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Atheist Book Reading Challenge

mds1303
Posts: 55
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5/11/2010 9:07:08 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Hey I finally have some free time from school since it is summer and I thought of an idea that might be cool......if i have any takers?

I would like atheist's to vote on which book they want me to read that best supports why there is no God, and those same people have to read my choice....

My choice is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

We also have to agree to read the books with as much of an open mind as possible.....

let me know what you think.....
MikeLoviN
Posts: 746
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5/11/2010 9:26:07 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:19:49 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
Read the Qur'an. :P lol

Have you actually read it? Not just skimmed through it and decided that it's ideals best fit with your sheltered lifestyle? :P

Anyways, although i'm not an atheist, a popular book seems to be 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. Haven't read it yet, but I plan to at some point.
mds1303
Posts: 55
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5/11/2010 9:27:09 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
lol good joke saying the Bible, but in all honesty I was looking for something more like a book written by a leading atheist like dawkins or something.....i especially like science if it centered around that i would be more prone to be open-minded as well
InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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5/11/2010 9:28:34 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:26:07 PM, MikeLoviN wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:19:49 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
Read the Qur'an. :P lol

Have you actually read it? Not just skimmed through it and decided that it's ideals best fit with your sheltered lifestyle? :P

Anyways, although i'm not an atheist, a popular book seems to be 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. Haven't read it yet, but I plan to at some point.

No, I've read it. >.<
mds1303
Posts: 55
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5/11/2010 9:29:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:18:25 PM, Puck wrote:
Also I've read your choice. Did you know that Lewis had strong pagan tendencies? :P

yes but ultimately decided upon Christianity, I kind of like that more because he was truly open minded and gave other religions a chance, however in mere Christianity he even excplains why many of them dont work

so what did you think of the book tho?
Puck
Posts: 6,457
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5/11/2010 9:42:05 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:27:09 PM, mds1303 wrote:
lol good joke saying the Bible, but in all honesty I was looking for something more like a book written by a leading atheist like dawkins or something.....i especially like science if it centered around that i would be more prone to be open-minded as well

Sure, in that case I'd suggest you stay clear of the Atheism 101 books that people will list. Read something like, John Loftus - The Christian Delusion, Bart Ehrman - Jesus Interrupted. If you have studied or are interested in studying logic, then, Sobel - Logic and Theism, or Everitt - The Non-Existence of God.
Puck
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5/11/2010 9:43:46 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:29:29 PM, mds1303 wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:18:25 PM, Puck wrote:

so what did you think of the book tho?

It's hard to distinguish the book from the arguments he makes. As personal insight into his thoughts go, sure, interesting enough. As a logical or argumentive piece - it falls short.
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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5/11/2010 9:45:18 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Read the "Christian Delusion" by John Loftus if you're serious about the challenge. Don't bother with any of the "New Atheists" (e.g. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett).
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
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Puck
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5/11/2010 9:47:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:45:18 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
Read the "Christian Delusion" by John Loftus if you're serious about the challenge. Don't bother with any of the "New Atheists" (e.g. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett).

Agree. Dennett is worth reading for his own merit - it's not really relelvant to this topic though.
popculturepooka
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5/11/2010 9:52:21 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:42:05 PM, Puck wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:27:09 PM, mds1303 wrote:
lol good joke saying the Bible, but in all honesty I was looking for something more like a book written by a leading atheist like dawkins or something.....i especially like science if it centered around that i would be more prone to be open-minded as well

Sure, in that case I'd suggest you stay clear of the Atheism 101 books that people will list. Read something like, John Loftus - The Christian Delusion, Bart Ehrman - Jesus Interrupted. If you have studied or are interested in studying logic, then, Sobel - Logic and Theism, or Everitt - The Non-Existence of God.

You beat me to it. Those were exactly the books I was going to recommend except those seem a little bit too advanced. Especially Sobel. He has a terrible writing style. And spends WAY too man pages on ontological arguments.

I suppose if he wanted really science based arguments he could go with Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, but I thought it was weak.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Puck
Posts: 6,457
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5/11/2010 9:57:08 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:52:21 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:42:05 PM, Puck wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:27:09 PM, mds1303 wrote:
lol good joke saying the Bible, but in all honesty I was looking for something more like a book written by a leading atheist like dawkins or something.....i especially like science if it centered around that i would be more prone to be open-minded as well

Sure, in that case I'd suggest you stay clear of the Atheism 101 books that people will list. Read something like, John Loftus - The Christian Delusion, Bart Ehrman - Jesus Interrupted. If you have studied or are interested in studying logic, then, Sobel - Logic and Theism, or Everitt - The Non-Existence of God.

You beat me to it. Those were exactly the books I was going to recommend except those seem a little bit too advanced. Especially Sobel. He has a terrible writing style. And spends WAY too man pages on ontological arguments.

I suppose if he wanted really science based arguments he could go with Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, but I thought it was weak.

Meh, science arguments can only go so far into explaining how something is or occured. Doesn't really address the core of the issue itself.
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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5/11/2010 10:19:17 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:45:18 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
Read the "Christian Delusion" by John Loftus if you're serious about the challenge. Don't bother with any of the "New Atheists" (e.g. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett).

Tell me, what are these advanced arguments that these other Atheists put forth that are better than Hitchens and Dawkins. >:[
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Puck
Posts: 6,457
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5/11/2010 10:20:14 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 10:19:17 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 5/11/2010 9:45:18 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
Read the "Christian Delusion" by John Loftus if you're serious about the challenge. Don't bother with any of the "New Atheists" (e.g. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett).

Tell me, what are these advanced arguments that these other Atheists put forth that are better than Hitchens and Dawkins. >:[

Read the book and find out lol. Seriously, not even in the same class.
GeoLaureate8
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5/11/2010 10:26:36 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 10:21:08 PM, Puck wrote:
A simple chapter search on the book will give you the argument titles - it's a collation from different authors.

Why haven't I heard of this guy? Does he do formal debates?
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Puck
Posts: 6,457
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5/11/2010 10:30:49 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 10:26:36 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 5/11/2010 10:21:08 PM, Puck wrote:
A simple chapter search on the book will give you the argument titles - it's a collation from different authors.

Why haven't I heard of this guy? Does he do formal debates?

Not that I've seen. Not that that is conclusive.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com...
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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5/11/2010 10:34:16 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 10:30:49 PM, Puck wrote:
At 5/11/2010 10:26:36 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 5/11/2010 10:21:08 PM, Puck wrote:
A simple chapter search on the book will give you the argument titles - it's a collation from different authors.

Why haven't I heard of this guy? Does he do formal debates?

Not that I've seen. Not that that is conclusive.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com...

He's done two that I know of. One with David Wood and another with D'nesh D'Souza. At the risk of sounding biased, lol, I think he lost both of them. He's just not a good public debater, IMHO. But like you said, that really doesn't say much about the positions.
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GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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5/11/2010 11:02:49 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Chapters from Christian Delusion (Loftus):

Chapter One is written by anthropologist David Eller and discusses how Christianity is a phenomena that can be understood purely on cultural and sociological grounds.

Not compelling. People who are raised Christian are generally born Christian.

Chapter Two is by psychologist Valerie Tarico who examines the concept of belief (or faith) as it is presently understood by neurologists and shows that it is rarely based on evidence or arguments.

Seems interesting. Though, the conclusion is obvious. That's why it's called faith.

Chapter Three is by pharmacist Jason Long who deals with how religious ideas develop in people and how they hold on to them regardless of the evidence.

Sounds like one of those that tries to say that religions are there because people want to believe in an afterlife and a heavenly father to take care of them. This is an assumption that I hear all atheists make (even ones i like) and it's a false argument. Christianity, Islam, and their offshoots (Baha'i and Zoroastrianism too) are primarily the only ones that have an afterlife. Jews don't have an afterlife, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Scientologists have reincarnation (no afterlife, just living several dreadful lives until the cycle ends), and Buddhists and Taoists reject a soul and an afterlife.

Chapter Four is by former Pastor and Christian apologist John Loftus who explains his Outsider Test for Faith. He invites people to "step outside" of their belief system and evaluate their religion in the same way they would evaluate a religion that they do not hold.

Cool.

Chapter Five is by librarian Ed Babinski who has studied Young Earth Creationism extensively. He clearly presents the pre-scientific understanding of the cosmos as held by biblical writers and shows that it is impossible to reconcile that understanding with what is currently known in science.

Not compelling. It's obvious that Biblical cosmology contradicts real cosmology.

Chapter Six is by author (The Rejection of Pascal's Wager: A Skeptic's Guide to the Bible and the Historical Jesus ) Paul Tobin who shows that the historical criticism of the Bible reveals that it contains errors, inconsistencies, myths, legends, and forgeries.

Yeah, sounds good. Though, Acharya S. already covered this in her book "Christ Conspiracy."

Chapter Seven has John Loftus returning to demonstrate how the Bible fails to communicate clearly. He shows how interpretational conflicts over the meaning of Scripture has led to millions of deaths as well as untold suffering through the ages. He argues that one would expect an omniscient God to be able to communicate his will in a much better fashion.

I wouldn't say "interpretational conflicts." The Bible makes it very clear when it commands a genocide or states "The Lord is a man of war. The Lord is his name."

Chapter Eight is by biblical scholar Hector Avalos and discusses why the God of the Old Testament is a cruel and monstrous tyrant in spite of Christian apologists attempt to justify him.

Hitchens and Dawkins already covered that, and did a superb job.

Chapter Nine is my favorite chapter in the book. In it John Loftus returns to lay out the problem of animal suffering and examine 8 different ways Christians have tried to reconcile that suffering with a good God. He shows convincingly that each Christian answer fails and that there is no reconciliation possible.

Problem of Evil. Eh. Though, the animal suffering argument seems unique.

Chapter Ten is by NT scholar Robert Price who, in his own unique and sarcastic way, demolishes the attempts by evangelicals to wiggle out of the implications of biblical criticism.

Cool.

Chapter Eleven is by historian Richard Carrier who applies the Outsider Test of Faith to the "historical evidence" put forward by Christian apologists for the resurrection. He demonstrates conclusively that if one treats the NT as historians treat every other ancient document, the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead is untenable.

Not compelling. The resurrection doesn't concern me too much. Rising from the dead doesn't prove it's doctrines are correct. Many other Biblical figures could perform magic and miracles including pharaohs, doesn't prove them doctrinally correct.

Chapter Twelve brings John Loftus back again to show that Jesus of Nazareth is but one in a long list of failed apocalyptic prophets. He demonstrates that Jesus taught the world would end in the lifetime of the disciples and that all of the first century believers including Paul thought Jesus would return at any moment. He goes on to show how Christians have had to rethink their eschatological ideas in light of the failure of Jesus to return.

Eh. I doubt that the historical Jesus made those claims to begin with.

Chapter Thirteen is a repeat performance by David Eller in which he explodes a commonly held myth that morality must be based on a divine being.

I like these kind of arguments, though Hitchens already does a fine job of covering this.

He proves that morality is merely an expression of one's culture.

Uh, not the best alternative argument.

Chapter Fourteen has Hector Avalos returning to deal with the argument put forward by Christians that the holocaust and the other atrocities committed by Adolph Hitler were a result of Darwinian or atheistic ideology. He shows that instead Hitler's motivating factors were actually the example of the Roman Catholic Church and the teaching of Martin Luther about the Jews.

Who cares. Not very convincing and irrelevant. There are no doctrines of atheism that command them to kill. There is no connection between atheism and killing.

Chapter Fifteen is another essay by Richard Carrier in which he shows the absurdity of the Christian claim that modern science is based upon the precepts of the Christian worldview.

Irrelevant.

Conclusion: Doesn't sound like these guys demolish Hitchens or Dawkins. At all.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
belle
Posts: 4,113
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5/11/2010 11:11:25 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 11:02:49 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
Conclusion: Doesn't sound like these guys demolish Hitchens or Dawkins. At all.

no one claimed they did. the point (i think) is that hitchens, dawkins, et al present oversimplified talking points rather than really serious argumentation. i haven't read the book but it appears to be scholarship of a deeper quality. don't get me wrong, those guys are entertaining... they're just not the end all be all.
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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5/11/2010 11:22:22 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:07:08 PM, mds1303 wrote:
Hey I finally have some free time from school since it is summer and I thought of an idea that might be cool......if i have any takers?


I would like atheist's to vote on which book they want me to read that best supports why there is no God, and those same people have to read my choice....

My choice is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

We also have to agree to read the books with as much of an open mind as possible.....

let me know what you think.....

Children of the Matrix by David Icke
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
Puck
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5/11/2010 11:39:03 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Your dismissals are cursory. Read the book or not, it's really not my concern, but chapter titles are not arguments. :)
Freeman
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5/11/2010 11:49:44 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 9:07:08 PM, mds1303 wrote:
Hey I finally have some free time from school since it is summer and I thought of an idea that might be cool......if i have any takers?


I would like atheist's to vote on which book they want me to read that best supports why there is no God, and those same people have to read my choice....

My choice is Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

We also have to agree to read the books with as much of an open mind as possible.....

let me know what you think.....

Why I Am Not A Christian - Bertrand Russell

Letter To A Christian Nation - Sam Harris (Brilliant, Beautiful, and surprisingly short: It takes about 2-3 hours to read.)

The Blackwell Companion To Atheism - (If you can survive that powerhouse of religious destruction, then I give up: nothing I can write will convince you of anything.) http://www.debate.org...

Don't listen to the people who say that The God Delusion is a must read; it's good, but its not the best. They probably haven't read as many books on religious as I have. Letter To A Christian Nation lays waste to Christian thought like no other book, and it does so with remarkable eloquence. Some liberal Christians will probably go away from the book feeling as if they were not sufficiently addressed, but that's because it mainly focuses on the most mainstream forms of Christian thought.

You can also read a short essay I wrote, which will follow in the next post.
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
Freeman
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5/11/2010 11:51:08 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
The existence of the God of classical theism (i.e. an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent God) is improbable on both evidential and a priori grounds. This assertion is supported by two basic contentions. Firstly, the suffering resultant from animal predation and natural selection are much better explained under naturalism than theism. Secondly, the hiddenness of God and the weak evidence surrounding theism actually represents the foundation of a strong atheistic proof. When these arguments are combined and viewed in light of the absence of evidence for God, they provide a strong cumulative case for atheism.

========> The Case Against Theism: Why Science And Philosophy Have Killed God <==========

C1: The Evidential Argument From Evil

The predictive power of metaphysical naturalism to account for natural evils makes atheism objectively more likely to be true than theism. Consider, for instance, the clumsiness with which evolution has assembled all living organisms. The development of life on Earth was engineered by natural selection – a mechanism that has left 99.9 percent of all of the species that have ever lived on Earth extinct. [1] Likewise, the struggle for survival in nature guarantees that most animals will suffer horribly as they get outcompeted for resources and die from lack of sustenance or from being eaten. Evolution is – in a very real way – advanced by the grinding of teeth upon bone. And even if a creature can avoid being preyed upon, they will still suffer and languish in their old age. Of course, all of this suffering is much more likely to occur given naturalism than it is given theism. Thus, all things being equal, naturalism is a much better and more parsimonious hypothesis than theism is.

Paul Draper takes this theme and uses it to create his version of an argument from evil. It is slightly divergent from other arguments from evil, but it still touches upon the same key points. And he bases his argument on the following evidence statement:

E: For a variety of biological and ecological reasons, organisms compete for survival, with some having an advantage in the struggle for survival over others; as a result, many organisms, including many sentient beings, never flourish because they die before maturity, many others barely survive but languish for most or all of their lives, and those that reach maturity and flourish for much of their lives usually languish in old age; in the case of human beings and some nonhuman animals as well, languishing often involves intense or prolonged suffering.

P1: We know that E is true.
P2: Naturalism has much more predictive power with respect to E than theism does (i.e., E's truth is antecedently many times more probable given naturalism than it is given theism).
P3: Naturalism is more plausible than theism (i.e., naturalism is more probable than theism independent of all evidence).
C: So, other evidence held equal, theism is very probably false. (Draper [2])

Naturalism is, by its very nature, a simpler hypothesis than theism, and it has at least the same explanatory scope as theism (i.e. there is no observable phenomena which must necessarily be subject to a supernatural explanation). Ergo, the weight of the evidence regarding evil points strongly to naturalism, which if true entails that theism is false. While it is possible that a God – for reasons unbeknownst to humans – has morally sufficient reasons for allowing such a barbaric system of creation: it is highly unlikely given the predictive power of naturalism to account for natural evils. In light of this data, theism is very likely to be false.

C2: The Argument From Divine Hiddenness

The hiddenness of God from human perception provides strong grounds to suppose that the God of theism isn't actually real. For example, if God wanted humanity to know that he existed, as many theists often propose, then he should have brought about a situation whereby everyone reasonably believed in him. Therefore, if God existed and God wanted us to know this, then reasonable non-belief should not occur. But reasonable non-belief does occur because God has refused to provide any compelling evidence that he exists, if he does exist. In other words, the central concepts about God's nature necessarily entail a contradiction. Logically, it then follows that God cannot exist since his properties are irreconcilable.

John Schellenberg was one of the original pioneers behind the argument from divine hiddenness. And he surmises this argument in the following syllogism:

P1: If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God are in a position to participate in such relationships--i.e., able to do so just by trying to.
P2: No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists.
P3: If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists (from 1 and 2).
P4: It is not the case that all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists: there is nonresistant nonbelief; God is hidden.
P5: It is not the case that there is a perfectly loving God (from 3 and 4).
P6: If God exists, God is perfectly loving.
C: It is not the case that God exists (from 5 and 6). (Schellenberg [3])

Of course, there are some who argue that free will would be compromised if every single person actually did believe in God. But this objection cannot be valid – for there are certainly ways in which an omnipotent God could reveal himself to the world so that every person capable of believing in him actually did believe in him. Surely, a sufficiently persuasive display of magical powers from a deity would be enough to convince any skeptic. As a result, God's failure to reveal himself clearly provides strong grounds to conclude that He isn't real.

Conclusion::

Given the paucity of evidence for theism and the strong evidential grounds for atheism, the God hypothesis is simply untenable. As was demonstrated earlier, naturalism has more predictive power than theism in accounting for evils that can be found in nature. Consequently, the occurrence of natural evils makes it reasonable to doubt the truth of theism. Likewise, the hiddenness of God provides an equally compelling reason to suppose that the God of theism doesn't exist. Given the current evidence, if a theistic God did exist, then that God wants us to believe in him based almost entirely on faith. Unfortunately, this faith based system leads billions of different people to have radically divergent beliefs about God. But this whole scenario just can't be right - for it is a very strange sort of loving God, indeed, that would set up an arbitrary salvation scheme in which an accident of a person's birth would largely determine their fate for eternity. Therefore, on balance, the weight of the evidence leans heavily in favor of atheism. And thus, there are good reasons to suppose that God does not exist.

Sources:
1. The Earth's history of mass extinctions [A-B]
A. http://www.lassp.cornell.edu...
B. Raup, David M. Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck? W.W. Norton and Company. New York. 1991. (pp. 3-6) http://books.google.com...
2. http://www.infidels.org...
3. http://www.infidels.org...
Chancellor of Propaganda and Foreign Relations in the Franklin administration.

"I intend to live forever. So far, so good." -- Steven Wright
GeoLaureate8
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5/11/2010 11:56:56 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 11:39:03 PM, Puck wrote:
Your dismissals are cursory. Read the book or not, it's really not my concern, but chapter titles are not arguments. :)

I know, but I can tell if I find the argument is relevant or not or if they're new ones I haven't heard. I was expecting some compelling new arguments I never heard before, the way you guys presented these other Atheists. I have no intention of accepting or dismissing. I'm honestly just curious about these supposed "advanced" arguments.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
TheSkeptic
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5/12/2010 12:00:14 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 5/11/2010 11:56:56 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:
At 5/11/2010 11:39:03 PM, Puck wrote:
Your dismissals are cursory. Read the book or not, it's really not my concern, but chapter titles are not arguments. :)

I know, but I can tell if I find the argument is relevant or not or if they're new ones I haven't heard. I was expecting some compelling new arguments I never heard before, the way you guys presented these other Atheists. I have no intention of accepting or dismissing. I'm honestly just curious about these supposed "advanced" arguments.

But you have no clue how detailed their depth is simply by reading the chapter titles. There are many philosophers who produce articles on the problem of evil, but the depth and power of their arguments are much better than the more casual ones used by Hitchens, Dawkins, etc.