By David Berman
Probably no doctrine has excited as a lot horror and abuse as atheism. this primary historical past of British atheism, first released in 1987, tries to give an explanation for this response whereas displaying the advance of atheism from Hobbes to Russell. even if avowed atheism seemed unusually overdue – 1782 in Britain – there have been covert atheists within the heart 17th century. by means of tracing its improvement from so early a date, Dr Berman provides an account of an enormous and interesting strand of highbrow history.
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Extra resources for A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell
Although he says that he is disputing with nonspeculative atheists, he also calls attention to speculative atheists, or, at least, atheists who pretend to speculate. In the Preface to the reader, he says: 'Now this is the worst kinde of Atheisme of all other, when as Atheisme is grounded, not so much upon Ignorance, as it is upon the opinion of knowledge. ' Of course, this may be an expression of the attitude, sometimes expressed by churchmen, that their own age is the worst and most wicked. ) However, I suspect that there is really something in Fotherby's claim that the atheism of his time is 'grounded upon the opinion of knowledge', for he spends a suspiciously large number of pages denying the existence of atheism and defending his denial.
Some, as we shall see in the following two cases, may be seen as justifying the impossibility of believing in atheism. IX. Herbert and Fotherby In perhaps the best-known chapter of his De veritate (1624) - Chapter 9, 'Common Notions Concerning Religion' - Lord Herbert of Cherbury denies that there are atheists. Some men, he allows, 'appear to be atheists'. Yet, he goes on to say: In reality they are not atheists; but because they have noticed that some people apply false and shocking attributes to God, they have preferred not to believe in God, than to believe in a God of such a character.
Of course, as I have just tried to show, once one concedes partial speculative and partial nonspeculative atheism one will find it difficult to resist the conclusion that there may also be plain speculative and plain non-speculative atheism. And how shall we know that what we call mixt atheism is not really plain speculative atheism? After all, the practical atheism of the atheist in question may be an effect of his speculative atheism . It is worth mentioning that Bentley also denies (p. 34) the possibility of atheism in another, more sociological or anthropological, sense.
A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell by David Berman