This witty and learned exploration of the many views of the nature and existence of God, as expressed by the major philosophers of the Western world from the medieval period to the present day, is the last work of noted philosopher Paul Edwards. In his unique tradermark style, laced with erudition and acerbic humour, Edwards addresses how the concept of God has changed over the centuries, in large part due to the analyses of such sceptical thinkers as David Hume, Thomas Paine, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Bertrand Russell. A long-time critic of theistic arguments, Edwards demonstrates a masterful understanding of the ways in which the scientific revolution of the 17th century, the Enlightenment of the 18th century, the evolutionary materialism of the 19th century, and the rise of analytic and existentialist philosophies in the 20th century prepared the way for the growing role of atheism in the 21st century. This work is a tour-de-force - a master storyteller's idiosyncratic evaluation of the views of dozens of Western thinkers on perennial topics in the philosophy of religion.
Though not all of the philosophers discussed were non-believers or anti-religious, they can be considered to be - like Edwards himself - 'freethinkers'. They pursued the cause of knowledge wherever their thinking led them, often to iconoclastic positions. Editor Timothy Madigan, who gave Edwards thoughtful feedback over the years on various drafts of this work and complied it for publication after Edwards' death, has written an appreciative and informative introduction.
Paul Edwards (1923-2004) was the author of Heidegger's Confusions, Heidegger and Death, The Logic of Moral Discourse, and Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. He was also the editor of the monumental and highly acclaimed Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as well as Immortality. He taught for many years at Brooklyn College and the New School for Social Research. Timothy J. Madigan (Rochester, NY) is an assistant professor of philosophy at St. John Fisher College and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy Now magazine. For many years he was editor of Free Inquiry magazine.