About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

50 Voices of Disbelief reviewed at Open Parachute

A nice review by Ken Perrott over at Open Parachute. He begins:

Wow! A book about atheism and it’s not written by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett or Harris! That might be how some people react given the media linking of atheism with these names.

So this book is welcome partly because it helps break that knee-jerk reaction. Atheism is far more widespread than that. But it’s also welcome because many of its contributors advance interesting ideas.

Exactly! There are many people who do not believe in the existence of any God or gods, and are prepared to say so in public. Many of them have interesting reasons for their views, and it's valuable for them to speak up, even if they don't all entirely agree with each other. The ferment of debate is itself valuable. I should note that I don't agree with every idea in the book myself - how could I? - but (except in my own essay) my role as a co-editor was to do whatever I could to help the writers express their own ideas as clearly and persuasively as possible, not to impose my own. Beyond the most obvious minimal requirements (Udo and I only wanted essays from people who are, at least in some sense, atheists), the Voices of Disbelief project had no party line that everyone was expected to toe. 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists is all the more interesting for that, I think. There's something for everyone, but also something for everyone to debate. I think that's a good thing.

Perrott goes on to discuss some of the individual essays that most interested him, whether or not he entirely agreed with them. These include the pieces by Victor Stenger, John Harris, Adele Mercier, Tom Clark, Ophelia Benson, AC Grayling, Philip Kitcher, and Frieder Otto Wolf.

All in all, a gratifying review by someone who has his own take on the issues, but also "gets" the intentions of the book.

1 comment:

Brian said...

After reading abstracts of some of the essays that this article had I'm starting to get itchy feet waiting for the book to arrive. Damn you Amazon! :)