Michael Martin is a philosopher at Boston University as professor
has concerned himself largely with philosophy of religion, though
the philosophies of science, law, and sport have not escaped his
attention. On the former, Martin has published a number of books
and copious articles defending atheism and various arguments against
the existence of god in exhaustive detail. Martin, in his introduction
to Atheism: a Philosophical Justification, cites a general absence
of an atheistic response to contemporary work in philosophy of
religion, and accepts the responsibility of a rigorous defense
of nonbelief as, ironically, his cross to bear:
aim of this book is not to make atheism a popular belief or even
to overcome its invisibility. My object is not utopian. It is
merely to provide good reasons for being an atheist. ... My object
is to show that atheism is a rational position and that belief
in God is not. I am quite aware that theistic beliefs are not
always based on reason. My claim is that they should be.
you look up "atheism" in a dictionary, you will probably
find it defined as the belief that there is no God. Certainly
many people understand atheism in this way. Yet many atheists
do not, and this is not what the term means if one consider it
from the point of view of its Greek roots. In Greek "a"
means "without" or "not" and "theos"
means "god." From this standpoint an atheist would simply
be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who
believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots,
then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence
of belief in God."
case can be made that religious language is unverifiable and hence
factually meaningless when it is used in a sophisticated and nonanthropomorphic
thesis that the sentences "God exists" and "God
does not exist" are factually meaningless is only prima facie
justified. This is so because a commonly accepted and fully developed
theory of meaning is not yet available. Until one is, we must
rest content with a partial theory and a partial justification."
it not be said that it is improbable that we would have a universe
in which life arose anywhere? One answer that might be given is
that we do not know whether it is improbable or not. Judgments
about a priori probabilities in such cases are arbitrary, and
we have no evidence in this case of any relevant empirical probabilities."
experiences in one culture often conflict with those in another.
One cannot accept all of them as veridical, yet there does not
seem to be any way to separate the veridical experiences from
experiences of God are good grounds for the existence of God,
are not experiences of the absence of God good grounds for the
nonexistence of God? After all, many people have tried to experience
God and have failed. Cannot these experiences of the absence of
God be used by atheists to counter the theistic argument based
on experience of the presence of God?"
Lewis is certainly right to suppose that in considering the question
of whether miracles exist there is a danger that one will appear
to a priori arguments and assumptions. But the solution to this
problem is not to decide on naturalism or supernaturalism beforehand.
Rather, one must attempt to reject the a priori arguments and
instead base one's position on inductive considerations. Lewis
has not shown that this is impossible. Thus he has not shown that
one must choose between naturalism and supernaturalism before
investigating the possibility of miracles."