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Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #99)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  480 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Atheism is often considered to be a negative, dark, and pessimistic belief which is characterised by a rejection of values and purpose and a fierce opposition to religion. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral. It also confronts the failure of...more
Paperback, 119 pages
Published August 28th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2003)
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The Meaning of Life by Terry EagletonLiterary Theory by Jonathan CullerBuddhism by Damien KeownHistory by John H. ArnoldMedieval Britain by John Gillingham
The Oxford Very Short Introductions Series
18th out of 104 books — 10 voters
Letters on Cézanne by Rainer Maria RilkeAtheism by Julian BagginiThey Called Her Styrene by Ed RuschaRipley's Believe It or Not! by Howard ZimmermanAn Introduction To The American Underground Film by Sheldon Renan
Read in 2011
2nd out of 11 books — 1 voter

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They do say that there are no atheists in foxholes, but foxes don’t go to confession either. So how do we know? If foxes DID go to confession, however...wavy lines on the screen - dissolve to :


Mr Fox : Father, forgive me, I have sinned.

Priest: What did you do, son?

Mr Fox : Do you have to ask? Another six chickens this week. And, I had lustful thoughts. I looked at internet fox porn. You know I have an iPad, and that stuff is only three clicks away.

Priest: (Adopting an Irish accent,...more
Mostafa Saad
I can not describe the large and deep impact this book has done -and will do maybe- regarding me, my thoughts and attitude towards atheism and atheists .. Such a great, fantastic book.. So so well organized with rational arguments and quiet words. A nice, simple way of writing, easy-to-understand for non-native English speakers.
It is formed of a short preface, 7 chapters constituting the main bulk, few pages for references and further reading, then an index.

"Chapter 1: What Is Atheism? Simply: t...more
I picked up this book at B&N and was genuinely curious and excited to read it. While the substance of the book was good - provided a discussion of background, history, atheist views and arguments re: morality, the meaning of life, among other things - I found the tone to be condescending. It felt as though I was reading a book for other atheists, that I was eavesdropping on a conversation I was not invited to. (I don't believe that was the author's intent, and I am sure there are many theist...more
This book is EXCELLENT. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in atheism and the logic and rational thinking that goes with it. I only give five stars to books where every page is worth reading. This is definitely one of those books.
Keyser Soze
ეს წიგნი ტიპიური ოქსფორდის გამოცემაა. მცირე წიგნში მაქსიმალური ლაკონურობით არის გადმოცემული თანამედროვე ათეიზმის ძირითადი პრინციპები. კითხვის დროს არ გიჩნდება განცდა, რომ რაიმე ზედმეტი წაიკითხე (თუმცა ეს გამოცდილების მიხედვით განსხვავებული იქნება). ავტორი დახვეწილი სტილით წერს, ტერმინები პოპულარულსა და აკადემიურს შორისაა. თუმცა იყო წინადადებები, რომლების აღქმაც გამიჭირდა.

ავტორის მიზანი არის ათეიზმი წარმოაჩინოს, როგორც პოზიტიური მსოფლმხედველობა (self-contained) და არა რაიმეს (რელიგიის) უარყოფაზე...more
Jun 16, 2012 Andrew marked it as to-read
Shelves: philosophy
I'm a card carrying atheist, so it should come as no surprise that I feel validated by a book that sketches out well-reasoned responses to the most common objections to atheism.

The first chapter locates atheism within the philosophical traditions of naturalism and physicalism. It also shows that despite the etymology of the term, atheism does not rely on any religion to exist. Atheists would believe what they do (due to their firmly established philosophical underpinnings), whether or not any r...more
Jordan Peacock
You know those rides at the amusement park with the little measurements beside the gate, and the sign reading "You must be this tall to ride"?

This book (and 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God) have become that height marker for me when it comes to discussing atheism. There is so much ill will, pretentious ignorance and straw man caricatures when religious people try to discuss atheism, that I've pretty much stopped engaging in discussions unless people can prove a minimal baseline of...more
محمد  الخواص

لقد كان من دواعى السرور والشرف ان اكتب هذا الكتاب لسلسلة مقدمات قصيرة جدا الرائعة .وللحفاظ على روح تلك السلسلة عملت ان يكون هذا الكتاب سهل القراءة وممتع متجنبا الجفاف الاكاديمى مع السعى على الحفاظ على ارتفاع مستوى التماسك والكفاءة الفكرية . لقد تركت مسألة الحكم على ذلك للاخرين
من اجل تجنب العقم المنهجى فاننى لم اتبع التقاليد الاكاديمية الصارمة فى ذكر المصادر والمراجع التى اعتمدت عليها وبدلا من ذلك قمت بعمل قائمة فى نهاية الكتاب تضم المراجع والمصادر بالاضافة الى اقتراحات لقراءة المزيد . اتمنى ان ي...more
The topic absolutely fascinates me, but it's hard to find a book on the topic that doesn't a) talk down to you if you happen to believe in God b) state atheism as simply against organized religion. Not believing in organized religion is NOT not believing in God. Baggini write this perfectly.
Xiaoqing Wang
It's a succinct read so far, brings new insight of atheism to me. I am quite convinced by the author that morality doesn't call for a deity existence, but oddly I find myself more favorable of agnosticism after reading this book. Will add more comments after I finish it.
A dry read and not the easy to share with religious family members type of book that I had originally hoped for but not bad overall.
N.J. Ramsden
I little too much of the built-in pre-emptive defensiveness here for it to be a really balanced outline study of atheism. It almost feels as though this book had been written not for the objective reader, but for the reader with some chip on their shoulder of unknown proportion. Which is a shame, as Baggini ends up problematizing the supposed objectivity that should be the core of such a book. Perhaps they should subtitle the next edition "Scared of Atheists? Read this!"

Not one of the more succe...more
This book provides a brief outline of the naturalistic outlook of atheists. The author is careful to not identify himself as a militant atheist.

Baggini admits "I have a strong feeling that my arguments are powerless in the face of a strong desire for or belief in life after death." Every atheist who has tried to talk to a died-in-the-wool Christian about his beliefs will understand this sentiment. They have made up their mind and there is no going back to reevaluate now. It would be too dangerou...more
God is just one of the things that atheists don’t believe in, it just happens to be the thing that, for historical reasons, gave them their name.

Atheism: A very short introduction Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini’s short introduction to atheism is an excellent run down of the basic principles and arguments for atheism. The strongest point for this book is its emphasis on the positive aspects of atheism rather than spiralling into an anti-religious diatribe.

Atheism is not a faith position because it...more
I decided to re-read this book, three years after the first time I read it. I was originally unimpressed by the book, but having given it another chance I think it is a fine introduction to the topic. While I don't agree with the way Baggini structures the discussion in some areas, there are some pretty good sections that make up for those shortcomings. The chapter making the case for atheism is good as a general introduction, and would be good to use in the philosophy of religion section of an...more
For the most part, this Very Short Introduction is a lively and enjoyable guide which sets out to counter various myths about atheism and to make it more palatable to the non-atheist. Author Baggini breezes through a handful of key areas - ethics, purpose, history, and so on - bringing his admirable philosophical knowledge to bear on each contending argument, and presenting it in a down-to-earth and amiable style.

One pivotal area of contention in the theist-atheist debate is how to define athei...more
Draco3seven Crawdady
Standard gobbledygook on Atheism... if you believe in science as is defined by the materialism (thus the material world too) and God (as is defined by Western religion), then this book is short and easy and for you... Its scope and limitations, is that it only gives a materialist/scientific explanation for atheism. There are much more sophisticated versions of Atheism. This book however does distinguish that atheist need not be of the insistent type (i.e. Dawkins). I for one, are an Atheist and...more
A short introduction into atheism. It outlined the case for atheism and its place in history while explaining its importance as a force in a world dominated by religion. It is not extremely detailed and the author admitted several times that he would not go into several points that I was interested in. However, its simplicity and straight-forward language made it a rather worthwhile read.

A summary of its main points:

1. Atheism is rooted in naturalism, the belief that only a natural world exists,...more
Benjamin Torres
It is indeed a very short book so I wasn't expecting any new thought or argument, but I do think that the author presents the arguments really well and to the point.
I specially liked the chapter about morality and I have to admit I didn't knew all those theories he talks about. I think is great that the author guides the reader at the end of the book to some other references, books and authors with much more to say on atheism.
Jan 23, 2014 Mina rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
As an introduction to a topic .. a general one, written by someone who clearly says " I am biased" from the very beginning .. it was OK!

Says nothing new, to me at least, for me it was just like a train of thoughts, the ones you get to hear when you are in a general discussion where none of the parties really want to go further past a pleasant (or not!) thoughts exchange!

I actually read it as a time killer, I had nothing better to do at the time, could not concentrate with anything, so just wan...more
Jeffrey Backlin
My mother-in-law gave this book to me thinking it was a critique of atheism. While brief, a helpful presentation of atheism from the author's point of view.
M.E Aziz
he managed to make (a good case for atheism) but for sure deep philosophical conflicts between religions and atheism is not meant to be solved here. The book fulfills his goal in an scientific way and that is it.
It is truly a great book and well-written. A real help for those who have a faint idea about what Atheism is about. It reviews why atheists choose not to believe in gods or in a god. The consequences of this decision in their lives and the meaning it brings into question. The morals of atheists vs that of religion. The best part was about debunking the ontological arguments for the existence of God. As for me, I haven't learned much. It's just the same ideas that I already knew, maybe that's why...more
Nabil Mourtada
this is my first try with the series of (A very short introduction)..i think , this book is one of the best books which discussed the atheism ,specially the rational,neutral,non-fundamental and practical technique that the author had followed in his research about atheism .... i extremely recommend it for every body want to start reading about this subject.. .
Venkat Pedapati
This is brilliantly written book in such a short amount of space. Arguments are concise, yet intriguing. Any reasonable person would enjoy these cleverly formed arguments, theist or atheist.

A must read for intellectually hungry people. This book also touches on fundamental philosophical issues such as meaning in life etc.
May 02, 2007 ryan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: questioning individuals.
Shelves: read_philosophy
alright, well i don't know if i'd consider myself an atheist by the definition given in this book, but somewhere approaching that designation. maybe agnostic? this book articulates very well some of my reasons for those beliefs, whichever category/s i may be classified under.
Tom Griffith
Written in a clear and concise way, this book not only explains what atheism is, but puts the case for why it is the only explanation for what life is all about. Not done in an aggro way at all - just through evidence and argument and reason.
Nathan Schwartz
Julian Baggini is my favorite popular philosophy writer these days. In this book he does not spend any time arguing against the traditional proofs of god, but rather presents a simple, non-confrontational, positive case for atheism. Very fine work.
Oct 18, 2010 Laura added it
The title says it all "A very short introduction". It's a good book for someone who wants to have an overall view of atheism. A waste of time if you already hold a basic knowledge about this subject, though.
Jul 02, 2009 Rob marked it as to-read
This author is mentioned in the book "Quotable Atheists" which is, itself, a large collection of quotes from notable atheists. I'm making it a point to read these books to gain more insight into Atheism.
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Julian Baggini is a British philosopher and the author of several books about philosophy written for a general audience. He is the author of The Pig that Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments (2005) and is co-founder and editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. He was awarded his Ph.D. in 1996 from University College London for a thesis on the philosophy of personal identity. In addition...more
More about Julian Baggini...
The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self The Philosophers Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods What's It All About?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life The Duck That Won the Lottery: and 99 Other Bad Arguments

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“Morality is more than possible without God, it is entirely independent of him.” 12 likes
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