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Sunday, 04 March 2007


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I'd recommend The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Not sure if this qualifies as "substantial philosophical ahtheism," but Harris is erudite, witty, and provocative.


While I've not read it myself "The miracle of theism" ( which argues that it's a "miracle" in the non theological sense that theism exists because of the weight of evidence against it) by J.L. Mackie is meant to be very good. It's a work of analytic philosophy so it's not light reading but the extract I read on the problem of evil was very thoughtful.

The extract I read made the point that if there is such a thing as divine foreknowledge then the free will defence against the argument for atheism from evil doesn't work because God could have created us ( paradoxically) so that we both had free will and never sinned because he would know through his foreknowledge the set of created worlds in which humanity both had free will and never sinned.

He also pointed out, most amusingly, that Christians who claim that good requires the existence of evil don't seem to believe in other contexts that there is just enough evil for good to exist, and that if the quantity of evil were decreased there could be no good.

While he concedes that there are logically theoidicies ( at least I think he did from memory) he argues that none are compatiable with orthodox forms of theism.


I haven't read Dawkins' book, but I did read a very good review of it in Village Magazine (Irish lefty poli/artsy magazine) which was originally published in the New York Review of Books. As Dawkins has been on the TV for about three months solid talking about the book, I have a fair idea of what was in it.

Karl Steel

Does Russell's Why I am Not a Christian count? I have it on my shelf, but I don't think I've opened it since I stopped being a Christian (1986).


For this kind of thing, the University of London's>Philosophy study guide is often very helpful. See here the reading list for the>Philosophy of Religion paper (PDF) and take your pick...


On B. Russell -- Why I Am Not a Christian is hit and miss, but probably a little more interesting than Dawkins, at least in in that Russell's struggles are of a different era. I reviewed it a while back on my other blog, if you're interested in a more thorough round-up.


Antony Flew has written some books on this subject; one is God: A Critical Enquiry. He has also participated in some debates on God which are available as books.

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