For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Atheism as a Positive Social force
  • Raymond W. Converse
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Atheism as a Positive Social force.
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Atheism offers a basis for society beyond a belief in the supernatural. In an accessibly written essay, Converse explains how religions evolved and sets forth the major lines of philosophical argument that support the position of atheism.

Recent disasters have raised new questions concerning the role of religion in society. Converse does not oppose religion per se; he outlines the growth of religion from a modern historical perspective and shows how atheism can be applied as a positive alternative in facing everyday problems.


About the Author

Raymond W. Converse holds a JD degree from Wayne State University and an MA in Education from the University of Missouri, and has done graduate work in educational philosophy at the University of Missouri. Now a writer living in Tennessee, he has published several books with Algora. 

About the Book

Atheism isn’t only significant as a philosophical position held in opposition to religion; it has its own value as a way of life. What would atheism propose to replace the existence of God?

We live in a world which still...

Atheism isn’t only significant as a philosophical position held in opposition to religion; it has its own value as a way of life. What would atheism propose to replace the existence of God?

We live in a world which still believes, and lives as if, God exists and directs the workings of the universe. Yet many (or most) of us think we’ve advanced beyond this reliance on “the supernatural.” Where does that leave us?

This book sets forth the major lines of philosophical argument that support the position of atheism. Along the way, it sets forth the major philosophical arguments of those who rely upon religion as the support of their belief in the existence of God. As the two counter positions are presented, it is hoped that the contrast between them will open the doors to debate.

Recent disasters have raised new questions concerning the role of religion in society. The author does not oppose religion per se; he outlines the growth of religion from a modern historical perspective and shows how atheism can be applied as a positive alternative in facing everyday problems.

Includes a bibliography and list of suggested readings for each chapter.


Introduction

The common definition of an atheist is pretty perfunctory: “one who denies or disbelieves in the existence of God.” But atheism has its own value as a way of life; it is not only significant as a philosophical position held in opposition to religion. Without a doubt the most important concern of atheism is: What would...

The common definition of an atheist is pretty perfunctory: “one who denies or disbelieves in the existence of God.” But atheism has its own value as a way of life; it is not only significant as a philosophical position held in opposition to religion. Without a doubt the most important concern of atheism is: What would atheism propose to replace the existence of God? The simple, usual definition is actually of very little use.

The majority of this work will be an attempt to set forth the major lines of philosophical argument that support the position of atheism in a world which still believes, and lives as if, God exists and directs the workings of the world. In the course of this presentation it will also be necessary to set forth the major philosophical arguments of those who rely upon religion as the support of their belief in the existence of God. As the two counter positions are presented, it is hoped that the contrast between them will open the doors to debate.

A few introductory remarks concerning the position of atheism will set the stage for this dialectic. Atheism as it exists today consists of three major schools. The first school consists of people (and they seem to be in the majority) who accept the position that God does not exist. They do not, however, give much more thought to this acceptance. They continue to live their lives as if God does exist. This position does not require much thought or conviction; and if pressed, those who stand on this acceptance would be unable to justify their belief.

The second school consists of those who accept the fact that God does not exist and who are also capable of setting forth a fully thought-out statement of their position. The second school, however, does not take a public stance on their beliefs or convictions. They have replaced God, as the effective author of the world, with human reason. Human reason is equated with the results that have been set forth in the fields of science and technology. This position is based upon a philosophical system of thought known as materialism. This position came into existence, as concerns Western European civilization, within a time period of a few hundred years. The important point here is that the holders of this position do not tend to take a public stance with their position. Science over the last couple of centuries has proposed a series of theories based upon material facts that would argue against the necessity for the existence of God. The theory of evolution, the Big Bang theory, the Theory of Relativity, and the findings of scientific psychology would all fall in this category. Taken together, these theories can be seen as offering an alternative explanation for the beginning of the universe, the continued operation of the universe, and an explanation for each individual member of the universe. Should those theories be proven to a point of certainty, then the need for God and the supernatural generally would be completely negated.

The problem is that most of the theories offered by science have not been proven to that point of certainty. It must also be remembered that belief in the existence of God and the supernatural is only one part of the role that is played by what we know as organized religion. In fact, belief in the explanations of science are seen by those who wish to impugn them as requiring just as great a leap of faith as a belief in God. We will look at this claim later.

In the third category are those (relatively few!) people who not only claim to be atheists and are able to offer fully developed explanations for their atheism, but who also structure their lives to fit their atheism. They are able to, and do, attempt to teach the philosophical position of atheism to those who care to listen. This is, of course, the most difficult position to maintain of the three. It requires not only a working knowledge of religion, but also of science and technology. It is my position that individuals can truly be considered atheist only if they have gotten to this stage; and I hope that this work will bring those who are interested to the point at which such a decision can be made in earnest.



Pages 244
Year: 2003
LC Classification: BL2747.3.C64
Dewey code: 211'.8—dc21
BISAC: REL004000
BISAC: REL033000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-211-8
Price: USD 20.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-212-5
Price: USD 28.95
Ebook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-229-3
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