Michael L. Martin, Philosopher and Author, 1932–2015

Michael L. Martin, an American analytic philosopher and one of the most formidable academic champions of atheism, passed away unexpectedly at the age of eighty-three in Boston on May 27. Dr. Martin received a BS in business administration in 1956 from Arizona State University, an MA in philosophy in 1958 from the University of Arizona, and a PhD in philosophy in 1962 from Harvard University. He started his teaching career at the University of Colorado in 1962 as Assistant Professor before beginning his lifelong career at Boston University in 1965. He was Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Boston University before retiring.

Martin’s best-known book was Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (1989), which is described by Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry, as “the most capacious highly technical philosophical examination of the case against God's existence ever published.”

Additionally, Martin wrote or edited several books including 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 also wrote numerous articles and reviews in various publications including FI, and was on the editorial board for the philosophical journal, Philo, published by the Center for Inquiry. His focus in research and writing was always the philosophy of religion and the defense of atheism, but his interests included the philosophy of social science and law. He also engaged Christian apologists in debates on the existence of God, most famously with Phil Fernandes in 1997.

Free Inquiry’s August/September 2015 issue features excerpts from Martin’s latest book, The Myth of an Afterlife, co-edited with Keith Augustine. One of those excerpts is one of Martin’s own articles from that volume.

The Center for Inquiry extends its sincerest condolences to the family of Michael Martin and thanks him for his contributions to the atheist and philosophy communities.