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An Enlightened Philosophy: Can an Atheist Believe Anything? by [Crocker, Geoff]
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An Enlightened Philosophy: Can an Atheist Believe Anything? Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Geoff Crocker seeks to steer a pathway between traditional theistic religion and other non-rationalistic approaches whilst refusing to settle for the nihilism and amorality implicit in much postmodern culture and thought. He sees usefulness in classical religious myths to augment a pure rationalism, providing enrichment and sustenance to the human search for value and ethics. His criticisms of the Church may be bruising for some Christians to read, but his argument also cuts in an opposite direction to challenge a value-free postmodernism or neo-rationalism and their application in 'the Market' and popular attitudes to moral discourse. Here is a new and clear voice in popular philosophy which deserves a hearing by religious and non-religious readers seeking to make sense of our world today. --(Paul Roberts,Dean of Non-residential Training, St Michael's College, Llandaff, Cardiff)

Geoff Crocker brings a fresh voice to the God debate, arguing that Biblical mythology and critical thinking need not be enemies. Eloquent and persuasive --(David Boulton,Author of The Trouble with God and Who on Earth was Jesus?)

Geoff Crocker brings a fresh voice to the God debate, arguing that Biblical mythology and critical thinking need not be enemies. Eloquent and persuasive --(David Boulton,Author of The Trouble with God and Who on Earth was Jesus?)

About the Author

Geoff Crocker studied economics and philosophy, and has worked extensively advising multinational clients on industrial strategy. He speaks at international conferences on issues of faith and values. He lives in the UK.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3294 KB
  • Print Length: 133 pages
  • Publisher: John Hunt Publishing (25 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FAYAJ0W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,639,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An Enlightened Philosophy - Can an Atheist Believe Anything?
Geoff Crocker's extensive range of reading and his breadth of thinking are well evidenced in this engaging book. He is concerned about the moral nihilism within a reductionist atheistic outlook, which focuses on physical explanations of the universe and of human life within it. In this outlook, he detects a strong tendency towards consumerism, as the chief goal of both the market and of human aspirations. He doubts whether there is a place for morality in such world view.
He thinks it is possible to build a bridge between a religion such as Christianity and the secular atheism which he considers has such a strong hold on many people in western societies. He believes that the Bible has a rich pool of stories, which if stripped of their theological dimension, can provide people, in 21st century, with moral examples that are both challenging and inspiring. He thinks that these resources could fill the moral vacuum in an atheistic vision for life. Not everyone will agree that atheists give no recognition to moral values.
In his scientific and sociological overviews, he raises the question whether we have any freedom to make choices or whether we are totally determined in all our decisions and actions. He inclines towards thinking that we have some freedom, but of a very limited nature. Is he right? Or is the question whether human beings have freedom impossible to decide on and therefore an area of uncertainty that is part of what it means to live out a human life?
If it could be proved that there is no freedom, then presumably we cannot be held morally responsible for our motives, intentions and actions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know Geoff Crocker well. He has a superior intellect and is superior. I am dyslexic and 62 so I only got a few pages into the book. I found this book fascinating in so much as it appeals to those with a superior intellect. My faith is in myself and not even God can forgive my sins I have to live with my sins and have to do recompense when and where I can. Sadly this douses nothing to benefit our fellow man other than feed the ego of the likes of Geoff I highly recommend this book for that reason.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and provoking contribution to the debate 15 April 2013
By Joanna H. Seddon - Published on Amazon.com
Geoff Crocker has written an account that is both personal and practical. The dilemma of how to reconcile human suffering with the existence of God is put forwards in the simplest,most timeless terms. He then takes us on a journey of attitudes towards this dilemma through the ages,tracing a growing rift between humanity and religion, from the enlightenment up to the militant atheism of Dawkins and Hitchen. He shows very clearly how the church's belief systems have become increasingly distant, not only from intellectual life, but from the 'man in the street's' view of accepted behavior. Yet, while ending up on the side of the atheists, he finds no sense either in a life lacking moral values. He seeks for endorsement in everything from neurology, to justice, love, the market, social institutions and myth and ends up on a note of hope for the possibility of reconciling secular and religious values. This is an enjoyable and a timely book. His argument is for the values of religion shorn of the dogma of religion,values which are innate in almost all human societies, though justified in different ways. This is basically the idea that everyone has a responsibility to live his life well, which includes ethical responsibilities to oneself and to others. His book is a useful contribution to a growing debate and call for values in a godless society. Geoff could take his argument for the objectivity of morality further, as Ronald Dworkin does in his forthcoming book Relgion without God, a first chapter of which was just published in the New York Review Books. Geoff is perhaps too concerned with the 'divine' in values whether attributed to a god or to man, and with the potential for reconciling the two. Atheism is treated as almost an alternative religion. He spends less time on the concept of virtue, set apart from any kind of divinity. He also devotes a geat deal of attention to personal values, much less to the other powerful argument for religion, the wonder and sublimity of the universe and nature. It is this which has caused many scientists to contend that values are intrinsic to nature and it behoves us to follow them as part of the natural order of things. A thoughtful and provoking book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book which raises questions in the critical mind 18 Oct. 2012
By Andrew Furlong - Published on Amazon.com
An Enlightened Philosophy - Can an Atheist Believe Anything?
Geoff Crocker's extensive range of reading and his breadth of thinking are well evidenced in this engaging book. He is concerned about the moral nihilism within a reductionist atheistic outlook, which focuses on physical explanations of the universe and of human life within it. In this outlook, he detects a strong tendency towards consumerism, as the chief goal of both the market and of human aspirations. He doubts whether there is a place for morality in such world view.
He thinks it is possible to build a bridge between a religion such as Christianity and the secular atheism which he considers has such a strong hold on many people in western societies. He believes that the Bible has a rich pool of stories, which if stripped of their theological dimension, can provide people, in 21st century, with moral examples that are both challenging and inspiring. He thinks that these resources could fill the moral vacuum in an atheistic vision for life. Not everyone will agree that atheists give no recognition to moral values.
In his scientific and sociological overviews, he raises the question whether we have any freedom to make choices or whether we are totally determined in all our decisions and actions. He inclines towards thinking that we have some freedom, but of a very limited nature. Is he right? Or is the question whether human beings have freedom impossible to decide on and therefore an area of uncertainty that is part of what it means to live out a human life?
If it could be proved that there is no freedom, then presumably we cannot be held morally responsible for our motives, intentions and actions. On the other hand, if we cannot prove that we have freedom, what is the meaning of holding people morally accountable for their actions? What would count as proof in these instances?
Whether one believes in God or not, on what are moral virtues based? Why is it right to do good, pursue justice and show love? Can we or can we not prove it is right to do these things? Is this another area of human life in which we live with mystery and uncertainty? Maybe all we can say is that we have made a commitment, which we believe we have the freedom to make, to try to do good, believing that this is the right way in which to try to live?
Perhaps this book might have drawn clearer distinctions between believing and knowing, and might have brought out more clearly the inescapable dimension of uncertainty which is part and parcel of each human life. Such uncertainty surely relates to not knowing whether the atheist or the theist is correct in their beliefs about what is the truth about the universe. Does the universe exhaust all of life's meaning or is there another dimension which will complete life's meaning?
Undoubtedly, one of the values of this book is the number of questions it raises in the critical mind.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflective, Creative yet not Persuasive 3 Oct. 2012
By Jfarris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In a clear and engaging manner Geoff Crocker presents a case for religion as myth. Crocker reflectively works through the history of the enlightenment to the modern church with the attempt to bring about some synthesis to religious thought and everything else. Philosophically, this is a big-picture book not one consumed with the minutia. Yet, along the way the author displays a facility with other disciplines and detail that serve to furnish some sort of foundation for his overarching theory of the world. Crocker is adept at working through the history of thought, philosophy of mind, pop-level science, and phenomenology. More specifically, his defense is of atheism and humanism con-joined - the belief that humans are ultimate and that there is no God except God as myth or as that which is mind-dependent. In fact God is an endogenous reality meaning that he is created from within the particular organism - that his the human organism. Let me make just three positive points about the book and offer some very brief criticism.

First, Geoff Crocker's writing is clear and smooth. His prose make the reading easy and light. Also, his writing gives the sense of unity throughout the book. This aspect of the book is much appreciated. He offers numerous examples and illustrations to carry the reader along. Second, I found the book to be very thoughtful and reflective. In contrast to other books that are out there written by the so-called New Atheists or those following in a similar vein Geoff Crocker's work is distinct in that he has a greater facility with other disciplines outside of the hard/empirical sciences. His is not only a criticism of Christianity or theism, but a constructive synthesis unlike much literature coming out of new atheism. Third, I thought it was very impressive how Crocker was able to utlize both analytic and continental philosophy in his constructive synthesis. This is unusual for a philosopher to draw from both philosophical traditions, but Crocker seems to be aware of the value in both traditions when considering a reality and an overall world and life view. In these ways, An Enlightened Philosophy is highly recommended, but there are some negatives worth mentioning. I will only mention two.

The first criticiam is that he merely assumes Darwinian evolution. This is problematic for several reasons. First, Crocker does not spell out what he means by this. If he means that there is 'continuity of species' or 'common ancestry' or even the absolute metaphysical groudning for all of reality is somehow physically explicable. Spelling out these differences seem to me to be very important. It seems that he does take a stronger view of Darwinian evolution and what might be termed metaphysical naturalism, but he does so without grounding and without verification. In other places he gives autonomy to the empirical/hard sciences as sure and true (pg. 13). This to me seems unjustified and unwarranted as an epistemic starting point and as an authority structure for knowledge. Yet, he does not provide much in the way of justification for this just assumption and assertion. It seems to me that for the empirical/hard sciences to be reliable requires that there be teleology in the world that is real and mind-independent - at least from human minds. This realistic teleology transcends, makes sense of, and metaphysically grounds the reliability of our empirical knowledge that allows 'scientists' to make predictions based upon empirical observation and their knowledge of past occurences. This teleology does not seem to allow for atheism, but provides fertile ground for theism and much more naturally coheres within a theistic framework of the world that transcends physical cause and effect (for this see Realism Regained by Robert C. Koons). The second criticism has to do with Crocker's philosophy of mind which can be seen on pages 52 and 76. Here he assumes that physicalism is the ground that gives rise to minds or mental properties kind of a non-reductive physicalism. The difficulty that he does not explain or develop is how physicality can give rise to these brand new novel properties. His view ends up implicitly affirming an epiphenomenal view of the mind and the illusion of qualia - something he puts a lot of weight on for developing religion as myth that points toward some sort of ideal society. This of course undermines and unjustifiably rejects a common-sense view of the self that latent in all human affairs. And is it not this that makes the world go round? It seems to me that it is. Why not accept common-sense and not seek to drive a wedge between science on the one hand and faith on the other with his foundational scientism assumptions - Crocker's own choice dualism. Is not reality much more richly endowed than this idealistic philosophy Crocker puts forth as an alternative to traditional theisms that offer that man has intrinsic value and all of reality has value extended by a Creator. While I did not agree with other aspects of his interpreation of church culture I will not deal with that here just to say that it seemed that he used broad brush strokes.

All in all, I would recommend that those interested in atheism and humanism considering reading this book. Also, those who are religious might consider reading this before reading other books in the new atheist movement. Although he will find the interepretations of religion and the synthesis to be strained.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the Dialogue Begin 16 May 2011
By JE Farrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
AN ENLIGHTENED PHILOSOPHY opens the discourse relating to one of the most crucial social dialogues of our time--the development of a New Collective Consciousness that can redeem the world from the rigidity of traditional religion & the sneering attitude adopted by way too many atheists. Geoff Crocker sets forth the exploration of this concept in a straight forward, easy to comprehend manner.

This little book (71 pages) packs quite a wallop & is well worth the purchase price. This is not the forum for an in-depth political analysis of the book--that can be found on my website (see my profile for URL. Reviwers cannot list external URLs in reviews--and for good reason. Many Amazon reviews are already highly charged emotionally. If everybody listed URLs it would be a mess! So I'll stick to a brief listing of a few highlights.)

AN ENLIGHTENED PHILOSOPHY seeks to salvage a sense of wonder & virtue in a world without a traditional God concept. It assumes that Faith can be reconciled with Disbelief--a tall order & one that I think the author ultimately fails to fully accomplish. For example, he assumes the historical existence of Jesus as a given and skirts the issues of historical materialism & socialism altogether. What's more, while indicating some of the Bible's flaws, Crocker still asserts that we can glean good things from it. I disagree. The Bible & Abrahamic religion (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) have been directly responsible for the ignorance, superstition & intolerance that continues to brutalize & terrorize humanity. Remember the Twin Towers & look at the Middle East, including 'The Holy Land.' This more or less effectively alienates a very wide audience. Nonetheless, in the course of the book Crocker brings many valid observations to light.

As a preface, I quoute from P. 76:

"...the important point in building some synthesis is...an agreement that the soul is not separate and does not exist in eternity does not mean that the soul doesn't exist at all. Current atheist thinkers...do not deny the existence of the mind, so why deny the existence of the soul?"

A very good point that I definitely agree with.

Crocker is relentless in his critique of the modern Christian Church, particularly that of the State Religion of the Church of England, an ossified target that is easy to fault. On page 62, for example, we find:

"...Even today a Roman Catholic cannot become monarch in the UK, and no one appears sufficently motivated to change this clearly immoral legislation which flies in the face of other recent legislation against religious discrimination."

Another excellent point. This status quo began with that judicial serial killer Henry VIII & remains unchanged to this day. God forbid the current Royal Couple split up--it could spell the end of the Monarchy--as almost happened with the cruel death of the lovely Diana.

The following observation on page 9 regarding the beautiful aspects of existence is of particular interest to people concerned with Gnosticism:

"...when they are set against the hostility of the climate and the sheer destruction of one species by another by the hierarchy of the food chain, then this beauty is quickly compromised. Any creator has to account for the inbuilt destruction of the cosmos and not just take credit for the positive outcomes. This horrific destruction is not just a sideshow...but is core and essential to its operation..."

This is why Gnostics believed that the worse thing possible was that there was any Genesis or physical Creation at all. Some went so far as to attach bells at the end of walking sticks they would stretch out before them on the ground as they walked in order to ward of insects so that the Gnostic would avoid inadvertently stepping on them. The great American playwright Tennessee Williams used the brute cruelty of nature motif in his play SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (made into a film starring Montgomery Cliff, Elizabeth Taylor & Katherine Hepburn).

Here's a rather funny passage I enjoyed (Page 69-70):

"A well worn joke tells of a vicar speaking at a school on the ethics of sex. The vicar asks the pupils to consider whether it is worth risking happiness in future life for the sake of 10 minutes momentary pleasure. Questions are invited and one girl puts her hand up and asks the vicar how to make it last 10 minutes...!"

The idea that Crocker presents that I thought really ties in with the current search for a new collective synthesis is the salvaging of Myth in our daily lives. He indicates that the modern view of Myth is that it represents something not quite true. The author correctly calls this the literal view. This view fails to appreciate the power, passion and--yes, magic in Myth. The Church may be dead, but the power of Myth still thrives.

We can find the mythic wonder in our selves, the secret garden of our individual inner heart--dare I say, soul. The Myth of Osiris and the Myth of Christ are one and the same--and if you go beyond literalism you discover the inner teaching: Potentially we are all Osiris, we are all Christ. When we discover the true nature of our being, we too become Redeemers, capable of healing & recovering from the trap of Organized Religion--and can take us beyond the cruder manifestations of secular materialism.

To quote from one of Janis Ian's early songs, "We have no need for a God, each of us is our own."

See also the book AWAKENING OSIRIS by Normandi Ellis.

I could go on, but will encourage readers to do their own investigation of this most relevant secular gospel. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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