Dewey J. Hoitenga Philosophy Essay Contest

Grand Valley State University Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Icon

Picture of Type Writer

 

 

The Dewey J. Hoitenga Philosophy Essay Contest is an annual event sponsored by the GVSU Department of Philosophy. The winning paper will receive both recognition and a prize.

Papers can be on any philosophical topic and from any student enrolled at GVSU. The contest is typically in the spring of each academic year. Watch our website for more information in winter semester or contact Professor Andrew Spear at  [email protected] for more information.

 

Winner of 2022 Dewey J. Hoitenga Philosophy Essay Contest

Jordan Bradley

Rebellion and Reason

 

 

          In response to the emergence of “New Atheism” in the English-speaking world, an increase in the number of Americans who identify as non-religious, and personal testimonies from a growing community of “Exvangelicals” who speak of “deconstructing” their faith and “deconverting” to some form of nonbelief, American Evangelical Christians have in recent years begun to direct more thought and attention to the subject of atheism. One question which seems especially interesting to these Christians is what causes people to identify as atheists. Although atheists themselves tend to cite an intellectual commitment to things like reason, evidence, and skepticism as the primary causal factor which underlies their non-belief, Evangelicals often point to emotional factors like abusive experiences with religious institutions or other believers, traumatic life experiences like the deaths of loved ones, and anger or hate toward God as alternative explanations.

          One such explanation which has recently become more popular among American Evangelicals is referred to by Christian theologian and apologist Randal Rauser as the “Rebellion Thesis.” According to this explanation, all people are aware on some level that the Christian God exists, and all people who call themselves atheists are simply suppressing this latent awareness out of a hedonistic desire to “sin” rather than submit to the Christian God’s moral rules and expectations. The aim of this paper will be to establish that the Rebellion Thesis should be rejected as an explanation for atheistic identification, for both rational and moral reasons: rationally, because it violates a number of causal fallacies (most notably the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy), and morally, because it violates a number of moral principles (most notably the Golden Rule).

          Although the Rebellion Thesis has seen a considerable increase in popularity among American Evangelicals in recent decades, it has been expressed by Christians for centuries. For example, one of the clearest and most direct expressions of the Rebellion Thesis can be found in the collected journals of nineteenth-century Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard:

It is claimed that arguments against Christianity arise out of doubt. This is a total misunderstanding. The arguments against Christianity arise out of insubordination, reluctance to obey, mutiny against all authority. Therefore, until now the battle against objections has been shadow-boxing, because it has been intellectual combat with doubt instead of being ethical combat against mutiny. (Kierkegaard 359)

Here we have many of the basic themes and assumptions which are frequently associated with the Rebellion Thesis: atheism as inauthentic, atheism as a moral issue rather than an intellectual issue, and atheists as stubborn and insubordinate.

          In his book Is the Atheist My Neighbor?: Rethinking Christian Attitudes Toward Atheism,  Rauser provides a more concise summary of the Rebellion Thesis. According to Rauser, the Rebellion Thesis is the belief that “[w]hile atheists profess to believe that God does not exist, this disbelief is the result of an active and culpable suppression of an innate disposition to believe in God which is borne of a hatred of God and a desire to sin with impunity” (6). Rauser’s definition provides a few more basic themes and assumptions frequently associated with the Rebellion Thesis: suppression of theistic knowledge as conscious rather than unconscious, hatred of God, and desire to sin. In addition to this useful summary of the Rebellion Thesis, Rauser’s book also includes a number of arguments against it. For this reason, it will be the main text that I draw from in my critique of the Rebellion Thesis.

          Evangelical philosopher and apologist James Spiegel offers a lengthy defense of the Rebellion Thesis in his book The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. In this book, he claims that “[New Atheism] is little more than moral rebellion cloaked in academic regalia” (Spiegel 16), that “religious skepticism is, at bottom, a moral problem” (Spiegel 16), and that

however much an atheist scholar, celebrity, or layperson might insist that his or her foundational ‘reason’ for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural or some other ‘rational’ consideration, this is only a ruse, a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue—personal rebellion.” (Spiegel 86)

In addition to this useful summary of the Rebellion Thesis, Spiegel’s book also includes a number of arguments in defense of it. For this reason, it will be the main text that I respond to in my critique of the Rebellion Thesis.

          Spiegel asserts in The Making of an Atheist that there is empirical evidence for the Rebellion Thesis which one can become aware of by observing the behavior and character of prominent atheist activists, authors, philosophers, and other public figures. He describes two primary ways in which these public atheists’ behavior and character empirically corroborate the Rebellion Thesis.

          The first way in which Spiegel asserts this, which will hereafter be referred to as the Argument from Immoral Atheists, is more general in scope. According to this argument, many of the most prominent atheist intellectuals throughout Western history demonstrated poor moral character in their personal lives. Spiegel accuses those who advocated for racial and gender equality while treating women and racial minorities poorly of hypocrisy, and those who advocated for sexual freedom while engaging in premarital or extramarital sex of simply attempting to justify their own immoral sexual conduct. The poor character of these individual atheists, we are meant to believe, demonstrates that atheists possess poor character as a group.

          In support of his Argument from Immoral Atheists, Spiegel cites a book by conservative historian Paul Johnson entitled Intellectuals, which Johnson describes as “an examination of the moral and judgmental credentials of leading intellectuals” (ix). Spiegel describes this book as “a 342-page historical expose that recounts behavior so sleazy and repugnant that one almost feels corrupted by reading it” (70) and concludes from this assessment that “[a]s Johnson shows, the works of these intellectuals were often calculated to justify or minimize the shame of their own debauchery” (72). Spiegel’s book includes a list of names of prominent atheist intellectuals, all drawn from Johnson’s book, alongside concise summaries of each of their alleged character flaws. For example, included in the list is atheist philosopher Karl Marx, who is described as “fiercely anti-Semitic; egocentric, slothful, and lecherous; exploitative of friends and unfaithful to his wife; sired an illegitimate son, whom he refused to acknowledge” (71).

          Although Spiegel sees Johnson’s book as an incisive work of historical scholarship which reveals a great deal about the character of atheists, a strong case can be made that it is, in fact, a politically-motivated work of character assassination which does not establish much at all about the moral character of all atheists. After all, one could just as easily write a book detailing the poor character of many prominent Christians, but it would establish nothing definitive about the character of all Christians. For example, in the summer of 2021, historian Felix Waldmann published an article in the Journal of Modern History which details his discovery of a memoir written by a friend and college roommate of Christian philosopher John Locke named James Tyrrell. In this memoir, Tyrrell describes Locke as “avaricious, vain, envious, and reserved to excess,” and claims that Locke “lost his temper with the greatest ease” (275) and “took from others whatever he was able to take, and...profited from them” (275). Additionally, Tyrrell writes that “[w]hen [Locke] was at Oxford, he did not study at all; he was lazy and nonchalant” (273). Finally, he writes that “[b]eing full of the good opinion that he had of himself, [Locke] esteemed only his own works, and the people who praised him” (274). Given that Spiegel seems to believe that being “egocentric,” “slothful,” and “exploitative of friends” are enough to justify Marx’s inclusion in his list of atheists with poor character, it seems that one could just as easily include Locke in a list of Christians with poor character.

          To provide another example, Spiegel’s description of Marx as “fiercely antisemitic” can easily be applied to Protestant reformer Martin Luther, who, in his antisemitic treatise On the Jews and their Lies, describes the Jewish minority in Europe as “poisonous bitter worms” (300), “vainglorious, arrogant rogues” (290), and “liars and bloodhounds” (Luther 290). In this treatise, Luther advocates for the burning of Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues (298), suggests subjecting Jewish people to forced labor (300), and recommends expelling them from Christian Europe entirely (300). In light of this, it seems reasonable to conclude that if Marx’s alleged antisemitism justifies his placement on a list of atheists with poor character, one would equally be justified in placing Luther on a list of Christians with poor character.

          However, in the cases of Marx, and in the cases of Locke and Luther, it seems reasonable to conclude that the moral character of some members of a group does not establish anything definitive about the moral character of all members of a group. It seems to be the case that there are some atheists and Christians who are antisemitic, lazy, egotistical, and exploitative, and many atheists and Christians who are none of these things. By implying that the purported poor character of some atheists necessarily reveals the poor character of all atheists, Spiegel is committing the fallacy of incomplete evidence, which occurs “[w]henever a generalization is reached on the basis of a very few and possibly unrepresentative cases” and involves redirecting attention “from particular cases to a general rule on the basis of inadequate evidence” (Pirie 145). Spiegel commits this fallacy here because he does not acknowledge counterexamples (i.e., prominent atheists who demonstrated good character).

          For example, according to historian Susan Jacoby, nineteenth-century atheist orator Robert Green Ingersoll “once possessed real fame as one of the two most important champions of reason and secular government in American history—the other being Thomas Paine” (1). According to Jacoby, “Ingersoll...had, by all accounts, an extraordinarily happy marriage and family life” (21), and following his death, “[e]very major newspaper in the country, while taking care to disavow [his] attacks on organized religion, offered extensive editorial commentaries that, more often than not, praised his personal virtues[.]” (22).

          Abolitionist Frederick Douglass recounts experiencing a profound change of heart regarding the moral character of atheists after meeting Ingersoll. In his Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass recounts being taken in by the Ingersoll family while on a speaking tour. He describes the experience thusly:

Mr. Ingersoll was at home, and if I have ever met a man with real living human sunshine in his face, and honest, manly kindness in his voice, I met one who possessed these qualities that morning. I received a welcome from Mr. Ingersoll and his family which would have been a cordial to the bruised heart of any proscribed and storm-beaten stranger, and one which I can never forget nor fail to appreciate. (Douglass 337)

Douglass then describes how this experience of meeting a prominent atheist who demonstrated genuine kindness and hospitality forever changed his views on moral character and religious identity:

“Incidents of this character have greatly tended to liberalize my views as to the value of creeds in estimating the character of men. They have brought me to the conclusion that genuine goodness is the same, whether found inside or outside the Church, and that to be an ‘infidel’ no more proves a man to be selfish, mean, and wicked, than to be evangelical proves him to be honest, just, and humane.” (Douglass 337)

Although Douglass used to be more sympathetic to the view of atheists promoted by Spiegel (that they are, as a group, “selfish, mean, and wicked”), he was moved to abandon this view when confronted with a counterexample in the form of a selfless, kind, and righteous atheist.

          Another problem with Spiegel’s Argument from Immoral Atheists is that it is unfalsifiable. In response to counterexamples like Ingersoll, Spiegel could always say that Ingersoll must have simply hidden his immorality and pretended to be a decent man. However, this reasoning could be used to defend a variety of claims which are probably false. For example, an atheist could claim that everyone knows on some level that no gods exist, and that those who call themselves Christians are simply afraid of death and in denial about the lack of an afterlife. In response to counterexamples (i.e., Christians who seem to truly believe in the claims of their religion), such an atheist could always say that these Christians are simply pretending.

          Finally, Spiegel’s Argument from Immoral Atheists commits two causal fallacies: the cum hoc ergo propter hoc (“with this, therefore because of this”) fallacy, and the fallacy of the single cause. According to philosopher Madsen Pirie, the cum hoc fallacy “assumes that events which occur together are causally connected, and leaves no room either for coincidence, or for the operation of an outside factor which separately influences those events” (Pirie 41-42). Spiegel’s Argument from Immoral Atheists commits the cum hoc fallacy because it assumes that if one does things which are prohibited by Christianity and professes disbelief in Christianity, the former must necessarily be the cause of the latter. Crucially, it makes this assumption without demonstrating it, and without considering the possibility that both factors have a third cause in common, or that they are not causally related at all.

          For example, many people with religious upbringings begin having sex and begin experiencing religious doubt as young adults in college. A proponent of the Rebellion Thesis is likely to assume that, in this situation, the former is the true cause of the latter: these young people, free from parental supervision, want to engage in premarital sex, and this desire gives them reason to reject the religion of their upbringing which prohibits such behavior. Any rational or intellectual reasons they may offer for doubt are simply excuses. However, this assumption ignores a perfectly plausible alternative theory: namely, that for many people the experience of being a young adult in a college atmosphere is a formative time in their lives, one in which they are exposed to new experiences (like sex) and to new ideas (like atheism). In other words, it may be the case that this unique period in people’s lives can be a cause of both increased sexual activity and increased religious doubt.

          Spiegel’s Argument from Immoral Atheists commits the fallacy of the single cause, which consists of the assumption that “an event has only one root or reason, when in fact there may be multiple causes” (Van Vleet 34), because it assumes that a desire to do things which are prohibited by Christianity is the only cause, or the primary cause, of professed disbelief in Christianity, when it may be one cause (perhaps a relatively minor one) among many. For example, a Christian who enjoys eating pork products would probably say that Islam’s prohibition against doing so is one reason why they do not believe in Islam, because they would likely see such a prohibition as inconvenient, unnecessary, and restrictive. However, it would be inaccurate and unfair for a muslim to tell them that their desire to continue eating pork products is the only reason, or the primary reason, why they do not believe in Islam. They do not believe in Islam, our pork-eating Christian would say, because they are simply unconvinced that its religious claims are true.

          The second way in which Spiegel asserts that the behavior and character of prominent atheists empirically corroborate the Rebellion Thesis is more specific than the first, and it will hereafter be referred to as the Argument from Content Atheists. Some prominent atheists have said not only that they believe the Christian God does not exist, but that they are glad the Christian God does not exist and that they would not want him to. They are content to live in a godless universe, because a universe presided over by the kind of deity worshiped by the Abrahamic religions would be, in their minds, a kind of cosmic totalitarianism. According to the Argument from Content Atheists, these prominent atheists are publicly admitting what most atheists conceal from others.

          Spiegel focuses on the example of atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel, who has said the following on the subject:

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. (Nagel 130)

At first glance, this does seem to corroborate the Rebellion Thesis. Nagel freely acknowledges that he “hope[s] there is no God” due to a “cosmic authority problem” on his part. However, upon further examination, Spiegel’s argument here turns out to have a few of the same issues as his previous argument.

          Firstly, Spiegel’s Argument from Content Atheists commits the fallacy of incomplete evidence, because he does not acknowledge or consider atheists who say they wish there was a God, or atheists who say they do not have a preference either way. Instead, he only focuses on atheists like Nagel, whose statements are more consistent with his perspective. Even if Nagel does meet the qualifications of the Rebellion Thesis as an individual, the Rebellion Thesis posits that all atheists, not just some atheists, are motivated by rebellion. As Randal Rauser points out in his book Is the Atheist My Neighbor, “[i]t is true that Nagel speculates that many atheists may have a cosmic authority problem, but he never suggests that all do” (77).

          Secondly, Spiegel’s Argument from Content Atheists is unfalsifiable. In response to any counterexamples (i.e., atheists who say they wish there was a God, or who say they do not have a preference either way), he can always claim that these atheists must simply be lying. However, this line of argument could be used to insulate a variety of questionable claims from criticism and disproof.

          In addition to these various rational problems, the Rebellion Thesis is also beset with a number of troubling moral problems, all of which involve committing some form of disrespect toward atheists.

          For example, in his book on the subject, Rauser argues that invoking the Rebellion thesis to atheists violates the “Golden Rule”—Jesus’s exhortation in Matthew 7:12 to “do unto others what you would have them do to you” (458). Rauser explains his reasoning thusly:

[I]f you are a Christian you wouldn't appreciate people insisting that deep down you're an atheist and that you're suppressing your latent atheistic belief. Instead, you'd expect your interlocutors to do you the minimal courtesy of taking you at your word. […] [I]t is likewise unfair to dismiss an atheist’s testimony as arising from the suppression of latent theistic belief. (Rauser 50)

The Rebellion Thesis is disrespectful toward atheists in part because it involves accusing atheists of lying about their beliefs (or lack thereof), and presuming to know more about their minds and motivations than they themselves do.

          An atheist could question the sincerity of a Christian’s belief in the same way that Christian proponents of the Rebellion Thesis question the sincerity of atheists’ nonbelief. For example, such an atheist could invoke a Cowardice Thesis (that is, Self-identified Christians only claim to believe due to fear of death and an unwillingness to admit that there is no afterlife) or a Weakness Thesis (that is, Self-identified Christians only claim to believe due to their need to rely on religion as an emotional crutch) as alternative explanations for professed belief in Christianity. Christians would generally see this as disrespectful, prejudiced, and unfair, and they would have good reason to do so. Given this, Christians should be reluctant to make equivalent claims about atheists.

          In his Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, Thomas Reid describes two complementary rational principles which he believes God “implanted in our natures” out of a desire “that we should be social creatures” (93): the principle of veracity and the principle of credulity. These principles can provide greater clarity to this issue.

          Reid describes the principle of veracity as “a propensity to speak truth, and to use the signs of language, so as to convey our real sentiments” (93), and elaborates that “[truth] requires no art or training, no inducement or temptation, but only that we yield to a natural impulse” while “[l]ying, on the contrary, is doing violence to our nature; and is never practised, even by the worst men, without some temptation” (93).

Adam Weiler Dur Ayre explains this principle thusly:

When we talk to someone, we naturally tell him the truth about our beliefs, thoughts, opinions, judgments, feelings, perceptions, and so forth. We use language with the intention to tell the truth and not with a cunning intention to lie and mislead. For instance, if we believe that we see a rabbit, we will say to our interlocutor, “here’s a rabbit” and not “here’s a cat”; if we are in pain, we will tell him or her, “it hurts” and not, “it feels good”. (Weiler Gur Arye 74)

In other words, with the exception of compulsive liars, people generally only lie for specific reasons and in specific circumstances (e.g., to get something from someone, to save their own life, etc.). As a rule, however, people are generally honest and straightforward about their own thoughts, experiences, beliefs, etc. Lying takes effort and skill, and it is generally induced by things like temptation or fear. Truth, on the other hand, comes naturally for most people and works well for them in most instances. For Reid, it is “the natural issue of the mind” (Reid 93).

          Reid describes the principle of credulity as “a disposition to confide in the veracity of others, and to believe what they tell us, and claims that “[i]t is unlimited in children, until they meet with instances of deceit and falsehood: and it retains a very considerable degree of strength through life” (Reid 194). According to Weiler Gur Ayre, the principle of credulity implies that we “believe that the interlocutor uses language to tell us what he really thinks, believes, perceives, and so forth” and that “we believe that the interlocutor reports to us honestly what seems to him to be true, what is true from his subjective point of view” (74).

          In other words, unless they have good reason to think someone is lying, people generally believe the testimonies of others. If a woman’s neighbor claims to be a lawyer, she will probably believe him without much thought or effort. If her neighbor claims to be a vampire, she will not be so inclined to take him at his word. Reid expresses this idea, writing that “[i]t is evident, that, in the matter of testimony, the balance of human judgment is by nature inclined to the side of belief; and turns to that side of itself, when there is nothing put into the opposite scale” (Reid 94).

          Although Reid describes these principles as rational principles and mental tendencies or habits, a case can be made for viewing them as moral principles as well. If people are generally honest in their interactions with others, and people generally do not accuse others of lying without good reason, then it seems that one could plausibly say people have a moral obligation to not frivolously accuse others of lying (i.e., to not violate the principle of credulity). After all, to accuse someone of lying without a compelling reason attributes immoral behavior to them which they probably did not actually commit.

          This is arguably what proponents of the Rebellion Thesis do with regard to atheists, but if one accepts the principles of veracity and credulity as moral principles, then one should not invoke the Rebellion Thesis to atheists.

          Another way that the Rebellion Thesis disrespects atheists is by violating the principle of charity, which requires that we address the strongest version of an interlocutor’s argument. Since it involves disregarding atheists’ stated rational and intellectual reasons for their disbelief altogether, and instead focusing on moral or emotional reasons, the Rebellion Thesis clearly violates this principle. After all, one cannot respond to the strongest version of an interlocutor’s argument if one does not respond to an interlocutor’s argument at all.

          Although a thorough consideration of the soundness or unsoundness of such arguments would be a departure from the subject of this paper, it should be pointed out that philosophical arguments for atheism—such as the Argument From Evil and the Argument from Divine Hiddenness—do exist, are considered by most philosophers to be philosophically serious, and are convincing to many philosophers who seem to be perfectly intelligent and rational. For this reason, such arguments should be acknowledged and engaged with rather than being ignored and dismissed.

          In turning its attention away from atheists’ arguments and toward their character, the Rebellion Thesis also commits the ad hominem fallacy by implying that atheists are bad people with bad character (e.g., that their disbelief is actually motivated by hedonism, a problem with authority, moral depravity, etc., and that they are lying by denying this). All that a proponent of the Rebellion Thesis needs to do in order to understand this is to imagine a version of the Rebellion Thesis aimed at Christians, and imagine how they would feel about it.

          Finally, the Rebellion Thesis is disrespectful toward atheists because it is inherently tied up with contempt for and prejudice against atheists as a group, due to the morally loaded language it uses to describe them and the assumptions it makes about their motivations and character. The Rebellion Thesis depicts atheists not as moral, rational human beings who have thoughtfully considered the issue and come to a different position. Rather, it depicts them as obstinate, depraved hedonists who cannot be trusted or reasoned with. This is not flattering, neutral, or constructively critical language; it is the language of bigotry.

          One can see this in the way that Spiegel writes about atheists in The Making of an Atheist, which is similar to the way Martin Luther writes about Jewish people in On the Jews and Their Lies. To be clear, in comparing the texts of Spiegel and Luther, I only mean to say that the contempt, prejudice, and bigotry expressed by Spiegel is (at least in some ways) similar in kind to that expressed by Luther, not that it is similar in degree. Spiegel does not recommend seizing atheists’ property, subjecting them to forced labor, or deporting them in his book, and antisemitism and bigotry against atheists are, of course, separate issues.

          In The Making of an Atheist, Spiegel writes that atheism is “not the result of objective assessment of evidence, but of stubborn disobedience” and that it is “the suppression of the truth by wickedness” (18). In On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther writes that Jewish people are “wicked, stubborn people” (290), that they have a “stubborn spirit” (296), and that they are marked by “wickedness” (296). Spiegel accuses atheists of being “blinded by their own sin” (16), and the fourth chapter of his book is entitled “The Obstinacy of Atheism” (89). Luther charges Jewish people with “blindness” and “obstinacy” (296).

          Spiegel claims that “regarding certain issues, [atheists] are genuinely desensitized to truth such that they cannot perceive it even when they encounter it” (57) and that “[atheists’] worldview inhibits their ability to recognize the reality of God that is manifest in creation” (114). Luther claims that Jewish people “knowingly rage against recognized truth” (296) and “knowingly resist the open, recognized truth, that is, the face of God Himself.” (296).

          Each author expresses frustration toward a group of people who refuse to convert to his version of Christianity, which he sees as so obviously true that he concludes the group in question must be closed off from God and the truth due to their moral depravity. Each author accuses the group in question of blindness, stubbornness, obstinacy, and wickedness. Neither author respects the group in question as rational and moral human beings with whom one can have a discussion, or entertains the idea that the group in question may have sensible reasons to disagree. Judging by the rhetoric they have chosen to employ, these authors seem to be motivated by contempt, prejudice, and bigotry. This rhetoric, which is consistent with the basic assumptions of the Rebellion Thesis, makes the Rebellion Thesis disrespectful toward atheists.

          This paper has attempted to establish that the Rebellion Thesis should be rejected as false for rational and moral reasons. Rationally, it should be rejected because it commits the fallacy of incomplete evidence, the cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, and the fallacy of the single cause, and because it is unfalsifiable. Morally, it should be rejected because it disrespects atheists by violating the Golden Rule, the principles of veracity and credulity, the principle of charity, and the ad hominem fallacy, and because it seems to be associated with contempt, prejudice, and bigotry against atheists. All of this should give pause to any Christians who may be sympathetic to the Rebellion Thesis, but who wish to engage in reasonable and respectful dialogue with atheists and regard them as rational, moral people like themselves.

 

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: His Early Life As a Slave, His

Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History. Dover Publications, 2003.

Jacoby, Susan. The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought. Yale

University Press, 2013.

Johnson, Paul. Intellectuals. Harper and Row, 1988.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Søren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers. Translated by Howard V.

Hong and Edna H. Hong, 1st ed., 1 (A-E), Indiana University Press, 1967.

Luther, Martin. The Essential Luther. Hackett, 2018.

Nagel, Thomas. The Last Word. Oxford University Press, 1997.

Pirie, Madsen. How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Rauser, Randal. Is the Atheist My Neighbor?: Rethinking Christian Attitudes toward Atheism.

Cascade Books, 2015.

Reid, Thomas. An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense: A Critical

Edition. Translated by Derek R. Brookes, Penn State University Press, 2000.

Spiegel, James S. The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. Moody

Publishers, 2010.

Van Vleet, Jacob E. Informal Logical Fallacies. 2nd ed., Hamilton Books, 2021.

Waldmann, Felix. “John Locke as a Reader of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan: A New

Manuscript.” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 93, no. 2, 1 June 2021, pp. 245–282., http://doi.org/10.1086/714068.

Weiler Gur Arye, Adam. “Reid's Principle of Credulity as Principle of Charity.” The Journal of

Scottish Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 69–83, http://doi.org/10.3366/jsp.2016.0114.


Yearly Essay Contest Winners

Name Year of Contest Current Status Essay
Lucas Howe 2021 Winner Lucas is currently employed as a Salesforce Administrator in Austin, TX, and continues to engage in creative projects in music, writing, etc. Tethering the Mind: Embodied Cognition and its Implications View
Mallory Wietrzykowski 2020 Winner Mallory is a MA student in philosophy at Kent State University Explaining How Confabulations Undermine the Concept of Free-Will View
Lauren Chunn 2019 Winner Lauren is currently employed as Medical Science Liaison for a biotech company View
Adrian Rios 2018 Winner Adrian is a Professional Writing Assistant at Lansing Community College Franz Boas and the Genesis of Modern Anthropology View
Abigail DeHart 2015 Winner Graduated from Michigan Law School in 2019 and is now a lawyer for a law firm in Washington DC View
Sam Girwarnauth 2010 Winner Sam completed his masters in philosophy at Western Michigan and has been an attorney since 2017. He is currently on active duty as Army Judge Advocate, currently serving as a trial defense attorney at Fort Campbell, Kentucky View
Patrick Lummen 2007 Winner Patrick completed an MA degree focused on the philosophy of religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Patrick has taught Philosophy as an adjunct professor and is currently the Project Manager for the University of Chicago View
Dan Blaser 2005 Winner View


Page last modified December 19, 2022