Why Atheism?

1 February 2006

George H. Smith, author of Atheism: The Case against God, has recently written another work defending atheism. This book, however, is quite different from its predecessor. While The Case against God was trying to establish justified belief in atheism, the new book has a much more modest goal:

…but I now wish to discuss another interpretation of Why Atheism?- namely, why should anyone, especially the religious believer, take the time and trouble to consider the atheistic point of view?

In other words, Smith’s new effort is primarily concerned with showing that atheism ought to be considered. However, I already agree with this proposition. Consequently, much of Why Atheism? I find agreeable, and so I find this new work to be relatively useless.

Smith provides a critique of the ontological argument (which is an argument I never supported). On top of this, he provides reasons to take philosophy seriously. He also offers important historical facts related to atheism. I find all of this material agreeable, except for a few of Smith’s implied claims and innuendoes.

The only thing I perhaps would find objectionable in Smith’s book is his chapter on “Irreverent Questions about God”. In this chapter, he describes several “problems” with the concept of an omnipotent and omniscient God. However, he does not get very deep into the issue and thus one would be better off reading his previous work for a more detailed analysis. His chapter on morality is also very slim compared to The Case against God.

I was disappointed in Why Atheism?, but that could be because of my own expectations. Why Atheism? could certainly give someone a reason to take atheism seriously. Other than that, however, this book does not provide anything valuable. I recommend Atheism: The Case against God instead of this book for an introduction to atheism.


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