Is it possible for the nonbeliever to lead a happy and meaningful life?
This is one question George H. Smith, defender of reason and personal liberty and author of an influential contemporary classic on nonbelief, seeks to answer in Why Atheism? Smith reviews the historical roots of nonbelief going back to the ancient Greeks, argues that philosophy can serve as an important alternative to religion, and defends reason as the most reliable method humans have for establishing truth and conducting one's life.
Why Atheism? tackles a wide range of subjects, some of which have never been thoroughly analyzed from an atheistic point of view. Beginning with the problem of atheism's credibility, Smith points out the various ways in which religious opponents have sought to exclude atheism from serious consideration. He also analyzes a number of classical philosophical issues, such as the nature of knowledge and belief, concluding that modern atheism is largely an unintended consequence of the religious diversity brought about by the Protestant Reformation.
Two chapters are devoted to ethics, one focusing on the ethics of belief with particular attention given to the views of Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. Other chapters discuss the persecution of religious dissenters and the features of an ethical system without belief in God. Smith's characteristic lucidity, analytical rigor, and wit make Why Atheism? an accessible and enjoyable guide to living a positive life without belief in a supreme being.
Some of these competing belief systems have displayed terrific energy in recent...