Normative objections to Atheism
Evans, C. Stephen. (2019). Normative objections to Atheism. In In Oppy, Graham (Ed.). A companion to Atheism and philosophy pp. 491-505 Wiley-Blackwell.
|Authors||Evans, C. Stephen|
[Excerpt] What might a normative objection to atheism be? There are a number of possibilities. One kind of normative objection to atheism would consist of arguments against atheism that take normativity in general or some particular kind of normativity or even particular normative facts as their starting point. Such arguments would try to show that atheism cannot adequately explain this starting point, or at least show that atheism seems less probable on the basis of these features. In many cases such argument would be combined with arguments that the features in question can be explained if theism is true. What are commonly called moral arguments for theism would be arguments of this kind. (In general any positive argument for theism can also be construed as an objection to atheism, although there could be objections to atheism that are not arguments for theism.)
A second possible thing one might mean by a normative objection to atheism would be an argument that atheism is itself practically bad in some way. Perhaps atheism is bad for the atheist, or perhaps atheism produces bad consequences for others. A good example, which will be discussed later, might be Immanuel Kant’s well‐known argument that atheism leads to a kind of moral despair, which is incompatible with the moral faith needed to live as one ought. Another example could be the common claim that atheism undermines moral character in some way, and thus that atheists are more likely to be morally inferior in some respect. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of empirical support for something in the neighborhood of this claim. A good deal of research shows that serious religious believers, who regularly attend a church, synagogue, or mosque, are significantly more likely to help others in a variety of ways. Religious people on average give more to charity than non‐religious people, and they also give more of their time to helping others. This is true not just of gifts made to religious institutions. Religious people are also more likely than non‐believers to give to non‐religious charities.1 However, since these are obviously empirical claims and not deeply philosophical, I shall not give these findings any further consideration.
It is clearly not possible in a single article to give a comprehensive treatment of such arguments. What I shall attempt to do in this chapter is describe a number of arguments of both of these two kinds that I regard as among the more promising ones, analyzing both their strengths and possible weak points.
|Book title||A companion to Atheism and philosophy|
|Place of publication||Hoboken, NJ, USA|
|Web address (URL)||https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/acu/reader.action?docID=5740179&ppg=507|
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|06 May 2019|
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|Deposited||15 Nov 2021|
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