A More Charitable Atheism: Essays on Life without-But Not Necessarily against-God

A More Charitable Atheism: Essays on Life without-But Not Necessarily against-God

by James A. Metzger


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This anthology consists of fourteen topically arranged essays that explore a form of humanism characterized by epistemic humility, a progressive ethical orientation, as well as a respect for the positive features of religion.

According to recent polls, more Americans find themselves uncomfortable maintaining traditional religious beliefs and moral commitments—a trend driven in large part by the Millennials, and one likely to continue with subsequent generations. As a professor who has regular interactions with students of this generation, the author has discovered that those who neither wish to affiliate with one particular religious tradition or community, as perhaps their parents and grandparents did, nor drop religion altogether fear that there are few if any truly attractive alternatives—alternatives that would help them find meaning, offer sound moral guidance, and navigate life’s most challenging times. This book in part aims to show that both meaning and resources for crafting a philosophically sound moral compass can be found outside the sacred canopy.

These essays, however, are also the outcome of the author’s own journey from mainline Protestant Christianity to secular humanism. The primary catalyst for this transition was the onset of a serious autoimmune illness, which forced him to confront various issues in philosophy of religion, particularly the problem of suffering and evil. This autobiographical component is woven into several chapters with the intention of showing that in a postmodern milieu we can no longer attribute major worldview shifts to solitary, dispassionate rational inquiry.

Although essays have been composed in such a way that each may stand alone, a feature of the book that allows readers to approach chapters in any order they choose, they nevertheless have been arranged into four sections that reflect the author’s personal journey. Major topics include: 1) Chronic Illness and the Death of God; 2) Epistemic Limitations and Respect for Persons; 3) A Humanist Approach to Reading the Bible and; 4) Advantages of Ethical Reasoning without God.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780761871644
Publisher: Hamilton Books
Publication date: 10/04/2019
Pages: 266
Sales rank: 812,615
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

James A. Metzger is author of four books and numerous journal articles in religion, philosophy, and literature. He has taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Luther College, East Carolina University, and Pitt Community College.

Table of Contents


Section I: How I Arrived Here: Illness, The Death of God, and A Turn Toward Secular Humanism

Chapter 1: Believing in Belief
Chapter 2: Illness and Deicide
Chapter 3: Is It Wrong to Accept the Gift of Salvation?

Section II: Epistemic Limitations and Respect for Persons

Chapter 4: What Atheists Want
Chapter 5: Three Reasons Why Atheists Should Be More Charitable
Chapter 6: Have the New Atheists Been Good for Atheism?
Chapter 7: Can Liberal Christians Save the Church? A Humanist Approach to Progressive Christian Theologies

Section III: A Humanist Approach to Reading the Bible

Chapter 8: Why We Must Treat the Bible No Differently Than Any Other Book
Chapter 9: Spending Christmas with Linus
Chapter 10: Taking Paul Seriously
Chapter 11: Can Early Christian Faith Remain a Rational Option Today?
Chapter 12: Why Atheists Should Read—and Love—the Book of Job

Section IV: Advantages and Consequences of Ethical Reasoning without God

Chapter 13: Ethics is Just Safer without God
Chapter 14: Humanism, Illness, and Elective Death: A Case Study in Utilitarian Ethics

About the Author

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