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Philosophers without Gods. Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  209 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Atheists are frequently demonized as arrogant intellectuals, antagonistic to religion, devoid of moral sentiments, advocates of an "anything goes" lifestyle. Now, in this revealing volume, nineteen leading philosophers open a window on the inner life of atheism, shattering these common stereotypes as they reveal how they came to turn away from religious belief.
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Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published (first published June 27th 2007)
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James Murphy
Dec 27, 2011 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This interesting collection of essays about atheism by contemporary philosophers is divided into 2 parts: Journeys and Reflections. It's the Journeys I thought more meditative. They're essays dealing with how those philosophers, raised in religious backgrounds, came to their unbelief. They're more reminiscent and explanatory. The reflections of the 2d part are more characteristic of the heavy lifting philosophy does, disciplined argument steeped in logical thought.

The concepts supporting atheism
This is a collection of essays on various topics related to religious belief by writers who are mostly not religious believers. Many of the writers were ex-religious believers and seemed to have some sort of longing for their previous beliefs, or were upset in some way that they could no longer believe. I found those sorts of attitudes uninteresting.

The 2 essays that were moderately interesting were by Simon Blackburn (a sort of personal hero of mine) and Richard Feldman, a professor of philosop
Earl Biringer
Interesting collection of essyas by atheistic philosophers, but nothing ground-breaking here. The first section is pretty acccessable to the non-philosopher as it deals with the personal side of their "conversions." the second section can probably be a little dense (but not too much so) to those unused to the academic philosophical lexicon, but is still worth reading - the struggle isn't too painful! The last three essays are probably of most interest from a purely philosophical perspective as t ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Charlie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, athiesm
Atheists are a small minority in the English-speaking world but rather common in departments of analytic philosophy. This book lets atheist philosophers speak for themselves. The first half consists of "Journeys," in which the authors autobiographically recount how they became atheists and philosophers (two often related conversions). The second half consists of "Reflections," essays that explore some question of philosophy from a specifically atheist perspective, defend atheism, rebut religion, ...more
Steven Williams
Jan 27, 2015 Steven Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Most Excellent Book

This is the best book I have read since September last year (2014). The book is a collection of essays by a number of academic philosophers. In the first part, are essays that describe how their authors got to be atheists or how they live their lives. In this part of the book, I found a number of the essays were uplifting. They describe similar development of their atheism as my own. All of them were enjoyable. In the second part, the essays concentrated on various aspects o
Ashna Singh
Sep 18, 2013 Ashna Singh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very very very good book.
Elisaúl RC
May 10, 2014 Elisaúl RC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was about time for me to finish this anthology. Im much of a passive reader; I dont do the detailed-analytical-reviews thing. If you want to read other voices other than Hitchens or whatever, i highly recommend this book. It left me wanting for more, probably because Ive been reading books of this sort for a while, and was not so impressed. I liked that they included the essay "If God is dead, is everything permitted?". Had already read it in Hitchens anthology. I understand the book was publ ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Lachlan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During the Darwin Festival in Cambridge, there was inevitably some discussion of the impact of evolutionary theory on religion, although this theme luckily did not dominate proceedings at all. The prominent atheists Richard Dawkins (recently characterized by Fern Elsdon-Baker as "Darwin's Rottweiler") and Daniel Dennett were both there, but their contributions were generally mild. What struck me was the casuistry of the (few) spokespeople for the religious view as against the straightforwardness ...more
A great book of essays, each running from around 10 to 20 pages in length, about issues of "deconversion" to non-theism, all by people who are now professional philosophers.

Only one, Dan Dennett, is an outright Gnu Atheist. Only a few others might be called "evangelizing atheists." But none is a shirking violet as to how they address these issues.

Some spend more time on their actual deconversion and how that appears from a philosophic angle. Others, whether evangelizers or not, focus on their cu
Dec 01, 2011 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent collection. The Atheist books that have received the most attention in recent years have all had angry tones (I haven't read them all of course, but in interviews their authors come as angry) and as bracing as that can be for those of us who share the authors' beliefs it can also be off putting. Enter Philosophers Without God which is calm and reasonable, as one would expect from a book written by philosophers.
Of course, if all this had to offer was a polite tone it wouldn't
I expected some scholarly pieces on the relationship between religion and philosophy, but this book is rather different. They are personal essays written by contemporary western philosophers (all American, I think) on the ways in which their conflict was or was not resolved. The general consensus seems to be that morality can exist independently of the presence of "God," which is a profound relief to all; the question then remains, what is the point of "God?" None of the philosophers set out to ...more
May 17, 2010 Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection of essays by philosophers who are atheists is sheer pleasure and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is an unfortunately novel joy to read writings about religion where the authors have thought so deeply about the subject. Few of the essays even resemble the kind of tirades against religion that many people will probably expect from a book of this type. In fact, nearly all of them are very thoughtful and respectful, even as they offer criticism. Several of the authors even wr ...more
Jan 29, 2009 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am really enjoying this so far. It's a compilation of essays, mostly written by self-identified (I don't mean that to sound derogatory) and published philosophers who once were affiliated, if not deeply involved with, a religion of some sort. As a person who has transitioned from deeply religious to agnostic, it is difficult for me to find truly empathetic points of view- there are so many questions that are now left without answers, so many feelings that now have no channel. I constantly turn ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Forget "the new Atheists" (except Dennett, I guess, who has a chapter here), this is the best new book on atheism.

The first half consists of atheist philosophers from a variety of backgrounds reflecting on the paths that led them to atheism, and it is, except maybe for "Foreskin's Lament", the best thing I have read all year.

The second half consists of more philosophical "thinkpieces", which are slightly more of a mixed bag (a few of them are kind of on the dense side). But the book would get 5
May 12, 2011 Kitty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall it was excellent. A couple of the essays were a little less interesting to me, but most were great. Highly recommend it. I hope to own a copy because I'd like to reread some of the essays.
Chris O'Neill
I was disappointed. It got repetitive after the 6th essay. I was hoping for some perspectives outside of the Judeo-christian traditions. Unfortunately, it did not deliver.
Jan 19, 2011 Paige rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Had high hopes for this book, but found it too dense and complicated to read. Couldn't get through the first essay.
Onyango Makagutu
Sep 16, 2012 Onyango Makagutu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good read, well thought out and convincing.
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“When a friend needs to believe in God in order to be able to face life, it feels cruel to announce your atheism and argue that such religious views are bunk. It might also be cruel to hold students responsible for their religious views by giving them the grades they deserve. Nonetheless, there remain many occasions when atheists can and should speak out. We should not let politicians, in particular, base their policies on religion without being questioned. We should not let religion distort academic and popular discussions.” 0 likes
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