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Daylight Atheism Final Thoughts + Review

12/18/2012

In Chapter 10, Lee summarizes his case, aiming at wavering believers and promoting atheism as a live option.

Amazon Review:

Daylight Atheism is blogger Adam Lee’s unapologetic attempt to promote a view that his readers will be familiar with: “There may or may not exist a being we would call god. . . but so far we have no good reason to believe that there is. Moreover, there are excellent reasons to think that none of the religions human beings have ever believed in are true. . .” (11) It is also Lee’s attempt to paint a positive, “daylight” brand of atheism, one that goes further than taking down religious views.

Lee argues for his conclusions in two parts. First, he highlights the morally inexcusable passages of the Bible, the argument from evil and divine hiddenness, and the evils done due directly to theistic beliefs, The second part of the book is Lee’s attempt to make a positive case for atheism, with Lee answering common arguments that communism, pessimism, nihilism, amorality, and arrogance, are unavoidable given atheism, or at least common characteristics of atheists. Lee also attempts to show an optimistic atheistic view of controversial subjects like morality and death.

Where Lee shines most is in his concise, readable, and yet focused writing style. He has a talent for distilling complex arguments, like the problem of evil, into short, readable sections that cover multiple rounds of the traditional debates. Academic philosophers could learn a lot from Lee.

Still, Lee falls short in some areas, making claims that appear overly general or unwarranted by the evidence he provides. For example, he claims that religious morality is flawed because it “is not grounded in human needs. . . But obedience to the will of God” (20). On its face, that seems like an unfair blanket statement about religious morality that fails to cover an extensive segment of Eastern religious morals. What part of Buddhism’s Eight Fold Path promotes obedience to God’s will?

Or take Lee’s assertion that when people believe that our lives are “a brief prelude to an afterlife of infinitely greater importance, their actions can’t help but reflect that belief” (183). The endnote for this is to a Guardian article about Nigerian children who are victims of Christianity based witch hunts. This, even coupled with Lee’s following anecdotes, hardly seems to be sufficient evidence for such a general claim, and the assertion begins to look ridiculous in light of the vast majority of genuine believers in an afterlife who still value our finite lives greatly. Convenient generalizations from limited and anecdotal evidence are sprinkled throughout the text, diluting the strength of Lee’s arguments.

Despite what seem to be overreaching arguments, Lee’s book is still a worthwhile contribution to the field of atheism books. He covers an impressive span of well-worn arguments, all in his beautiful, often poetic writing style. This book serves as a generally high quality, extremely readable introduction to the modern atheism theism debate, and may be enough to make wavering minds choose a side.

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