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Atheists are frequently demonized as arrogant intellectuals antagonistic to religion devoid of moral sentiments advocates of an "anything goes" lifestyle. Now in this revealing volume nineteen leading philosophers open a window on the inner life of atheism shattering these common stereotypes as they reveal how they came to turn away from religious belief. These highly engaging personal essays capture the marvelous diversity to be found among atheists providing a portrait that will surprise most readers. Many of the authors for example express great affection for particular religious traditions even as they explain why they cannot in good conscience embrace them. None of the contributors dismiss religious belief as stupid or primitive and several even express regret that they cannot or can no longer believe. Perhaps more important in these reflective pieces they offer fresh insight into some of the oldest and most difficult problems facing the human mind and spirit. For instance if God is dead is everything permitted? Philosophers Without Gods demonstrates convincingly with arguments that date back to Plato that morality is independent of the existence of God. Indeed every writer in this volume adamantly affirms the objectivity of right and wrong. Moreover they contend that secular life can provide rewards as great and as rich as religious life. A naturalistic understanding of the human condition presents a set of challenges--to pursue our goals without illusions to act morally without hope of reward--challenges that can impart a lasting value to finite and fragile human lives. Collectively these essays highlight the richness of atheistic belief--not only as a valid alternative to religion but as a profoundly fulfilling and moral way of life.

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