On Louise M. Anthony et al.’s Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life.

The essays in this book by mostly disillusioned Christians and Jews writing on topics like “From Yashiva to Secular,” “Overcoming Christianity,” “On Becoming a Heretic,” and “Divine Evil,”  imply that atheism is superior, more rational, and less prone to fanaticism. The concluding essay tries  to show that faith automatically leads to fanaticism, ignoring the facts  that non-religious fanatics have done no less havoc than religious ones, and that billions of religious people are not automatically fanatics. But the central point of atheism is that God is a human concept, useful perhaps to some, but quite unnecessary for the important things in life. One can be moral, respectful, reverential, caring, and compassionate and all the rest without believing in a supernatural punishing God. In so far as this point is explained well in the essays,  the book is worth reading. The standard arguments against atheism are also answered forcefully and intelligently by the authors. But it is not pointed out that one doesn’t have to be anti-religion to be an atheist; many balanced atheists have little interest in the gods of the religions. Only the fanatics among them are on a crusade to destroy other people’s faith. Fortunately, the authors of these essays don’t seem to belong to that category.


About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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