Natural Atheism by David Eller
By Grant Steves
Professor Eller teaches Cultural Anthropology in Denver, Colorado. In his research on religion, he gained great insight into the affects of religion and the advantages of freethinking.
Natural Atheism has some challenging material, but it appears Professor Eller’s aim was to address a general audience. At the beginning, he clarifies what he means by a natural atheist. As Eller writes, “All humans are born Atheists. No baby born into the world arrives with religious beliefs or knowledge.”
To return you to this natural state, Eller offers twelve steps to atheism. In his twelve steps, he attacks the traditional arguments for the existence of god and the support theists use to justify their position. This chapter leads to a lesson on reasoning. For Eller, a rational approach is imperative for understanding the issues he presents.
The second part clarifies his understanding on important concepts that influence an atheist. He addresses epistemological concepts, a clarification of types of atheism, science’s role in promoting atheism and finally toleration and truth. These chapters give a wider approach to being an atheist than just using a standard atheist’s defense. What is often a problem in books on atheism is a lack of application, but a lot of theory.
In his third part, Eller explores the issues of separation of church and state, recruiting members into atheism, and how to deal with the fundamentalist in our culture. He concludes with a presentation of an atheist’s attitude toward being an atheist.
The book has a good bibliography but has no index. This makes it more difficult to use as a quick reference. The table of contents is more thorough and helps recall of the chapters.
Eller has created a book that could be used as an introductory text. It is accessible and does not gloss over sections. It is understandable for most readers and thought provoking for the novice.