Respectful Atheism: A Perspective on Belief in God and Each Other (Hardcover)
This is a study of God as a concept, not from the perspective of any religious tradition, but rather as belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing and loving supernatural entity as has prevailed through the ages. The book reviews arguments throughout history for and against the idea of such a God. One unique perspective is to ask what can be modeled about God in denotative language of rationality (much as modeling in science, medicine and economics) in contrast to connotative language (e.g., myth, metaphor, art and music). Since the early Greeks there have been skeptics concerning God, with progressively more questioning since the Enlightenment. Today's "new atheists" are seen as being even more assertive, and as having little respect for religious and philosophical traditions and the natural longing for some kind of supreme being. However, as demographic trends continue to diminish the influence of the church, there is opportunity for atheism to gain respect by respecting the beliefs of others. The book ends with some considerations of what it means to respect others' beliefs and cultural traditions without abandoning a sincere disbelief in a supernatural being.
Thomas B Sheridan is currently Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics MIT. He was co-editor of the MIT Press journal Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments and served on several editorial boards; and was editor of IEEE Transactions on Man-Machine Systems. Sheridan chaired the National Research Council's Committee on Human Factors, and has served on numerous government and industrial advisory committees. He is principal of Thomas B. Sheridan and Associates, a consulting firm. He was President of HFES, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.