Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Atheist's Primer

Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Atheist's Primer

Article excerpt

The Atheist's Primer. By Michael Palmer. Cambridge, UK: Lutterworth, 2012. Pp. 169. $18.95.

Many of the recent acerbic criticisms of theistic belief have been more concerned with religion and its aberrations than with the question of God. When the existence of God does come up--for example, in arguments from science against creationism--the notion of God that is rejected is often one that is childishly naive. Palmer's book is refreshing in that it approaches atheism from a philosophical perspective, reviewing the major intellectual objections against the notion of God from the ancient world to the present. P. deals with the arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, the claim that God is needed to found morality (with a fine section on Nietzsche), belief in miracles, and attacks on believers' motivations. Although P. intends to argue for atheism, he does not pretend that it represents a single coherent position. Nor does he create a straw man of theism, but considers some sophisticated theological responses to atheist critiques.

Wide-ranging as it is, P.'s treatment has limitations. P. considers only Western philosophy, and even there he is selective. …

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