Much has been written in an effort to resolve the debate over
whether belief in God can be rationally defended. However, pointing
to the volumes contributed by theologians, philosophers, and lay
persons is no reason to conclude that nothing further can be said
concerning this vital question. Scholarly journals continue to
publish new arguments and discussions focusing on issues that
surround God's existence. Indeed, there are three journals
devoted exclusively to the treatment of questions and topics in the
philosophy of religion. Because they are generally found in
university libraries, publications of this type are, for the most
part, inaccessible to the public. Even if these journals are
available, the articles they contain are nonetheless quite long,
complicated, and rough-going; few people have the time,
or stamina to wade through them.
This handbook is, in part, an attempt to summarize the best
arguments from these journals, and to offer a concise set of
rejoinders for use by atheists in their formal (and informal)
debates with theists. Older, more traditional, arguments are
included as well, but these are treated in greater detail than ever
before. Here and there I have set forth original arguments which I
hope will advance the debate if only slightly. Great care has been
taken to insure that digressions and rhetoric are minimized. The
result is a short book, yet one that contains an unrelenting
presentation of argument and analysis.
For some time now atheists have been in need of firm grounds upon
which to base their position. My handbook offers them this
foundation. Some will look upon my efforts as a sinister attempt to
further undermine social values. Actually, my purpose is to show
that atheism is an intellectually respectable viewpoint despite
recent efforts to prove otherwise.
One point should be made concerning the structure of this handbook.
In scholarly works there are numerous quotations and references
which serve as important study aides. This technique seems
inappropriate for a layman's handbook. The value of this work
is found in its simplicity. For this reason the text is not
interrupted by quotes or references. Where necessary credit has
given in footnotes and in an extensive bibliography.
-- from the Introduction by B.C. Johnson