Natural Atheism Saturday, June 23, 2007Posted by henry000 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.