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The Six Ways Of AtheismBook review

by Geoffrey Berg

I found this book titled The Six Ways Of Atheism at my local library so I thought I would compare it to  by A C Grayling, which is possibly the best set of arguments for atheism I've seen. The title is an obvious nod to "The Five Ways" name often given to St Thomas Aquinas's arguments for the existence of God.

The introduction was not encouraging. The author has a whine about not being a professional philosopher and asks that his arguments be treated on their merits without considering the writer's academic qualifications. (An academic philosopher friend of mine translated this to "It took me ages to find a publisher for this and the professional philosophers I keep emailing don't reply so I can only assume everyone's biased against me for reasons of professional jealousy." The book is self-published.) While this is perfectly reasonable (we have a name for not doing it - "ad hominem") it usually doesn't need mentioning. He then goes on to describe his "six ways". Two of them are totally original, two are massive reworkings of the works of such dunderheads as St Anselm, St Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Emmanuel Kant, Rene Descartes and others who completely missed the point, and two seem to be logical clarifications of the mistakes most people make when talking about religion.

The first chapter is titled "The Aggregate Of Qualities Argument" and is one the two which contain original and never before thought about arguments developed by the author. In summary, it goes like this:

  • It is highly improbable that there is a being who is omnipotent.
  • It is highly unlikely that there is a being who is omniscient
  • It is highly improbable that there is a being who is omnipresent
  • Therefore it is much more unlikely that any being would possess all three attributes
  • Therefore there is no god.

Wow! Nobody has ever thought of that before. I didn't bother to read any further as I think the whole lot could be distilled down to "The Argument From Hubris".

Back to the library it goes.

Copyright 1998- Peter Bowditch

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