The Blackwell Companion to Atheism

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 11, 2009 in Christian Theology,General Atheism

The greatest case for theism ever assembled has now been released: The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.

Editors Craig & Moreland made a list of the strongest contemporary arguments for theism, tracked down their greatest living defenders, and gave them each 50-100 pages to make their case. I suspect this book will shape the debate between theism and atheism for at least a decade. Chapters:

  1. The Project of Natural Theology (Charles Taliaferro)
  2. The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (Alexander R. Pruss) [read it online]
  3. The Kalam Cosmological Argument (William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair)
  4. The Teleological Argument (Robin Collins)
  5. The Argument from Consciousness (J. P. Moreland)
  6. The Argument from Reason (Victor Reppert)
  7. The Moral Argument (Mark D. Linville) [read it online]
  8. The Argument from Evil (a defense against it, by Stewart Goetz)
  9. The Argument from Religious Experience (Kai-man Kwan)
  10. The Ontological Argument (Robert Maydole)
  11. The Argument from Miracles (Lydia McGrew and Timothy McGrew) [read it online]

As an atheist, I’m kind of jealous! I wish an Atheist Dream Team would publish a response: the best possible case for atheism. I’m dreaming of something like this:


  1. The Failure of Theism (Nicholas Everitt)
  2. Against Cosmological Arguments (Quentin Smith & Adolf Grunbaum)
  3. Against Teleological Arguments (Michael Martin & Richard Gale)
  4. Against Ontological Arguments (Graham Oppy)
  5. Against the Resurrection of Jesus (Robert Price & Richard Carrier)
  6. Against Arguments from Religious Experience (Evan Fales)
  7. Against Reformed Epistemology (Keith Parsons)
  8. The Argument from Suffering (William Rowe & Paul Draper)
  9. The Argument From Divine Hiddenness (John Schellenberg)
  10. The Argument from Non-Belief (Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)
  11. Scientific Arguments Against God (Victor Stenger)
  12. Impossibility Arguments (Theodore Drange and Patrick Grim)
  13. The Case for Naturalism (Andrew Melnyk)
  14. Atheism, Morality, and Purpose (Alonzo Fyfe)

Well, I can dream, right?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Reginald Selkirk May 11, 2009 at 7:56 am

and gave them each 50-100 pages to make their case.

That seems longer than should be necessary. Does it really take 50+ pages to ensure successful concealment of the question-begging? Entries in the Cambridge Companion to Atheism run more to 15-20 pages each.


exrelayman May 11, 2009 at 8:13 am

Perhaps 15. Argument from deviousness? In consideration of how very crafty and unloving a deity would be that made it look as though: it took pains to make us, the most important of it’s creations, to exist on some insignificant speck on the outskirts of of a remote galaxy; it loves us more than we love our own children, but instead of reprimanding our mistakes as we do our children will subject us to everlasting torment if we fail to find and worship it despite it’s hiddenness; puts clear failed prophecy in it’s revealed word, for instance not returning in the lifetime of disciples as predicted, not guiding it’s followers into unity as prayed for, the predictions about Tyre, etc. More could be adduced.

Luke, you are doing pretty well yourself. Your clear thinking (and patience, noted when you were a guest at a Christian site) makes your blog a must read for me, though I admit your philosophizing sometimes goes beyond me.


danielg May 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Such a volume would be a tremendous addition to the discussion.  You can hear Craig discuss the new Natural Theology volume in his 20 min podcast at



danielg May 11, 2009 at 9:26 pm

btw, your link for (Mark D. Linville) is dead


Facilis May 12, 2009 at 4:32 am

Don’t you guys already have “The Cambridge Companion to Atheism”?


lukeprog May 12, 2009 at 7:00 am

danielg: btw, your link for (Mark D. Linville) is dead

Dang ACC; they killed the entire faculty section of their website. I’ll have to wait until it comes back up.


lukeprog May 12, 2009 at 7:02 am

Facilis: Don’t you guys already have “The Cambridge Companion to Atheism”?

Yes, but several of the chapters do not even discuss arguments for/against the existence of God, they chapters are MUCH shorter (and therefore less thorough and rigorous). And a couple of the chapters are sucky (especially Brink’s “The Autonomy of Ethics”).


Ben May 12, 2009 at 7:36 am

Thanks for the heads up.



Haecceitas May 17, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Chapter 5 seems a little bit odd in your otherwise interesting list of authors.

- A case against the resurrection of Jesus? Is that something that is inherently linked with atheism? If so, doesn’t this confirm what many defenders of the resurrection have claimed, namely that the reasons for the rejection of the resurrection often often boil down to presupposing atheism or naturalism? A more generic “case against miracles” might be more defensible.

- Neither Price nor Carrier hold views that come anywhere near the mainstream of scholarship. That doesn’t make their views wrong, but it may be somewhat questionable as to whether it’s a good idea to make them representative of the best that atheism has to offer in this regard.


Danny May 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm

How about Michael Martin’s anthologies The Impossibility of God and The Improbability of God? Aren’t they up to snuff?


lukeprog May 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Those are good, but not quite BCNT-level.


Muddle August 24, 2009 at 11:26 am

Dang ACC; they killed the entire faculty section of their website. I’ll have to wait until it comes back up.


Happily, I am no longer with ACC.   Unhappily, I once was and the past cannot be changed.




lukeprog August 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm


Do you have another page I should link to instead?


Caleb O November 13, 2010 at 9:38 am

Where does Walter Sinnott-Armstrong employ the argument from non-belief? It seems like Drange would be a better candidate for that section. It would also be nice if something like this were ever to be made, that it would be made much much cheaper.


Hitch February 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Hume on the cover?
He was not an atheist.

“Wherever I see Order, I infer from Experience that there, there hath been Design and Contrivance. And the same Principle which leads me into this Inference, when I contemplate a Building, regular and beautiful in its whole Frame and Structure; the same Principle obliges me to infer an infinitely perfect Architect, from the infinite Art and Contrivance which is display’d in the whole Fabrick of the Universe.” (See Hume 1977, 120; A Letter From a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh).

In the Introduction to his book The Natural History of Religion (1757), Hume stated: “The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent Author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.” (Hume 1956, 21).

“In The Natural History of Religion (1757), Hume wrote: “Were men led into the apprehension of invisible, intelligent Power by a contemplation of the works of nature, they could never possibly entertain any conception but of one single Being, who bestowed existence and order on this vast machine, and adjusted all its parts, according to one regular plan or connected system. …All things in the universe are evidently of a piece. Every thing is adjusted to every thing. One design prevails throughout the whole. And this uniformity leads the mind to acknowledge one Author.” (Hume 1956, 26).

“The order of the universe proves an omnipotent Mind.” (Hume 1978; Treatise, 633n).

“As an atheist, I’m kind of jealous!”
As an atheist your completely blind and in denial of reality.



Dan V February 4, 2012 at 10:42 am

Robert Price and Richard Carrier? Really? They are crackpot fringe authors. It is almost as if you want theism to win and atheism to fail. Also, what the above commenter said about Hume. Baron d’Holbach would be a better choice.


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