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The Atheist's Creed, by Michael Palmer

The Atheist's Creed

By Michael Palmer


An invaluable introduction to non-belief, combining extensive commentary and analysis with extracts from the writings of key atheist thinkers from the classical world to the present day.

Available as: Paperback

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Print Paperback 21.75
ISBN: 9780718830830
Specifications: 244x170mm, 356pp, b&w illustrations
Publication: March 2010

About this Book

In The Atheist's Creed a prominent and widely-read contemporary philosopher, Dr Michael Palmer, presents the most comprehensive anthology of the major philosophical arguments for atheism now before the public. While the so-called 'new atheism' of Richard Dawkins and others has attracted considerable publicity, it is these philosophical arguments that down the ages have provided the principal landmarks in the development of the increasingly widespread belief that no God exists. Using a combination of extracts, detailed introductions, biographies and extensive bibliographies, the author guides the reader through the history of atheism, from the time of the early Greeks down to the present day. In this analysis particular attention is given to the writings of Hume, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud.

The Atheist's Creed requires no specialist knowledge of philosophy. Each chapter is structured around a single theme and the various extracts are arranged to emphasise the full force of each argument against theism. The result is a compelling and powerful assessment of the case for atheism, which will be essential and fascinating reading for student and non-student alike and for all those concerned with the fundamental question: whether or not there is a God.



1. The Meaning of Atheism
  A. Ernest Nagel: Philosophical Concepts of Atheism
  B. Antony Flew: The Presumption of Atheism
  C. Thomas Henry Huxley: Agnosticism
  D. Leslie Stephen: An Agnostic's Reply
Guide to Further Reading

2. The Origins of Atheism
  A. Epicurus: Letter to Herodotus
  B. Lucretius: De Rerum Natura
  C. Sextus Empiricus: Scepticism
  D. Cicero: De Natura Deorum
Guide to Further Reading

3. A Critique of Two Arguments for God's Existence
  A. Baron D'Holbach: The System of Nature
  B. David Hume: The Argument from Analogy
  C. Stephen Jay Gould: Darwin and Paley meet the Invisible Hand
  D. Victor Stenger: The Uncongenial Universe
Guide to Further Reading

4. The Problem of Evil
  A. Fydor Dostoevsky: Rebellion
  B. John Stuart Mill: Natural Evil
  C. Michael Martin: A Criticism of Soul Making Theodicy
Guide to Further Reading

5. Morality and Religion
  A. Plato: The Euthyphro Dilemma
  B. Bertrand Russell: Why I am Not a Christian
  C. Kai Nielsen: Ethics Without God
  D. Friedrich Nietzsche: The Deceptions of Religion
  E. Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus
Guide to Further Reading

6. Miracles
  A. Baruch Spinoza: The Impossibility of Miracles
  B. Edward Gibbon: Miracles and the Early Church
  C. Thomas Paine: On Miracles
  D. David Hume: On Miracles
Guide to Further Reading

7. The Motivations of Belief
  A. Feuerbach
  B. Marx
  C. Freud
Guide to Further Reading


   Credo » (PDF, 18 KB)
   Introduction » (PDF, 28 KB)
   Extract from Chapter 3: A Critique of Two Arguments for God's Existence » (PDF, 240 KB)
   Extract from Chapter 4: The Problem of Evil » (PDF, 167 KB)

About the Author

Dr Michael Palmer was educated at Lancing College and St John's College, Durham. A former Teaching Fellow at McMaster University and Humboldt Fellow at Marburg University, Dr Palmer has taught at Marlborough College and Bristol University, and was for many years founding Head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at The Manchester Grammar School. His Moral Problems (Lutterworth, 1991; 2nd ed, 2005), remains the most influential school coursebook in philosophy of its generation.

His other works include Freud and Jung on Religion (1997), The Question of God (2001), Moral Problems in Medicine (2005), the two-volumed The Philosophy of Religion (2008), The Atheist's Primer (2012) and Atheism for Beginners (2013). One of the most widely-read of contemporary philosophers, his work has been translated into many languages.

Reviews and Comments

"This fine anthology of the long struggle for reason against faith will certainly help those who seek emancipation from religious tyranny."
Christopher Hitchens

"This splendid, readable, and scholarly book should be on every believer's bedside table; and committed atheists will take pleasure from both the extensive and well-chosen extracts and the author's lucid commentary on them."
Professor Peter Atkins, Lincoln College, Oxford

"With the cultural shifts taking place in the modern West, along with the ongoing rise of secularism, this book is as timely as it is helpful ... It is especially helpful to students who need a reference source that is quick and accessible ... This anthology shows just how rich and expansive atheism's history is, and we would do well to learn from it."
Kile Jones, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 19, Issue 1

"There is much here that able A level students and possibly first year undergraduates might find additionally useful, and the text would certainly be edifying to the interested non-specialist."
David Aldridge, in British Journal of Religious Education, Vol 34:1

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