Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know

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Over the last decade, "New Atheists" such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have pushed the issue of atheism to the forefront of public discussion. Yet very few of the ensuing debates and discussions have managed to provide a full and objective treatment of the subject.

Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know provides a balanced look at the topic, considering atheism historically, philosophically, theologically, sociologically and psychologically. Written in an easily accessible style, the book uses a question and answer format to examine the history of atheism, arguments for and against atheism, the relationship between religion and science, and the issue of the meaning of life-and whether or not one can be a happy and satisfied atheist. Above all, the author stresses that the atheism controversy is not just a matter of the facts, but a matter of burning moral concern, both about the stand one should take on the issues and the consequences of one's commitment.

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About the Author:


Michael Ruse was born in 1940 in England. Raised in a Quaker family, he went to Bootham School in York and then to the University of Bristol, where he majored in mathematics and philosophy. In 1962 he emigrated to Canada and did graduate work at McMaster University in Ontario. He returned to Bristol to do his doctoral degree in philosophy. He taught at the University of Guelph from 1965 to 2000, and then to avoid compulsory retirement moved south to Florida State University. He is the author or editor of over fifty books, the founding editor of Biology and Philosophy, the recipient of four honorary degrees, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Gifford Lecturer, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His academic interests are in the history and philosophy of the biological sciences and he is an expert on the work and influence of Charles Darwin. In recent years, his attention has been turned increasingly towards the relationships between science and religion. He is not a believer, but thinks that the two can exist together harmoniously.

Review:


"Fully aware of how tedious tracts on either theology or atheism can be, Michael Ruse sets out not to be boring. He succeeds! As a nonbeliever who hesitates to call himself an atheist, he also strives in this book to be balanced and fair to his opponents. I'll let other readers decide whether he succeeds or not, but I can say that even where I disagree with him, I find his book much more informed and compelling than the recent, much less educated New Atheist putdowns of people of faith. Before reading Dennett, Dawkins, Harris or Hitchens, read Michael Ruse."-- John F. Haught, Professor Emeritus of Theology, Georgetown University


"Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know is an excellent scholarly yet very readable account of an important subject, which reveals its complexity and contradictions along with those of the human mind itself."-- Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University


"... Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know, is in fact a refreshing contrast to much of the polemics of the New Atheists. Although he [Ruse] too writes for a popular audience with verve, wit, and passion, his discussion is far more informed and intellectually sophisticated. ... Unlike the New Atheists, Ruse insists on a substantial discussion of the meaning and intellectual bases of theism before taking up the case against it." --Commonweal


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Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015
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