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50 Voices of DisbeliefReview - 50 Voices of Disbelief
Why We Are Atheists
by Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk (Editors)
Wiley-Blackwell, 2009
Review by Roger Chao
Apr 6th 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 14)

One of the great questions of philosophy has always been about the existence of god/s (specifically not capitalized). Whilst my own personal view is that this question is irrelevant and that we should just live our lives ethically no matter if there is a god or not, the growing encroachment of religious thought on our everyday lives, has resulted in recent backlashes by well known atheist authors such as Dennett, Harris, Hitchens and Dacey. The increasing Islamic fundamentalism (of a political nature that is), and the growing political influence of the religious right in the USA, have all contributed to this increasing tension between atheists theists, secularists and the state. Thus, the contemporary relevance, and timeliness of this book is unsurpassed.

The writing in this book is not at all technical in nature, and thus is targeted towards a mainstream audience. It is not a philosophy book, or textbook for that matter, but rather an account of various well known non-believers (I specifically do not use the word atheist, as some of the authors never claim to be this, and do not use disbelief either, as this implies not believing in something at actually exists) personal viewpoints, directed at a popular audience. Thus, the matter contained in this book is very approachable at all levels, containing a wide range of stories, anecdotes and personal statements about why each of the authors considers themselves to be a non believer.

The book itself contains 50 personal accounts of their disbelief, ranging from well known philosophers of religion, to physicists, to journalists and politicians, giving a wide variety of personal reasons for non-belief The accounts expressed in this book range from the philosophical to the comical, all presenting differing (and often conflicting) viewpoints about their non-belief.

Overall, this book is well suited for a mainstream audience, interested in questioning the power that religion holds over our lives. Being an item of non-fiction for a general audience, it has surprisingly good references at the end of some chapters (by academic writers that is), which will also serve to guide the reader if further information is wanted. Thus, I recommend this book to anyone (regardless of their views concerning religion) interested in understanding why different people hold certain views concerning religion.

 

© 2010 Roger Chao

 

Roger Chao is an applied ethicist and moral theorist, working in a diverse array of applied ethics fields, from bioethics, to environmental ethics, political philosophy, and health care ethics; as well as in all aspects of moral theory -- from the traditional Kantian, Consequentialist, and Virtue Ethics approaches, to more modern and newer approaches as well.

 


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