Kai Nielsen is adjunct professor of philosophy at Concordia University
in Montreal and professor emeritus of philosophy at the University
of Calgary. Before moving to Canada Nielsen taught for many years
at New York University (NYU). He specializes in metaphilosophy,
ethics, and social and political philosophy. Nielsen has also
written about philosophy of religion, and is a leading advocate
of contemporary, atheist philosophy. He is also known for his
defense of utilitarianism, writing in response to Bernard Williams's
criticism of it.
got his B.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
and his Ph.D. at Duke University. He is the author of some 32
books and 415 articles. Member of the Royal Society of Canada
and past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association,
Nielsen is also one of the founding members of the Canadian Journal
is an important and correct way in which understanding religion
is incompatible with believing in it."
the United States religion is rampant and massively, though, of
course, not exclusively, Neanderthal. In a recent survey taken
in the United States, 88 percent of the population (if the sample
taken was accurate) maintained that they had never had any doubts
about the existence of God. Even if this survey is inaccurate
and this is true of only 40 percent of the population, it is still
an intellectual and moral disgrace -- a disgrace that should be
a scandal in the United States."
spite of the power of the religious right, it is paranoid to see
the United States as dominated by it, thought it is certainly
not paranoid to believe that in recent years American society
has been to some considerable extent adversely affected by it.
Still there are massive and not ineffective counterbalancing forces."
cultures such as ours, religion is very often an alien form of
life to intellectuals. Living as we do in a post-enlightenment
era, it is difficult for us to take religion seriously. The very
concept seems fantastic to us ... that people in our age can believe
that they have had a personal encounter with God, that they could
believe that they have experienced conversion through a "mystical
experience of God," so that they are born again in the Holy
Spirit, is something that attests to human irrationality and a
lack of sense of reality."