Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Upgrade to today
for only an extra Cxx.xx

You get:

plus This issue of xxxxxxxxxxx.
plus Instant access to the latest issue of 410+ of our top selling titles.
plus Unlimited access to 33000+ back issues
plus No contract or commitment. If you decide that PocketmagsPlus is not for you, you can cancel your monthly subscription online at any time. Auto-renews at £9.99 per month, unless cancelled.
Upgrade for 99p
Then just £9.99 / month. Cancel anytime.
Learn more
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
GB
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Read anywhere Read anywhere
Ways to pay Pocketmags Payment Types
Trusted site
At Pocketmags you get
Secure Billing
Great Offers
Web & App Reader
Gifting Options
Loyalty Points
75 MIN READ TIME

Two Kinds of Progressive Atheism

Human evolution need not be progressive. But in the case of our understanding and expression of personal goodness, it appears that it has been. Books like Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature and Michael Shermer’s The Moral Arcmake it very hard to deny that our understanding of what it takes to be a really good person, and also our ability to live up to it, are improving. Though there’s no shortage of bad behaviour to complain about, many nasty and violent tendencies are much less in evidence than they once were.

I see in such moral progress a connection to atheism. More specifically, I see a new way of providing convincing support for atheism. As a philosopher, I find this interesting. By “atheism” I mean the philosophical position that God does not exist, and by “God” I mean what most philosophers from the Greeks to now have meant (you can find the basic idea as far back as the Presocratic Xenophanes): an ultimate personal agent— a being who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and the creator of such things other than God as there may be. This idea has been used to do theoretical work in philosophy, and it captures the root idea of theistic traditions such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. So there’s religious relevance too. Philosophy, for its part, is today largely atheistic (and I’m an atheist), but you can still find the existence of God hotly debated within its precincts. And of course in many cultural contexts outside of philosophy, including many regions of the Internet, God’s existence is a matter of urgent concern. So a new approach, a new way of making headway on God, may be of interest to many people. The atheism delivered by my new approach I call progressive. To ease us into the discussion of progressive atheism, and help us appreciate its significance, I’m going to start by setting out another way of defending atheism that might be called progressive, one that ends up getting into trouble. Seeing why it gets into trouble will at the same time provide the starting point for my own approach.

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptic - 24.3
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Digital Issue
24.3
£4.49
This issue and other back issues are not included in a new Skeptic subscription. Subscriptions include the latest regular issue and new issues released during your subscription.
Annual Digital Subscription
Only £ 3.25 per issue
SAVE
28%
£12.99

View Issues

About Skeptic

PINKER ON POST-TRUTH & REASON Steven Pinker on “Why We Are Not Living in a Post-Truth Era: An (Unnecessary) Defense of Reason and a (Necessary) Defense of Universities’ Role in Advancing it” COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Coconut Oil: Health Food or Health Hazard? by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Persistence of Memory… and of the Memory Wars, by Carol Tavris ARTICLES The “Lost” Tribes of Israel • The Pentagon’s UFOs How a Multimedia Entertainment Company Created a UFO News Story • The Problem with the Walking Dead And How They Flummoxed Science for Centuries • The Enigma of Stephen Jay Gould • Why the Human Brain Did Not Evolve to Accurately Represent the True Nature of Reality • Homeopathy’s New Clothes: Release Active Drugs • Pressured Apologies, False Confessions, and Witch Hunts • Two Kinds of Progressive Atheism • Surfing for Truth in All the Right Places: An Empirical Test of the Backfire Effect and How the Internet Can Reduce Anti-vaccination Attitudes REVIEWS Reviews of “A review of Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities” • “Spectacle of Illusion: Deception Magic and the Paranormal” • “The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost” • “Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture” JUNIOR SKEPTIC The Chilling, Changeling Chupacabra!

Other Articles in this Issue


COLUMNS
Coconut Oil: Health Food or Health Hazard?
The Persistence of Memory… and of the Memory Wars
Michelle E. Ainsworth holds an MA in history. She enjoys
ARTICLES
An (Unnecessary) Defense of Reason and a (Necessary) Defense of Universites’ Role in Advancing it
Recently, a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites
How a Multimedia Entertainment Company Created a UFO News Story
Van Helsing: “I want you to believe.” Dr. Seward: “To
The Account of Gould’s Science and Politics Is More Complicated Than Critics Acknowledge
Why the Human Brain Did Not Evolve to Accurately Represent the True Nature of Reality
formulated two laws of magical thinking in his now
Someone makes a public comment out of line with progressive
Human evolution need not be progressive. But in the
An Empirical Test of the Backfire Effect and How the Internet Can Reduce Anti-vaccination Attitudes
REVIEWS
A review of Eric Kaufmann’s Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities
Reviews of Spectacle of Illusion: Deception Magic and the Paranormal by Matthew Tompkins; The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost by Peter Manseau; and Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture by Simone Natale
JUNIOR SKEPTIC
The Chilling, Changeling Chupacabra!