"50 Great Myths About Atheism" is a Great Book!

I have found that even among the very best Christian apologists there is a woeful, and perhaps even culpable ignorance about atheism. As I previously said, this is remedied by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk's excellent book, 50 Great Myths About Atheism.In what follows I want to write a brief review of it while making a few observations. I will probably write more about it from time to time, especially when one of these myths is brought up in our discussions here.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that Richard Dawkins has thankfully changed his mind about recommending books like this one, in which religious beliefs are treated with respect.

The second thing I noticed was the title itself. The authors had edited a previous book titled, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists,which is a great book. Guy P. Harrison has written three books of 50 reasons, beliefs and questions himself. Why 50? I don't know but authors and editors like to publish follow-up books with similar titles. It can become their signature book titles, unique titles assigned to them alone. I am doing likewise with some of my book titles. My anthologies are being titled after the books of the so-called New Atheists. There is something pretty cool about doing this, although I have been criticized for not being original with my titles. Okay, I understand this, but these books have become my signature titles too. I would hope others would do likewise with other religions other than Christianity (i.e., "The Mormon Delusion" and so forth).

I found it interesting that this book had a somewhat recent predecessor, Douglas Kruger's What Is Atheism?Judging from the table of contents he dealt with a few of the most important myths himself. But the authors don't compare notes, so to speak, or show any awareness it exists. That's unfortunate for my online friend Kruger, and for readers who might be better informed from the interaction and the support from a similar thinker.

In the Introduction to their book the authors tell us why it's needed, how they chose the myths to be dealt with, and what they hope to accomplish.

The book is needed, as they say, because "a falsehood repeated often enough will eventually be taken as truth. This is, of course, likely to be true if those who propagate such falsehoods also control large segments of the mass media" (p. 1). Because these myths are so prevalent they have "had outright harmful consequences for people known to be or believed to be atheists" (p. 4). They cite a recent sociological survey in the USA that revealed "atheists constitute the most disliked among marginalized groups" (p. 5). And they cite the example of Damon Folwer, whose life was threatened for objecting to teacher led prayers in his school.

They chose the myths to be dealt with very carefully, wanting to draw the line between myths and legitimate disagreements people of faith have with atheism. "In each case, we are convinced that something is being claimed that is, if not straightforwardly false, at least seriously and demonstrably misleading" (p. 5). In order to show they are not picking "easy targets" they cite examples with the actual words said. That's the best anyone can expect. If anyone still objects with the "No True Scotchman" fallacy (my words) then the authors say, "Perhaps we can cover your favorites in a further book or edition of this one" (p. 7). ;-)

As to what they think their book accomplishes, they do not claim "to have proved that atheism is right," only that they have debunked "a fairly significant chunk of popular myths about atheism" (p. 8).

I have dealt with some of these same myths in my writings, especially in God or Godless?: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions.I was fortunate that I didn't need to search for actual examples of myth #'s 1, 11, 16, 20, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 46, and 47. Dr. Randal Rauser provided the fodder himself. If anyone thinks Blackford and Schuklenk chose straw-man examples then consider a scholarly moderate evangelical like him. If anyone wants to see how I answered these particular myths then readers might want to get my book, although, if you get theirs you probably won't need to see how I dealt with them.

Very highly recommended. I sincerely think it will help contain the spread of the religious propaganda that threatens atheists with harm. Congrats to them for a superior job well-done!