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Atheism: The Case Against God (Skeptic's Bookshelf) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. September 1979

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Taschenbuch, 1. September 1979
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PRAISE FOR THE WORK OF GEORGE H. SMITH:

"... welcome, hard-hitting." --Publishers Weekly (reviewing the first edition of Atheism: The Case Against God)


"...prose is clear, straightforward, and relatively easy to follow--no small achievement when wading through centuries of epistemology and metaphysics."

--Journal of Church and State (reviewing Why Atheism?)

"George H. Smith is an independent scholar who for many decades has lectured and written about the history of classical liberal and libertarian ideas. The System of Liberty is his first extended take on this history to be published by a high-level academic press--a tribute both to Smith's dogged scholarship and to the rise in the respectability of the libertarian tradition he explains and espouses....the information and analysis are always interesting."

--Brian Doherty, Reason magazine (reviewing The System of Liberty)


"George Smith's lectures on classical liberalism had a profound effect on my thinking. Now, at long last, others may profit from his prodigious learning in this absolutely 'must read' book for anyone interested in modern libertarianism and its historical roots. Clear, accessible, balanced, and powerfully reasoned."

--Randy E. Barnett, author of The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law (reviewing The System of Liberty)


"This is a lucid, concise, but at the same time a deep overview of the origins and structure of classical liberal thought. With a fluid and engaging style, Smith corrects many of our modern misconceptions about how early liberals understood themselves and the terms on which they debated. Anyone interested in liberal thought, whether in its 'classical', modern 'high liberal', or libertarian forms, will find this a valuable resource. Even critics of classical liberalism will find, thanks to Smith, that classical liberal thought contains a great deal of forgotten wisdom."

--Jason Brennan, author of Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (reviewing The System of Liberty)

Synopsis

With this intriguing introduction, George H Smith sets out to demolish what he considers the most widespread and destructive of all the myths devised by man - the concept of a supreme being. With painstaking scholarship and rigorous arguments, Mr. Smith examines, dissects, and refutes the myriad "proofs" offered by theists - the defenses of sophisticated, professional theologians, as well as the average religious layman. He explores the historical and psychological havoc wrought by religion in general - and concludes that religious belief cannot have any place in the life of modern, rational man.

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Format: Taschenbuch
This question which Smith posits at the very beginning of his book and then sets out to answer is well addressed throughout this refutation of theistic belief which Smith has divided into four principle parts.
In Part 1, Smith attacks the general concept of God as an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, infallible, and supernatural being. He explains the meaning of such terms as theist, agnostic, and atheist, and the implications of being each. In drawing excerpts from the writings of many theistic authors, he shows the notion of a god to be internally inconsistent and rationally unintelligible, and because theism cannot seek rational justification, he thus sets up his attack on faith.
The efficacy of faith as a means to acquire knowledge is discussed in Part 2. Faith, the shortcut to knowledge, is shown here to be inconsistent with reason in that faith calls for an abandonment of rational thought processes in favor of acceptance of an idea without empirical evidence. If faith is to be epistemologically inconsistent with reason, Smith argues, it must be shown to be valid through reason. Smith exposes the inherent incosistency between miracles and causality, and goes on to reveal contradictions within the Bible, thus forcing the Christian to relinquish his idea of the Bible as the absolute truth of God. By showing faith to be illogical and irrational, Smith cuts the ground under from the acceptance of many religious doctrines and the belief in a god.
Part 3 is dedicated to the refutation of the arguments put forth by theists for a god's existence. Each argument is presented and then addressed, and these various "proofs" offered by theists are shown to be fallacious and philosophically invalid.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Briefly, this book is a critical examination of the arguments put forth by religionists. Through a careful examination of the premises, arguments, and conclusions of the religionists' assertions, Smith proves that their arguments simply do not support the belief that there is a god.
Smith also put a look at the major differences between 'faith' (belief without evidence) and 'reason' (critical, logical, factual acceptance of reality). Faith is the basis of religion, and it is entirely irrational. Reason is the careful examination of facts, development of theories which explain those facts, and the organization of ideas into logical systems.
The (admittedly unscientific, but nontheless quite 'real') evidence in the postings here indicate that most religionists are keenly aware that their belief in magical dieties is misplaced, and that is why religionists everywhere work so hard to suppress and eradicate Atheism, I think. The postings by religionists have a nearly-hysterical tone to them and they seem to indicate a desparate [and somewhat laughable] attempt by religionists to attempt to win a logical argument by resorting to some writing that is analogous to chanting or praying.
Smith's book provides an insightful look at why religious societies are always poor, or generally backward (and why socieities prosper once they rid themselves of relioiosity): religion is madness; organized mental illness which retards and cripples a society, just as it mentally cripples individuals. Religious thinking is illogical, and the systems which preserve it must resort to brutal suppression of facts in order to survive.
This book is not only an excellent refutation of the god arguments put forth by religionists, it is also an excellent book illustrating the principles of logical argument.
This one's a KEEPER!
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Format: Taschenbuch
In my opinion, this book provides a good introduction to atheism and related philosophical issues. The hostile-sounding title might put some people off, but Smith makes it clear in the first section of his book that the primary focus of the book is whether or not theistic claims should be accepted as true. If one can show that theistic belief if flawed (the case against god), then one supports atheism.
Smith then proceeds to do just that for the remainder of his book. He covers basic and important subjects such as god concepts, faith, morality, and common arguments for god. Smith argues that no rational person can accept theism as true and he discusses the philosophical problems of many theistic arguments. Smith writes in a non-technical style, and this may be why the book is popular. I think Smith's book could serve as a good starting point for approaching more thorough and technical books on atheism.
Smith spends much of the book analyzing Christianity, and I would have preferred it if he spent more time looking at theism in general. Throughout the book, he describes major flaws in Christianity, and after awhile it appears as though he's just whipping a dead horse. Of course, it's a dead horse that many people insist on riding, so I suppose that critiquing it from several perspectives may help to convince some of the riders that they're not going anywhere on that beast.
If you are a philosophical layperson who wants to learn more about atheism, then this is the book you should read.
Now, if I may digress, it appears that some of the reviews posted before mine do not really review the book at all. Instead, they provide theistic arguments that supposedly refute the arguments that Smith makes in his book. It is interesting to note that the theistic arguments offered below are actually covered in Smith's book, where he shows them to be flawed. It makes me wonder if some of those reviewers actually read or understood the book.
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