Theism or Atheism by Chapman Cohen

Theism or Atheism

By Chapman Cohen

  • Publication Date: 1868-01-01
  • Genre: Religion & Spirituality

Book Synopsis

Soon after that famous Atheist, Charles Bradlaugh, entered the House of Commons, it is said that a fellow member approached him with the remark, "Good God, Bradlaugh, what does it matter whether there is a God or not?" Bradlaugh's answer is not recorded, but one is impelled to open the present examination of the belief in God, by putting the same question in another form. Is the belief in God, as we are so often assured, one of the most important questions that can engage the attention of man? Under certain conditions one can conceive a rational answer in the affirmative. Where the mental and social conditions are such that men seriously believe the incidence of natural forces on mankind to be determined by the direct action of "God," one can appreciate right belief concerning him being treated as of first rate importance. In such circumstances wrong ideas are the equivalent of disaster. But we are not in that condition to-day. It is, indeed, common ground with all educated men and women that natural happenings are independent of divine control to at least the extent that natural forces affect all alike, and without the least reference to religious beliefs. Fire burns and water drowns, foods sustain and poisons kill, no matter what our opinions on theology may be. In an earthquake or a war there is no observable relation between casualties and religious opinions. We are, in fact, told by theologians that it is folly to expect that there should be. A particular providence is no longer in fashion; God, we are told, works only through general laws, and that is only another way of saying that our opinions about God have no direct or observable influence on our well-being. It is a tacit admission that human welfare depends upon our knowledge and manipulation of the forces by which we are surrounded. There _may_ be a God behind these forces, but that neither determines the extent of our knowledge of them or our power to manipulate them. The belief in God becomes a matter of, at best, secondary importance, and quite probably of no importance whatever.

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Latest User Reviews

  • Best atheism book I have read so far

    By Chandler Klebs
    This is perhaps the most in depth look at the differences between theism and atheism. I recommend that people read this book because it is old and free. This is the second book I have read by Chapman Cohen. I believe that the more knowledge a person gains in any field, the less room there is for belief in unseen/spiritual forces. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I would suggest at least looking at chapter 9: "The Problem of Pain". It explains many cases where pain serves no purpose for those who suffer and die for reasons they had nothing to do with creating. If indeed the world was created by a god, we would have no reason to believe in his goodness even if we were aware of his existence. Since there is no evidence to suggest the truth of either, I wonder what the motive for religious belief could be.