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Known as the `four horsemen' of New Atheism, these four big thinkers of the twenty-first century met only once. Their electrifying examination of ideas on this remarkable occasion was intense and wide-ranging. Everything that was said as they agreed and disagreed with one another, interrogated ideas and exchanged insights - about religion and atheism, science and sense - speaks with urgency to our present age.
Questions they asked of each other included:
The dialogue was recorded, and is now transcribed and presented here with new introductions from the surviving three horsemen. With a sparkling introduction from Stephen Fry, it makes essential reading for all their admirers and for anyone interested in exploring the tensions between faith and reason.
Atheism is often considered to be a negative or pessimistic belief which is characterized by a rejection of values and purpose and a fierce opposition to religion. This Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism, arguing that most western atheism is so-named only because it exists in a tradition in which theism is the norm. Julian Baggini instead asserts that atheists are typically naturalists, who believe that meaning and morality are possible in a finite, natural world. This second edition includes a new chapter covering the impact and legacy of 'New Atheism', a powerful new movement in atheism in the early twenty first century, driven by books from authors such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and which is having a profound impact across the Western world. Baggini also considers whether East Asia has been historically atheist, and atheism in recent European history, before exploring the position of atheists around the world today. Throughout, the book presents an intellectual case for atheism that rests as much upon positive arguments for its truth as on negative arguments against religion. Very Short Introductions: Brilliant, Sharp, Inspiring ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Is modern racism a product of secularisation and the decline of Christian universalism? The debate has raged for decades, but up to now, the actual racial views of historical atheists and freethinkers have never been subjected to a systematic analysis. Race in a Godless World sets out to correct the oversight. It centres on Britain and the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when popular atheist movements were emerging and scepticism about the truth of Christianity was becoming widespread. Covering racial and evolutionary science, imperialism, slavery and racial prejudice in theory and practice, it provides a much-needed account of the complex and sometimes contradictory ideas espoused by the transatlantic community of atheists and freethinkers. It also reflects on the social dimension of irreligiousness, exploring how working-class atheists' experiences of exclusion could make them sympathetic to other marginalised groups. -- .
In the twenty-first century, political correctness, cynicism, prag-matism, and the commodification of sex have reduced romantic love to a discredited myth or a recreational sport--"a cause for embarrassment," says Cristina Nehring. In "A Vindication of Love," Nehring wrests romantic love from the clutches of retrograde feminists and cutting-edge capitalists, thrill-seeking convenience shoppers and safe-sex moralists. With help from lovers ranging from Heloise and Abelard to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Nehring celebrates the wild, irreverent, and uncompromising models of love we have inherited--as she rediscovers romantic love's fearless and heroic provenance, and challenges readers to demand partnerships that fully engage body, heart, and mind.
The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types. His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries religious dogma from medieval times still serves to abuse basic human rights such as women's and gay rights. And all from a belief in a God whose existence lacks evidence of any kind. Dawkins attacks God in all his forms. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children. The God Delusion is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject.
Enlightenment-Aufklarung in German, Lumieres in French-is more an idea than a period. But it is an idea that took hold in a particular historical context of revolutionary scientific advances, increasing economic and social freedom, rising literacy and prosperity, and a greater willingness to challenge the authoritarianism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In The Wisdom of the Enlightenment, author Michael K. Kellogg points to 1637, the year that gave us Rene Descartes' landmark inquiry into truth, as the beginning of a period that radically changed individual human thought and collective societal action. From Descartes' assertion of "I think, therefore I am," to the philosophies of Enlightenment thinkers like Moliere, Spinoza, Voltaire, Hume, and Kant, this book charts the new and revolutionary philosophies at a time when progress seemed possible across the whole range of human knowledge and endeavor. In sweeping aside tired superstitions and applying a new scientific methodology, the Enlightenment ideas of progress through free exercise of reason ushered us into the modern world. This engaging and comprehensive survey of Enlightenment thoughts and thinkers is a celebration of the faith that all problems are solvable by human reason.
The forgotten story of the nineteenth-century freethinkers and twentieth-century humanists who tried to build their own secular religion In The Church of Saint Thomas Paine, Leigh Eric Schmidt tells the surprising story of how freethinking liberals in nineteenth-century America promoted a secular religion of humanity centered on the deistic revolutionary Thomas Paine (1737-1809) and how their descendants eventually became embroiled in the culture wars of the late twentieth century. After Paine's remains were stolen from his grave in New Rochelle, New York, and shipped to England in 1819, the reverence of his American disciples took a material turn in a long search for his relics. Paine's birthday was always a red-letter day for these believers in democratic cosmopolitanism and philanthropic benevolence, but they expanded their program to include a broader array of rites and ceremonies, particularly funerals free of Christian supervision. They also worked to establish their own churches and congregations in which to practice their religion of secularism. All of these activities raised serious questions about the very definition of religion and whether it included nontheistic fellowships and humanistic associations-a dispute that erupted again in the second half of the twentieth century. As right-wing Christians came to see secular humanism as the most dangerous religion imaginable, small communities of religious humanists, the heirs of Paine's followers, were swept up in new battles about religion's public contours and secularism's moral perils. An engrossing account of an important but little-known chapter in American history, The Church of Saint Thomas Paine reveals why the lines between religion and secularism are often much blurrier than we imagine.
What do you get an atheist for Christmas?
If you're an atheist, you don't believe in the three wise men, so this Christmas, we bring you not three, but forty-two wise men and women, bearing gifts of comedy, science, philosophy, the arts, and knowledge. What does it feel like to be born on Christmas day? How can you most effectively use lights to make your house visible from space? And where can you listen to the echoes of the Big Bang on December 25? The Atheist's Guide to Christmas answers all these questions and more: Richard Dawkins tells an original Christmas story.Phil Plait fact-checks the Star of Bethlehem.Neal Pollack teaches his family a lesson on holiday spirit.Simon Singh offers a very special scientific experiment.Simon le Bon loses his faith (but keeps church music).AC Grayling explains how to have a truly happy Christmas.
Plus thirty-six other brilliant, funny, free-thinking pieces perfect for anyone who doesn't think of holidays as holy days.
All author advances and royalties for The Atheist's Guide to Christmas will go to Terrence Higgins Trust.
In the courtroom, lawyers depend on rules of evidence to make their arguments. A case is made by establishing certain facts from which proof can be determined. But what happens when the truth seems to be a matter of faith? Can the legal mind discern the validity of one's belief or unbelief? Nationally recognized trial lawyer Mark Lanier turns his analytical mind to the arguments for atheism and agnosticism. With critical thinking and precision of thought, he examines the rationales made for unbelief and assesses them on their own terms, finding points of strength and weakness in their logic and coherence. He considers whether atheistic frameworks give satisfactory and consistent explanatory answers for understanding human existence and the world around us. He cross-examines the strongest arguments of prominent atheists and also interrogates the questions of agnostics as to whether God is knowable. Through his evenhanded, levelheaded approach, Lanier challenges us all to decide for ourselves what we believe.
Examines how "Religious Nones" negotiate tensions with those who think they ought to provide their children with a religious upbringing The fastest growing religion in America is-none! One fifth of Americans now list their religion as "none," up from only 7 percent two decades ago. Among adults under 30, those poised to be the parents of the next generation, fully one third are religiously unaffiliated. Yet these "Nones," especially parents, still face prejudice in a culture where religion is widely seen as good for your kids. What do Nones believe, and how do they negotiate tensions with those convinced that they ought to provide their children with a religious upbringing? Drawing on survey data and in-depth personal interviews with religiously unaffiliated parents across the country, Christel Manning provides important demographic data on American "Nones" and offers critical nuance to our understanding of the term. She shows that context is crucial in understanding how those without religious ties define themselves and raise their families. Indeed, she demonstrates that Nones hold a wide variety of worldviews, ranging from deeply religious to highly secular, and transmit them in diverse ways. What ties them all together is a commitment to spiritual choice-a belief in the moral equivalence of religions and secular worldviews and in the individual's right to choose-and it is that choice they seek to pass on to their children. The volume weaves in stories from the author's interviews throughout, showing how non-religious parents grapple with pressure from their community and how they think about religious issues. Engagingly written and thoroughly researched, Losing Our Religion will appeal to scholars, parents, and anyone interested in understanding the changing American religious landscape.
A passionate, highly accessible clarion call to a world dangerously threatened by irrational superstitions of all kinds. 'Truly a book for our time' Steven Pinker 'In Sweden's public square, Christer Sturmark has done as much as anyone to uphold reason and humane critical thinking' Richard Dawkins 'As lucid and illuminating as it is warm and inspiring' Rebecca Goldstein In country after country, conspiracy theories and religious dogmas that once seemed to have been overtaken by enlightened thought are helping to loft authoritarian leaders into power. The effects are being felt by women, ethnic minorities, teachers, scientists and students - and by the environment, the ultimate victim of climate change denial. We need clear thinking now more than ever. Christer Sturmark is a crusading secular humanist as well as a Swedish publisher and entrepreneur, and The Flame of Reason is his manifesto for a better world. It provides a set of simple tools for clear thinking in the face of populist dogmas, anti-science attitudes and pseudo-philosophy, and suggestions for how we can move towards a new enlightenment. From truth to Quantum Physics, moral philosophy to the Myers-Briggs test, Sturmark offers a passionate defence of rational thought, science, tolerance and pluralism; a warm and engaging guide for anyone who wants to better navigate the modern world. Translated by and co-written with Douglas Hofstadter, celebrated cognitive scientist, physicist and author of Godel, Escher, Bach.
Religion in Europe is currently undergoing changes that are reconfiguring physical and virtual spaces of practice and belief, and these changes need to be understood with regards to the proliferation of digital media discourses. This book explores religious change in Europe through a comparative approach that analyzes Atheist, Catholic, and Muslim blogs as spaces for articulating narratives about religion that symbolically challenge the power of religious institutions. The book adds theoretical complexity to the study of religion and digital media with the concept of hypermediated religious spaces. The theory of hypermediation helps to critically discuss the theory of secularization and to contextualize religious change as the result of multiple entangled phenomena. It considers religion as being connected with secular and post-secular spaces, and media as embedding material forms, institutions, and technologies. A spatial perspective contextualizes hypermediated religious spaces as existing at the interstice of alternative and mainstream, private and public, imaginary and real venues. By offering the innovative perspective of hypermediated religious spaces, this book will be of significant interest to scholars of religious studies, the sociology of religion, and digital media.
In 2013, when the state of Oklahoma erected a statue of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol, a group calling themselves The Satanic Temple applied to erect a statue of Baphomet alongside the Judeo-Christian tablets. Since that time, The Satanic Temple has become a regular voice in national conversations about religious freedom, disestablishment, and government overreach. In addition to petitioning for Baphomet to appear alongside another monument of the Ten Commandments in Arkansas, the group has launched campaigns to include Satanic "nativity scenes" on government property in Florida, Michigan, and Indiana, offer Satanic prayers at a high school football game in Seattle, and create "After School Satan" programs in elementary schools that host Christian extracurricular programs. Since their 2012 founding, The Satanic Temple has established 19 chapters and now claims 100,000 supporters. Is this just a political group perpetuating a series of stunts? Or is it a sincere religious movement? Speak of the Devil is the first book-length study of The Satanic Temple. Joseph Laycock, a scholar of new religious movements, contends that the emergence of "political Satanism" marks a significant moment in American religious history that will have a lasting impact on how Americans frame debates about religious freedom. Though the group gained attention for its strategic deployment of outrage, it claims to have developed beyond politics into a genuine religious movement. Equal parts history and ethnography, Speak of the Devil is Laycock's attempt to take seriously The Satanic Temple's work to redefine religion, the nature of pluralism and religious tolerance, and what "religious freedom" means in America.
Owning the Secular examines three case studies dealing with religious symbols and cultural identity, including two public controversies over the veil in Canada - at the federal level and in the province of Quebec - and an ex-Muslim podcaster rethinking her atheist identity in the era of Donald Trump and the alt-right. Drawing on theories of discourse analysis and ideology critique, this study calls attention to an evolution in how secularism, nationalism, and multiculturalism in Euro-Western states are debated and understood as competing groups contest and rearrange the meaning of these terms. This is especially true in the digital age as online cultures have transformed how information is spread, how we imagine our communities, build alliances, and produce shared meaning. From recent attempts to prohibit religious symbols in public, to Trump's so-called Muslim bans, to growing disenchantment with the promises of digital media, this study turns the lens how nation-states, organizations, and individuals attempt to "own" the secular to manage cultural differences, shore up group identity, and stake a claim to some version of Western values amidst the growing uncertainties of neoliberal capitalism.
Varieties of Secularism is an ethnographically rich, theoretically well-informed, and intellectually coherent volume which builds off the work of Talal Asad, Charles Taylor, and others who have engaged the issue of secularism(s) and in socio-political life. The volume seeks to examine theories of secularism/secularity and examine concrete ethnographic cases in order to further the theoretical discussion.
Whereas Taylor 's magisterial work draws up the conditions and problems of a belief in God in Western modernity, it leaves unexplored the challenges posed by the spiritual in modernity outside of the North Atlantic rim. This anthology seeks to begin that task. It does so by suggesting that the kind of secularity described by Taylor is only one amongst others. By attending to the shifting relationship between proper religion and bad faiths; between politically valorised and embarrassing spiritual phenomena; between the new visibilities and silences of magic, ancestors, and religion in democratic politics, this book seeks to outline the particular formations of secularism that have become possible in Asia from China to Indonesia and from Bahrain to Timor-Leste.
This book will appeal to students and scholars of Asian religion, politics and anthropology.
This book offers a philosophical defence of nihilism. The authors argue that the concept of nihilism has been employed pejoratively by almost all philosophers and religious leaders to indicate a widespread cultural crisis of truth, meaning, or morals. Many religious believers think atheism leads to moral chaos (because it leads to nihilism), and atheists typically insist that we can make life meaningful through our own actions (thereby avoiding nihilism). In this way, both sides conflate the cosmic sense of meaning at stake with a social sense of meaning. This book charts a third course between extremist and alarmist views of nihilism. It casts doubt on the assumption that nihilism is something to fear, or a problem which human culture should overcome by way of seeking, discovering, or making meaning. In this way, the authors believe that a revised understanding of nihilism can help remove a significant barrier of misunderstanding between religious believers and atheists. A Defence of Nihilism will be of interest to scholars and students in philosophy, religion, and other disciplines who are interested in questions surrounding the meaning of life.
This book presents a pragmatic response to arguments against religion made by the New Atheism movement. The author argues that analytic and empirical philosophies of religion-the mainstream approaches in contemporary philosophy of religion-are methodologically unequipped to address the "Threefold Challenge" made by popular New Atheist thinkers such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. The book has three primary motivations. First, it provides an interpretation of the New Atheist movement that treats their claims as philosophical arguments and not just rhetorical exercises or demagoguery. Second, it assesses and responds to these claims by elaborating four distinct contemporary philosophical perspectives- analytic philosophy, empirical philosophy, continental philosophy, and pragmatism-as well as contextualizing these perspectives in the history of the philosophy of religion. Finally, the book offers a metaphilosophical critique, returning again and again to the question of method. In the end, the author settles upon a modified version of pragmatism that he concludes is best suited for articulating the terms and stakes of the God Debate. Challenging the New Atheism will be of interest to scholars and students of American philosophy and philosophy of religion.
This book draws on a study of the Sunday Assembly- a "godless congregation"- to reflect on how the Church might better deal with suffering, lament and theodicy. Against a backdrop of a shifting attitudes towards religion, humans are now better connected than ever before. It is no exaggeration to suggest that we carry the suffering of the world in our pockets. In the midst of these intersecting issues, the Sunday Assembly provides insight into how meaning-making in times of trauma and crisis is changing. Drawing on practical theology and using ethnographic tools of investigation, this book includes findings from interviews and observation with the Sunday Assembly in London and Edinburgh. It explores the Sunday Assembly's philosophy of "celebrating life," and what this means in practice. At times, this emphasis on celebration can result in situations where suffering is "passed over," or only briefly acknowledged. In response, this book considers a similar tendency within white Protestant churches to avoid explicit discussion of difficult issues. This book challenges churches to consider how they might resist the avoidance of suffering through the practice of lament.The insights provided by this book will be of particular interest to scholars of Religious Studies, Practical Theology, Secularism and Atheism/Non-religion.
In this deeply revealing and engaging autobiography, Herb Silverman tells his iconoclastic life story. He takes the reader from his childhood as an Orthodox Jew in Philadelphia, where he stopped fasting on Yom Kippur to test God's existence, to his adult life in the heart of the Bible Belt, where he became a legendary figure within America's secular activist community and remains one of its most beloved leaders. Never one to shy from controversy, Silverman relates many of his high-profile battles with the Religious Right, including his decision to run for governor of South Carolina to challenge the state's constitutional provision that prohibited atheists from holding public office. "Candidate Without a Prayer "offers an intimate portrait of a central player in today's increasingly heated culture wars. It will be sure to charm both believers and nonbelievers alike, and will lead all those who care about the separation of church and state to give thanks.
Militant atheism is on the rise. In recent years Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have produced a steady stream of best-selling books denigrating religious belief. These authors are merely the leading edge of a larger movement that includes much of the scientific community.
In response, mathematician David Berlinski, himself a secular Jew, delivers a biting defense of religious thought. "The Devil's Delusion" is a brilliant, incisive, and funny book that explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it is the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world.
Secularism: The Basics is a concise and engaging introduction to confusing and contradictory public discussions of secularism across the globe. "Secularism" must be the most confused and convoluted term in the entire global political lexicon. From New York to Paris, to Istanbul, to Addis Ababa, to New Delhi, to Montevideo, there are countless examples of politicians, religious leaders and journalists, invoking the S-word in heated debates about public education, gender, sex, national symbols, and artistic freedom. In this lively and lucid book, Jacques Berlinerblau addresses why secularism is defined in so many ways and why it so ignites people's passions. In so doing, he explores the following important questions: What does secularism mean? Why should we care about this idea? What are the different types of secularism and what are their histories? What are the basic principles of political secularisms? Why are secularism and Atheism often confused? What is the relationship between secularism and LGBTQ rights? What opposition are secularisms up against? What does the future hold for a concept millennia in the making, but only really operationalized in the twentieth century? With a glossary of key terms, case studies, informative tables, and suggestions for further reading throughout, the book considers key philosophical, religious, anti-religious, post-modern and post-colonial arguments around secularism. This book is an ideal starting point for anyone seeking a readable introduction to the often-conflicting interpretations of one of our era's most complex and controversial ideas.
Why is homemade pie better than store-bought? Because it is made with love, special care and personal attention. Betty Brogaard's atheism is just like that. She knows that life without faith is not only intellectually justified, it is emotionally fulfilling. Betty's story is proof that atheism leads not just to truth, but to happiness. --Dan Barker, author of Godless This outstanding volume progresses magnificently along two beautifully interwoven lines--a personal story and the scientific method. --David Mills, author of Atheist Universe Betty Brogaard was raised to be a good Christian. By the time she was 20 years old, she had joined a fundamentalist church. She even met and married a young man who became a minister in the congregation. However, the more she came to understand Christianity from within, the more she found herself asking questions instead of finding answers. In The Homemade Atheists, Betty shares her sincere, personal and fascinating journey from the mental slavery of religion to the happiness she found in freethought. Along the way and without malice, she offers questions that challenge you to analyze your own beliefs--exactly as she did over a peroid of many years. Her transformation provides a wealth of insight is for anyone seeking a path to a nonreligious way of life.
Within contemporary Western European academic, media, and socio-political spheres, Muslims are predominantly seen through the lens of increased religiosity. This religiosity is often seen as problematic, especially in the context of securitised discourses of Islamist terrorism. Yet, there are clear indications that a growing number of people who grew up in Muslim families no longer subscribe to Islam or call themselves religious at all. Drawing on fieldwork in the UK and the Netherlands, this study examines the experiences of people moving out of Islam. It rigorously questions the antagonistic nature of the debate between 'the religious' and 'the secular', or who is in and who is out, and argues for recognition of the ambiguity that most of us live in. Revealing many complex forms of moving out, this study adds much-needed nuance to understandings of secularity and Muslim identities in Europe.
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