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The last few years have seen a remarkable surge of popular interest in the topic of atheism. Books about atheism by writers like richard dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have figured prominently in bestseller lists and have attracted widespread discussion in the media. The ubiquity of public debates about atheism, especially in conscious opposition to the perceived social threat posed by faith and religion, has been startling. However, as gavin Hyman points out, despite their prevalence and popularity, what often characterises these debates is a lack of nuance and sophistication. They can be shrill, ignorant of the historical complexity of discussions about belief, and tend to lapse into caricature. What is needed is a clear and well-informed presentation of how atheistic ideas originated and developed, in order to illuminate their contemporary relevance and application. That task is what the author undertakes here. Charting the rise of atheism as an explicit philosophical position (notably in the work of denis diderot), Hyman traces its development in the ideas of descartes, Locke and Berkeley, and draws too on the work of important contemporary scholars like amos Funkenstein and michael J. Buckley. arguing that the plausibility and persuasiveness of atheism is sustained by the demise of a religion that is defined by the presuppositions and assumptions of modernity, the author boldly suggests that atheism - like the belief to which it is antipathetic - is itself vulnerable to a future that challenges the intellectual inheritance of the enlightenment. For anyone interested in the origins of atheism (whether they consider themselves to be ‘an atheist’, or ‘religious’, or indeed somewhere in-between), and in the rich cultural, philosophical and historical matrix out of which it emerged, A Short History of Atheism offers a fascinating exploration of the often surprising co-dependency of faith and its negation.

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Genre: Philosophy
Author: Gavin Hyman
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
Release: 2010-09-30
File: 232 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780857730350

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Much has been written on religions of all types, the history of religious belief, and on the supernatural interpretation of the world, but where can we turn for an account of unbelief-the naturalistic alternative?James Thrower's concise and direct approach examines the thinkers and schools which defined atheism, beginning with Greece, Rome, and Israel. He notes that the intellectual status of unbelief rose significantly in Western Europe as a result of the clash in the Middle Ages between the powerful force of faith and the emerging but still limited influence of reason. Physical science was developing and the world of the intellect would expand during the Renaissance that followed.This delightfully pertinent short history illustrates the leading issues separating the theist from the atheist and agnostic, and sheds light on world events and the inconsistencies inherent in supernaturalism and theistic theories. Thrower discusses atheism both as a reaction to belief and as a separate and consistent form of belief in a world stripped of the divine, where reason, science, and humankind's endless search for knowledge flourish.James Thrower (Aberdeen, Scotland) is professor of the history of religions at King's College, the University of Aberdeen.

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Genre: Religion
Author: James Thrower
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Release: 1971
File: 143 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781615923502

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Genre: Atheism
Author: James Thrower
Publisher: London : Pemberton Books
Release: 1971
File: 143 Pages
ISBN-13: UOM:39015003351114

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A skeptical yet deeply curious survey of how and why human beings have worshipped throughout the ages—from sun gods and cave paintings to Mormonism. What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltered in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? And why has belief thrived ever since, shaping thousands of generations of shamans, pharaohs, Aztec priests and Mayan rulers, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Nazis, and Scientologists? As our dreams and nightmares have changed over millennia, so have our beliefs. The gods we created have evolved with us through a narrative fraught with human sacrifice, political upheaval and bloody wars. Belief was man’s most epic labor of invention. It has been our closest companion, and has followed mankind across the continents and through all of recorded history. In An Atheist’s History of Belief, award-winning novelist and committed atheist Matthew Kneale “aims to tell you everything you’ve wondered about religion but never dared to ask” (The Guardian, UK).

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Genre: Religion
Author: Matthew Kneale
Publisher: Catapult
Release: 2014-01-14
File: 271 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781619023710

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Do you think of atheists as immoral pessimists who live their lives without meaning, purpose, or values? Think again! Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral.

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Genre: Philosophy
Author: Julian Baggini
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release: 2003-06-26
File: 119 Pages
ISBN-13: 0192804243

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This compact, forcefully argued work calls Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and the rest of the so-called 'New Atheists' to account for failing to take seriously the historical record to which they so freely appeal when attacking religion. The popularity of such books as Harris's The End of Faith, Dawkins's The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great set off a spate of reviews, articles, and books for and against, yet in all the controversy little attention has focused on the historical evidence and arguments they present to buttress their case. This book is the first to challenge in depth the distortions of this New Atheist history. It presents the evidence that the three authors and their allies ignore. It points out the lack of historical credibility in their work when judged by the conventional criteria used by mainstream historians. It does not deal with the debate over theism and atheism nor does it aim to defend the historical record of Christianity or religion more generally. It does aim to defend the integrity of history as a discipline in the face of its distortion by those who violate it.

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Genre: Philosophy
Author: B. Painter
Publisher: Springer
Release: 2014-11-19
File: 194 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781137477699

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The clash between atheism and religion has become the defining battle of the 21st century. Books on and about atheism retain high profile and popularity, and atheist movements on both sides of the Atlantic capture headlines with high-profile campaigns and adverts. However, very little has been written on the history of atheism, and this book fills that conspicuous gap. Instead of treating atheism just as a philosophical or scientific idea about the non-existence of God, Atheists: The Origin of the Species places the movement in its proper social and political context. Because atheism in Europe developed in reaction to the Christianity that dominated the continent's intellectual, social and political life, it adopted, adapted and reacted against its institutions as well as its ideas. Accordingly, the history of atheism is as much about social and political movements as it is scientific or philosophical ideas. This is the story not only of Hobbes, Hume, and Darwin, but also of Thomas Aitkenhead hung for blasphemous atheism, Percy Shelley expelled for adolescent atheism, and the Marquis de Sade imprisoned for libertine atheism; of the French revolutionary Terror and the Soviet League of the Militant Godless; of the rise of the US Religious Right and of Islamic terrorism. Looking at atheism in its full sociopolitical context helps explain why it has looked so very different in different countries. It also explains why there has been a recent upsurge in atheism, particularly in Britain and the US, where religion has unexpectedly come to play such a significant role in political affairs. This leads us to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: we should expect to hear more about atheism in the future for the simple reason that God is back.

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Genre: Religion
Author: Nick Spencer
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release: 2014-05-08
File: 224 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781472902979

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Christopher Hitchens, described in the London Observer as “one of the most prolific, as well as brilliant, journalists of our time” takes on his biggest subject yet–the increasingly dangerous role of religion in the world. In the tradition of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris’s recent bestseller, The End Of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix. From the Hardcover edition.

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Genre: Social Science
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Release: 2008-11-19
File: 320 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781551991764

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BOOK EXCERPT:

The last few years have seen a remarkable surge of popular interest in the topic of atheism. Books about atheism by writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have figured prominently in bestseller lists and have attracted widespread discussion in the media. The ubiquity of public debates about atheism, especially in conscious opposition to the perceived social threat posed by faith and religion, has been startling. However, as Gavin Hyman points out, despite their prevalence and popularity, what often characterises these debates is a lack of nuance and sophistication. They can be shrill, ignorant of the historical complexity of debates about belief, and tend to lapse into caricature. What is needed is a clear and well informed presentation of how atheistic ideas originated and developed, in order to illuminate their contemporary relevance and application. That task is what the author undertakes here. Exploring the rise of atheism as an explicit philosophical position (notably in the work of Denis Diderot), Hyman traces its development in the later ideas of Descartes, Locke and Berkeley. Drawing also on the work of contemporary scholars like Amos Funkenstein and Michael J Buckley, the author shows that, since in recent theology the concept of God which atheists negate is changing, the triumph of its advocates may not be quite as unequivocal as Hitchens and Dawkins would have us believe.

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Genre: Religion
Author: Gavin Hyman
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release: 2010-09-30
File: 232 Pages
ISBN-13: 9780857718310

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The historical achievements of religious belief have been large and well chronicled. But what about the accomplishments of those who have challenged religion? Traveling from classical Greece to twenty-first century America, Imagine There's No Heaven explores the role of disbelief in shaping Western civilization. At each juncture common themes emerge: by questioning the role of gods in the heavens or the role of a God in creating man on earth, nonbelievers help move science forward. By challenging the divine right of monarchs and the strictures of holy books, nonbelievers, including Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot, help expand human liberties, and influence the early founding of the United States. Revolutions in science, in politics, in philosophy, in art, and in psychology have been led, on multiple occasions, by those who are free of the constraints of religious life. Mitchell Stephens tells the often-courageous tales of history's most important atheists— like Denis Diderot and Salman Rushdie. Stephens makes a strong and original case for their importance not only to today's New Atheist movement but to the way many of us—believers and nonbelievers—now think and live.

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Genre: Religion
Author: Mitchell Stephens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: 2014-02-25
File: 336 Pages
ISBN-13: 9781137437655

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