By Gavin Hyman
The previous couple of years have visible a striking surge of renowned curiosity within the subject of atheism. Books approximately atheism by means of writers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have figured prominently in bestseller lists and feature attracted frequent dialogue within the media. The ubiquity of public debates approximately atheism, particularly in unsleeping competition to the perceived social danger posed via religion and faith, has been startling. despite the fact that, as Gavin Hyman issues out, regardless of their occurrence and recognition, what usually characterizes those debates is a scarcity of nuance and class. they are often shrill, unaware of the ancient complexity of debates approximately trust, and have a tendency to lapse into comic strip. what's wanted is a transparent and good expert presentation of the way atheistic principles originated and constructed, with the intention to light up their modern relevance and alertness. That activity is what the writer undertakes right here. Exploring the increase of atheism as an specific philosophical place (notably within the paintings of Denis Diderot), Hyman strains its improvement within the later rules of Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley. Drawing additionally at the paintings of up to date students like Amos Funkenstein and Michael J Buckley, the writer exhibits that, due to the fact that in contemporary theology the concept that of God which atheists negate is altering, the triumph of its advocates will not be particularly as unequivocal as Hitchens and Dawkins could have us think.
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Extra resources for A Short History of Atheism (Library of Modern Religion)
It is significant, for instance, that when one of the pioneering British Christian Socialists, the scholar–clergyman F. D. Maurice, was being censured by his superiors at King’s College, London, where he held a Chair, it was as much his left-wing political activities as his unorthodox doctrinal writings that perturbed them. One inevitably seemed to entail the other. But in spite of atheism’s growing connection with immorality, metaphysical presumption and left-wing revolution, there were still some who were committed to making it an acceptable and respectable outlook.
Both were aware that a new spirit was stirring and, although people were scarcely aware of it yet, they knew that this new spirit would have far-reaching consequences. What may be described as the ‘age of atheism’ (to borrow Gerhard Ebeling’s phrase) did not become a reality until the last 40 years of the twentieth century. This has led some commentators to ask why the new spirit detected by Nietzsche and Newman took so long to come to birth. Stephen Toulmin, for instance, has suggested that the intellectual, psychological and artistic conditions for the emergence of the cultural Zeitgeist of the 1960s were already well in place by as early as 1914.
This was the assumption that underlay his well-known distinction between ‘natural theology’ and ‘revealed theology’. 2 But these debates mostly revolve around the extent to which Aquinas accords an independent validity to human reason apart from faith. But even if he does, almost all are agreed that human reason (natural theology) alone is insufficient and stands in need of supplementation by divine revelation (revealed theology). For Aquinas, this had to be the case, because human reason was, by its very nature, finite and limited, which in turn derives from his belief that human reason was creaturely, an effect of its Creator.
A Short History of Atheism (Library of Modern Religion) by Gavin Hyman