Michael Martin (philosopher)

Michael Martin
Born (1932-02-03)February 3, 1932
Died May 27, 2015(2015-05-27) (aged 83)
Nationality American
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of social science, philosophy of law, philosophy of religion, negative atheism
Notable ideas
The transcendental argument for the nonexistence of God[1]

Michael L. Martin (February 3, 1932 – May 27, 2015) was an American philosopher and former professor at Boston University.[2] Martin specialized in the philosophy of religion, although he also worked on the philosophies of science, law, and social science. He served with the US Marine Corps in Korea.[3] Martin died unexpectedly on 27 May 2015, aged 83.[4][5]

Academic career

Martin completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1956 at Arizona State University. He was awarded an MA in philosophy at the University of Arizona in 1958 and in 1962 he was awarded a PhD in philosophy from Harvard University. He was appointed Assistant Professor at University of Colorado in 1962 and in 1965 he moved to Boston University.[6] He was appointed Professor of Philosophy Emeritus after a lifelong career at Boston University.[7]

He is the author or editor of a number of books, including Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (1989), The Case Against Christianity (1991), Atheism, Morality, and Meaning (2002), The Impossibility of God (2003), The Improbability of God (2006), and The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (2006). He sat on the editorial board of the philosophy journal, Philo and wrote many reviews and articles for journals and magazines including Free Inquiry[6].


In his Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, Martin cites a general absence of an atheistic response to contemporary work in philosophy of religion, and accepts the responsibility of a rigorous defense of non belief as his "cross to bear:"

The aim of this book is not to make atheism a popular belief or even to overcome its invisibility. My object is not utopian. It is merely to provide good reasons for being an atheist. … My object is to show that atheism is a rational position and that belief in God is not. I am quite aware that atheistic beliefs are not always based on reason. My claim is that they should be.[8]

Martin used the concepts of negative and positive atheism as proposed by Antony Flew[9] rather than the terms weak or soft atheism (negative) and strong or hard atheism (positive).


Martin took part in a number of written and internet debates with Christian philosophers.

Academic Books

Fiction and Plays

Martin published The Big Domino in the Sky: And Other Atheistic Tales[16] in 1996. This is a collection of short stories in various styles presenting philosophical arguments. ISBN 978-1573921114.

In 2011 Martin self published a fiction novel, Murder In Lecture Hall B[17], about a murder in the classroom of a philosophy professor whose interests are Religions and Atheism. ISBN 9781466310063

Martin also wrote 8 short plays with moral or philosophical themes that are available on his website.[18]

See also


  1. Michael Martin, "The Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God", The New Zealand Rationalist & Humanist, Autumn 1996.
  2. "Michael Martin". Boston University. Retrieved 2007-05-25.; "Michael Martin". Secular Web Kiosk and Bookstore. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  3. "MICHAEL L. MARTIN's Obituary on Boston Globe". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  4. Lowder, Jeffery (2015-05-28). "Michael Martin Has Died". Patheos. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  5. W, Justin (2015-06-03). "Michael Martin (1932-2015)". Daily Nous. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  6. 1 2 "Center for Inquiry News: Michael L. Martin, Philosopher and Author, 1932–2015". www.centerforinquiry.net. Retrieved 2016-10-13.ref=CFINews
  7. "Michael Martin » Philosophy | Blog Archive | Boston University". www.bu.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  8. Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, p. 24.
  9. Flew, Anthony (1976). The presumption of atheism and other philosophical essays on God, freedom, and immortality. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 978-0064921190.
  10. "Reformed Apologetics". www.reformed.org. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  11. "Antithesis at Reformed.org". www.reformed.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  12. "TANG". infidels.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  13. "The Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God". infidels.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  14. "The Fernandes-Martin Debate on the Existence of God". infidels.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  15. Fernandes, Phil; Martin, Michael (2000). Theism vs. Atheism: The Internet Debate (Dr. Phil Fernandes vs. Dr. Michael Martin). Ibd Press. ISBN 978-0965648622.
  16. Martin, Michael (1996). The Big Domino in the Sky: And Other Atheistic Tales. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1573921114.
  17. ""Murder In Lecture Hall B" by Mr Michael Martin". CreateSpace. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  18. "Michael Martin - Plays". www.profmichaelmartin.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
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