Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dlaczego jesteśmy ateistami

Yes, the first translation of 50 Voices of Disbelief is finally out! Dlaczego jesteśmy ateistami is available as of today from the book's Polish publisher's website. For what it's worth, in case you're interested, and you happen to be able to read a Polish language book, it's way cheaper there than it is in its original English language edition. You can get it there for a bit less than 14 $! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Competition on End-of-Life AgitProp

As you might have noticed, last week the Royal Society of Canada released (to much media interest in Canada and internationally) a Report drafted by an international expert panel on End-of-Life Decision-Making in the country. I chaired the panel. It was comprised of well-known figures in bioethics and health law, namely Jocelyn Downie, Hans van Delden, SheilaMcLean, Ross Upshur and Daniel Weinstock. Check the report out here or here.

As is inevitable with such a report, some of its recommendations are taken to be controversial by some people. It was no surprise to me that many of our recommendations on the provision of palliative care in the country, advance planning and other such pressing matters were ignored by the media, and instead the focus was on our recommendations on the decriminalization of certain kinds of assisted dying. The usual suspects came out of their woodwork in no time, the expected condemnations of church affiliated academics, and activist groups were so quick that it is unlikely the people in question actually had the time to read our document. My favourite was a medical school professor who condemned the report in its entirety, even though we actually cited his work approvingly. It seems it is not just philosophers shooting from the hip, as James Rachels worried in his classic article on this issue, but medical school professors, too.

So much has been said in the media, most of which was in fact positive and supportive of our conclusions, that it is impossible for me to respond to everything. However, I am determined to respond to two vile pieces of agitprop that were published in a National Post blog entry penned by Barbara Kay, as well as in a piece published by Licia Corbella in the Calgary Herald.

I intend to write a detailed response to these two pieces some time this coming week, but in the meantime, here's my Competition idea: I invite readers of this blog to analyse these two pieces of what might mistakenly be described as journalism by some and point out their mistakes and misleading arguments. Whoever finds the most mistakes and misleading arguments will receive a free hard cover copy of '50 Voices of Disbelief - Why We Are Atheists', signed by me or 'clean', whatever you prefer. The deadline for submissions will be Wednesday November 30, 2011, 5pm EST. Feel free to send your comments to me at udo schuklenk.

Good success!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Critical Success for our anthology '50 Voices of Disbelief'

Here is a post copied verbatim from Russell Blackford's blog

The reviews quoted on the Amazon site have mounted up over time, and there are a few I didn't know about (in particular, the one in the Times Higher Education Supplement had slipped past me). We really did have some critical success with this book. So let me brag a little, just this once:

"For students in comparative religion this volume offers ample material and powerful reasons to make them subject most if not all religious claims to a highly critical appraisal, preparing for a constructive and public debate." (Acta Comparanda, 2011)

"50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists brings together many scholars and intellectuals from a variety of academic fields who explain the reasons why they do not believe in God. Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk's unique collection of original essays not only consists of short, digestible essays which are full of introductory presentations of both positive and negative arguments in support of atheism, but also in its candid testimonials which are more personally oriented." (Reviews in Religion, 2011)

"The international cast of contributors includes many well-known names, from a diversity of fields-notably philosophy (about a third of the writers are philosophers) science, journalism, politics and science fiction. By no means do they agree on everything, but the unifying themes of rejection of conventional religions and acceptance of secular humanism shine through brightly. A descriptive list of contributors and an excellent index complement the essays, many of which are accompanied by useful endnotes and references." (Quadrant, September 2010)

"It was mostly fascinating reading, in particular, those articles that abstained from using dull polemics and cynicism. Some of the articles-most notably from Nicholas Everitt, Thomas W. Clark, Michael Shermer, Peter Tatchell, Michael Tooley, and Udo Schüklenk-can indeed be used in undergraduate courses concerned with the existence of God in philosophy, ethics, and theology. I recommend this volume especially for all those who need to grasp a general and easy introduction into atheistic reasoning." (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2010)

"I recommend this volume especially for all those who need to grasp a general and easy introduction into atheistic reasoning." (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2010)

“The essays in this book reveal a great concern for our human plight, a concern that is the equal of religious impulses; they raise a richness of issues that are too often ignored, including the ultimate fear of the theists that perhaps in time it may well be possible to settle the question of God’s existence. The fifty voices in this book have spoken out with more than a small amount of courage. What emerges from thinking about these essays is a realization of what human reason is up against, within ourselves.” (Free Inquiry, August/September 2010)

"Good writing and clear thinking don't always go hand in hand. It's a pleasure, then, to find both in a recent book about going it alone -- no deus ex machina for us, please -- titled 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. In one volume, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk, you'll find idiosyncratic essays by a range of atheists from science fiction authors and philosophers to scientists and activists." (Psychology Today, Creating in Flow Blog, May 2010)

"Many of the pieces in this book are full of superior contempt for the intellectual inadequacy of theism. Tatchell is forthright in his criticism of religion, but he never sneers. The essays in this book are all clearly argued, and will reassure the already faithful that they are neither daft nor deluded." (Church Times, April 2010)

"The contemporary relevance,and timeliness of this book is unsurpassed. It is ... an account of various well known non-believers [and] personal viewpoints, directed at a popular audience. Very approachable at all levels, containing a wide range of stories, anecdotes and personal statements about why each of the authors considers themselves to be a non believer. Overall, this book is well suited for a mainstream audience, interested in questioning the power that religion holds over our lives. It [also] has good references ... which will also serve to guide the reader if further information is wanted. Thus, I recommend this book to anyone (regardless of their views concerning religion) interested in understanding why different people hold certain views concerning religion." (Metapsychology, April 2010)

"By turns witty, serious, engaging and information, it is always human and deeply honest, and immensely rewarding to read." (Times Higher Education Supplement, December 2009)

"Carefully considered statements … .Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives. Likely to have broad appeal." (Australian Atheist, November 2009)

"I am strongly recommending it as a present for anyone who has an interest in atheism/theism from either side of the debate. It's just a great read, from great authors." (Stephen Law Blogspot, October 2009)

"It’s a very good book, and I recommend it for all of us godless ones — or those who are considering abjuring the divine. It’s far more than just a collection of stories about 'How I came to give up God.' Many of the writers describe the philosophical and empirical considerations that led them to atheism. Indeed, the book can be considered a kind of philosophical handbook for atheists." (Why Evolution is True Blog, October 2009)

"Wow! A book about atheism and it’s not written by Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett or Harris! So this book is welcome partly because it helps break that knee-jerk reaction. But it’s also welcome because many of its contributors advance interesting ideas. There’s plenty to choose from. And one advantage of a collection like this is that you can dip into it wherever you want. There is something for everyone. And there is the opportunity to discover new ideas." (Open Parachute, October 2009)

"For many who have spent some time involved in any form of engagement in these matters, the names should appear familiar: from the great AC Grayling to the revolutionary Maryam Namazie. Finally, in one book we can hear their stories – if not about themselves, then about the aspects of religion or lack thereof they find most important. If all these contributors were speakers at a convention, it would be sold out many times over." (Butterflies and Wheels, October 2009)

"In their excellent collection of essays exploring and defending the philosophical stance of atheism, Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk had an inclusive vision. Contributors to the book range from those with science-fiction backgrounds to modern-day philosophy." (Kirkus Reviews, October 2009)

"In more than 50 brief statements organized by Blackford and philosopher Schüklenk ... contributors share views—their routes toward nonbelief and their feelings about the place of religion in the world ... including James (the Amazing) Randi, a well-known magician and debunker of spurious psychic phenomena. Considering the popularity of Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great, and Sam Harris's The End of Faith, [these] memoirs and observations will be of interest to disbelievers." (Library Journal, October 2009)