will refute theism in a way that treats theistic conceptions in a respectful way, even though theism eventually will seem to be non-true. Robin Le Poidevin will demonstrate a logical succession of strategies that will hollow out theism step by step. Every chapter is to be considered an outstanding, analytic step towards total disproval of theism. After having dissected and consequently refuted theism in all its forms 'the fair philosopher' offers the possibly disillusioned ex-theist a way to regain the feelings and emotions that came about when practicing religion. 'Religion without God' therefore, will be the last chapter, where Le Poidevin stresses the fact that God is a fiction, but one can also project one's religious needs onto other things. This last chapter will not appeal to the person who has been an atheist all of his life, but I find it important to mention this last chapter because it stresses Le Poidevin's integrous fashion of refuting atheism; fair, down-to-earth and without a biased attitude towards theism whilst refuting this particular perception of existence totally. When one reads the book one might be distracted by the elaborate methods of viewing a premise and later on refuting it. The examples and verbal illustrations might seem redundant, but every chapter has a summary in which this chapter's contence will be repeated more in a straight forward way. I read this book quite often; step by step. It is outstanding, very nice to read, and I consider it the best atheistic book that I have yet purchased, which was more than one year ago.
36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A book of paradoxes 6 Jun. 2001
By Jason A. Beyer - Published on
Format: Paperback
*Arguing for Atheism* is a strange book. The title suggests that the book is an attempt to argue for the truth of atheism. Its subtitle, *An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion* suggests that it is meant to introduce the reader to issues in the philosophy of religion. To the book's credit, it attempts to do both, but as a result, it does neither adequately.
First for the title. This book is not *really* an argument for atheism. Atheism is the denial of God's existence. Le Poidevin does not really do this. In part 3 of the book, he defends an instrumentalist view of religion. This is fine and dandy, but given his view that religion is analogous to involving oneself in a work of fiction, Le Poidevin should not be an atheist. If his instrumentalism about religion is correct, then "God does not exist" is no more a candidate for literal truth or falsity than "God exists". (In his defense, Le Poidevin is not the first to make this error. Antony Flew has claimed both that God-talk is meaningless and that God does not exist.) Le Poidevin is really arguing for a God-less religion akin to Don Cupitt, whose work he discusses. If Le Poidevin is an atheist, he is an atheist in the biblical sense of one who denies God in his heart.
As for his arguments for "atheism", I find that most of them move way too quickly. He spends much of the chapter on evil discussing why the theist must adopt libertarian free will; very little time is actually spent on using evil as an argument for atheism. His discussion of how evolution explains apparent design is only one paragraph long, and no mention is made of the importance of "mis-design". Focusing here will actually allow him to argue *for* atheism rather than *against* theism. In fact, his arguments *for* atheism (as the title suggests) are primarily rejections of theistic arguments. His only real sustained attempt to argue for atheism is perhaps the rather befuddling chapter "Does the Universe Have a Purpose?" where he never does come to a clear conclusion.
I called *Arguing for Atheism* a "book of paradoxes" for several reasons: it never does argue *for* atheism, and it doesn't really argue for *atheism*. But perhaps the biggest paradox is the way in which it simultaneously moves rapidly over a great deal of territory and follows this up with interesting and insightful metaphysical analysis. His discussions of chance (and why we can't assign probabilities to such things as the fundamental constants being what they are) and different theories of time (in his discussion of the rationality of fearing death) show the intellectual sophistication that Le Poidevin needs to make the arguments he does successful, but in a way that decreases the book's suitability as an introduction. (He often seems to assume enough familiarity with basic issues in metaphysics that he can move rather quickly through difficult theories and concepts--I'm not sure the glossary is enough to make up for this.)In general, Le Poidevin both moves too quickly at timesfor his book to be a sustained defense of atheism, and too deeply at times for it to serve as an introduction.
Le Poidevin does, however, raise serious issues and presents interseting and often insightful criticisms of arguments for theism; and these stand as the redeeming features of this book. (And sometimes a book is better measured by the questions it raises than by the answers it gives.) He gives us a fair deal of meat on which to chew; I think, however, that it would have been a better book had he himself chewed a bit longer. I suspect that a future book where he dealt with these issues in more depth would be excellent.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
An exemplary text on atheism 11 Dec. 2004
By James Arvo - Published on
Format: Paperback
In his book "Arguing for Atheism", Le Poidevin has accomplished what few authors have succeeded in; he has written a powerful but thoroughly respectful criticism of theology. This is far and away the finest book I have ever read on atheism. Le Poidevin introduces each theistic argument as fairly and thoroughly as possible, often overlooking inconsequential flaws, and even offering modified arguments that overcome such flaws. He then proceeds to examine each argument in depth, exposing both valid points and flaws. As the title of the book suggests, however, precious few theistic arguments are found to withstand scrutiny.

What sets this book apart from other books that critically examine theology is that Le Poidevin clearly has no interest in securing cheap victories over ill-conceived apologetics; rather, his aim is to examine the most cogent theistic arguments that can be constructed, even if he must lend a hand in bolstering them, which he does with humility and earnestness.

This book is a model of how apologetics and its criticism ought to be conducted. I wish more authors on both sides of the debate would follow his lead. This is the book I most wish that religionists would read and atheists would emulate, both for its penetrating criticism and for its exemplary tone.
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