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The Atheist's Primer reinstates the importance of philosophy in the debate about God's existence. The 'new atheism' of Richard Dawkins and others has been driven by largely Darwinian objections to God's existence, limiting the debate to a principally scientific framework. This has obscured the philosophical tradition of atheism, in which the main landmarks in the history of atheism are to be found.
With an analysis of atheistic thought from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, philosopher Michael Palmer explains and comments on the philosophical arguments warranting atheism, discussing issues such as evil; miracles; religious 'morality'; and the motivations for belief. Significant religious responses to atheist arguments are also included to describe all sides of this complex debate. The Atheist's Primer concludes by asking if atheists are doomed to unhappiness since they deny the existence of any transcendent existence.
Looking at the main themes discussed by the book, Chapter 4 explores the problem of evil. Michael Palmer summarises the thought of several philosophers who keenly feel the deep contradiction between the notion of suffering and that of a benevolent God, starting from 18th Century empirical philosopher David Hume. Palmer also describes some of the major exponents of 20th Century atheism such as Australian philosopher JL Mackie and American philosopher William Rowe. Significant contributions to this debate from religious thinkers such as Alvin Plantinga and English theologian John Hick are also featured.
Palmer concludes on a positive note, arguing - alongside Nietzsche, Marx and Freud and many others - that happiness and personal fulfilment can be reached without God's help. The power of loving relationships, caring for others, the desire to educate ourselves and to improve society, give the world a meaning deeper and more authentic than the one found in religious faith.
Michael Palmer first addressed these issues in The Atheist's Creed. His new book The Atheist's Primer, is a revised abridgement for the general reader. Palmer has stripped out the primary texts and expanded his commentaries into fluent and concise prose, so providing an important introduction to a major cultural debate.
About the Author: Dr Michael Palmer, a former Teaching Fellow at McMaster University and Humboldt Fellow at Marburg University, has taught at Marlborough College and Bristol University, and was for many years founding Head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at The Manchester Grammar School. His publications include Moral Problems (1991; 2nd ed. 2005), Freud and Jung on Religion (1997) The Question of God (2001), Moral Problems in Medicine (2005), the two-volume The Philosophy of Religion (2008) and The Atheist's Creed (2010). His work has been translated into many languages.
About the Publisher: The Lutterworth Press has been trading since the eighteenth century and is one of the longest established and best-known independent publishers in the United Kingdom. It has been associated with James Clarke & Co. since 1984.
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