Atheism and Theistic Belief

Christian Miller

in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 4

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199656417
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191742163 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 4

Atheism and Theistic Belief

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This chapter shows that despite its popularity, eliminativism is not the only option for the atheist to adopt. It draws on recent work in sociology, psychology, economics, and other related fields to begin to sketch some reasons why atheists should reconsider the eliminativist approach. The chapter is structured as follows. Section I starts with recent work in meta-ethics by providing an overview of the leading options the moral error theorist has in responding to what (in her mind) are widely held false ethical beliefs. Section II then takes this error's theoretic framework from meta-ethics and shows how a parallel set of issues arises for the atheist with respect to genuine theistic believers. Section III summarizes a range of empirical research which suggests that theistic beliefs and practices are positively correlated with a number of widely held social goods. This research is used to argue that, all things considered, perhaps atheists should not work towards the promotion of a broadly secular society. Section IV considers a number of objections to this claim, and Section V concludes with a discussion of an additional option for the atheist to consider.

Keywords: eliminativism; meta-ethics; atheists; ethical beliefs; theism; social goods

Chapter.  14692 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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