Normative objections to Atheism

Book chapter


Evans, C. Stephen. (2019). Normative objections to Atheism. In In Oppy, Graham (Ed.). A companion to Atheism and philosophy pp. 491-505 Wiley-Blackwell.
AuthorsEvans, C. Stephen
EditorsOppy, Graham
Abstract

[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.

Page range491-505
Year2019
Book titleA companion to Atheism and philosophy
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
Place of publicationHoboken, NJ, USA
ISBN9781119119111
9781119119180
1119119189
1119119111
Web address (URL)https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/acu/reader.action?docID=5740179&ppg=507
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print06 May 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Nov 2021
Permalink -

https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8x0yq/normative-objections-to-atheism

Restricted files

Publisher's version

  • 116
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 2
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month
These values are for the period from 19th October 2020, when this repository was created.

Export as

Related outputs

Living "before God" : A Kierkegaardian view of human spirituality
Evans, C. Stephen. (2019). Living "before God" : A Kierkegaardian view of human spirituality. In In Crisp, Thomas M., Porter, Steven L. and Ten Elshof, Gregg A. (Ed.). Psychology and spiritual formation in dialogue : Moral and spiritual change in Christian perspective pp. 77-103 InterVarsity Press.
A philosophical response to David Brown's Divine Humanity
Evans, C. Stephen. (2018). A philosophical response to David Brown's Divine Humanity. In In Brewer, Christopher R. (Ed.). Christian theology and the transformation of natural religion : Essays in honor of David Brown pp. 71-79 Peeters Publishers.
The naïve teleological argument : An argument from design for ordinary people
Evans, C. Stephen. (2018). The naïve teleological argument : An argument from design for ordinary people. In In Walls, Jerry L. and Dougherty, Trent (Ed.). pp. 108-122 Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190842215.003.0007
God and moral obligation
Evans, Charles. (2013). God and moral obligation Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696680.001.0001
Doing psychology as a Christian: A plea for wholeness
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2012). Doing psychology as a Christian: A plea for wholeness. Journal of Psychology and Theology. 40(1), pp. 32 - 36. https://doi.org/10.1177/009164711204000106
Religious experience and the question of whether belief in god required evidence
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2011). Religious experience and the question of whether belief in god required evidence. In In K. J. Clark and R. J. VanArragon (Ed.). Evidence and Religious Belief pp. 37 - 51 Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603718.001.0001
Faith and reason in Kierkegaard's concluding unscientific postscript
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2010). Faith and reason in Kierkegaard's concluding unscientific postscript. In In R. A. Furtak (Ed.). Kierkegaard's 'Concluding Unscientific Postscript': A critical guide pp. 204 - 218 Cambridge University Press.
Natural signs and knowledge of god: A new look at theistic arguments
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2010). Natural signs and knowledge of god: A new look at theistic arguments Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217168.001.0001
Wisdom as conceptual understanding: A Christian Platonist perspective
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2010). Wisdom as conceptual understanding: A Christian Platonist perspective. Faith and Philosophy. 27(4), pp. 369 - 381.
Interview with C Stephen Evans: Humanizers versus limiters of science, the role of philosophical assumptions in psychology and reasons for dualism
Evans, Charles Stephen and Cantrell, Michael A.. (2009). Interview with C Stephen Evans: Humanizers versus limiters of science, the role of philosophical assumptions in psychology and reasons for dualism. Edification: Journal of the society for Christian Psychology.
Merold Westphal on the sociopolitical implications of Kierkegaard's thought
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2009). Merold Westphal on the sociopolitical implications of Kierkegaard's thought. In In B. K. Putt (Ed.). Gazing through a prism darkly: Reflections on Merold Westphal's hermeneutical epistemology pp. 35 - 45 Fordham University Press.
Kierkegaard: An introduction
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2009). Kierkegaard: An introduction Cambridge University Press.
The historical reliability of John's Gospel: From what perspective should it be assessed?
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2008). The historical reliability of John's Gospel: From what perspective should it be assessed? In In R. Bauckham and C. Mosser (Ed.). The Gospel of John and Christian theology pp. 91 - 119 Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co..
Kierkegaard and the limits of reason: Can there be a responsible fideism?
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2008). Kierkegaard and the limits of reason: Can there be a responsible fideism? Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia.
Can love be commanded? Kierkegaard's view of neighbor love
Evans, Charles Stephen. (2008). Can love be commanded? Kierkegaard's view of neighbor love. In In C. A. Boyd (Ed.). Visions of Agapé: Problems and Possibilities in Human and Divine Love pp. 73 - 83 Ashgate Publishing Limited.