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).

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A review of 50 Voices of Disbelief in the International Journal for Psychology of Religion

This review of 50 Voices of Disbelief is largely an attempt to categorise the arguments from a psychological perspective. It's still a positive review overall, and I found it quite interesting the way the author goes about pigeonholing the contributors. It concludes:
It is clear from reading this book that there are plenty of reasons for not believing in a god. Some that are offered in this book are clearly more compelling and more widely cited than others. And, at least as far as this book is concerned, people’s reasons for not believing appear to be related to how they feel religion has oppressed them. Scholars interested in a nonrandom
sample of generally well-written reasons for disbelief may find this book of interest.
H/T Udo (again)


James Sweet said...

And, at least as far as this book is concerned, people’s reasons for not believing appear to be related to how they feel religion has oppressed them.

In fairness, there is probably some truth to this. There are many, many paths to arrive at a certain conclusion (even the correct one!), and moreover it's no secret that if religion were stripped of its worst abuses, they'd be able to retain a lot of potential atheists simply by not giving them an incentive to think about it all that much.

I can't say for sure I would have arrived at atheism were it not for how much of an aesthetic and social mismatch the Mormon church (where I was raised) was for me. I suspect I would have got there anyway, but I can't deny that I was initially impelled away because I just didn't enjoy the singing, the praying, or most of the people.

Were I raised Quaker or Unitarian, I could see myself having settled into a comfortable agnosticism instead. "Of course I don't take it literally! But hey, I like these people, so let's not ask too many more questions past that, mmm'kay?"

Obviously this is not true for everyone, of course. But it's no secret that there are many within the atheist community who were initially inspired to think deeply about these questions simply because their religious environment sucked for them.

Russell Blackford said...

Yes, I think that's true. I don't think it's a bad thing that people are often motivated by the oppression that a religion or a political ideology, or even a system of moral norms, causes them. If it drives them to consider how cogent the arguments are in its favour, and they find that the arguments for it are weak, and that there are good arguments for being sceptical about it ... well, I think that's fine. And I think it's fine for them to lay down what their path was for the benefit of others.