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Natural Atheism Saturday, June 23, 2007

Posted by Henry in agnosticism, anthropology, atheism, book review, David Eller, Eller, faith, fundamentalism, God, logic, Natural Atheism, rationality, religion, science, secularism, spirituality, theism.

“I was born an Atheist. All humans are born Atheists.”

This is the powerful opening of a superbly written book, Natural Atheism, which I feel deserves as much attention, if not more, as the current best-selling atheism books such as The God Delusion and A Letter To Christian Nation. The author of the book is Dr. David Eller, an American anthropologist.

This atheism book is a fresh break from the usual passionate and vocal (or, aggressive and strident, to many people) tones of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens – it is of a modest and thoughtful tone. Reading the book is rather like a typical scholarly textbook – impersonal, very well structured and presented, important words are critically defined and crucial points are argued in logical steps.

The first few chapters lay a foundation to atheism, in which some of the more common and standard arguments on this subject are visited, such as burden of proof, argument from personal experience, argument from morality, the problem of evil and so on. Other necessary topics closely related to atheism vs. theism are also discussed in details, such as a short course on reason, cultural relativism, free-thoughts… etc.

Eller then looks at the essential concepts of atheism in the middle chapters, in which two of them I find particularly interesting. One examines what it means to be a positive atheist, negative atheist and agnostics, while the other chapter looks at the often not-so-cosy relationship between science and religion.

Finally the last part of the book looks at the applications of atheism. One is not surprised to find that the issue of separation of states and churches has its own chapter, and so are fundamentalism, spreading atheism and finally, the book concludes with a heartening chapter on the future of atheism, in which the incompleteness of atheism is honestly addressed by Eller.

I strongly recommend anyone who is interested in atheism to read this book.

Natural Atheism


1. Notable Quotes #4 « On Evolution - Thursday, July 5, 2007

[…] God, atheism, religion. trackback This is a quote extracted from the book Natural Atheism which I reviewed earlier: Virtually all of human history and thought has been grounded on the premise of gods. Atheism alone […]

2. ummadam - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All people are born MUSLIM. It’s not until later when they come up with these different belief systems. My Muslim I mean they are all born with a natural belief in god. I just did a post with proofs from the Quran, that no atheist could deny the existence of God.

3. David Eller - Wednesday, September 2, 2009

David Eller here.
“All people are born Muslim”–that’s just too funny. A Hindu might say that all people are born Hindu. What’s going on here is that each religion is trying to claim the default position. But of course NO religion is the default position, and I mean that in both sense of the term: there is no religion that is the default position, and no-religion, the absence of religion, is the default position. There are some psychological traits that make humans prone to religious ideas, but obviously no particular religion is born into a human being.

4. Book Review – Natural Atheism (again) « Toasts to Secular Humanism - Sunday, February 6, 2011

[…] have read to-date. When I first read it 4 years ago, I thought it was a superb, and wrote a blog post reviewing it. Now I read it again, it is even better, like tasting an aging old wine. Pages and […]

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