A Short History of Atheism (Library of Modern Religion) - download pdf or read online

By Gavin Hyman

ISBN-10: 1848851375

ISBN-13: 9781848851375

The previous few years have noticeable a striking surge of well known curiosity within the subject of atheism. Books approximately atheism through 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, specifically in wide awake competition to the perceived social risk posed by means of religion and faith, has been startling. even if, as Gavin Hyman issues out, regardless of their incidence and recognition, what usually characterizes those debates is an absence of nuance and class. they are often shrill, blind to the old complexity of debates approximately trust, and have a tendency to lapse into comic strip. what's wanted is a transparent and good proficient presentation of ways atheistic rules originated and constructed, on the way to light up their modern relevance and alertness. That job is what the writer undertakes the following. Exploring the increase of atheism as an particular philosophical place (notably within the paintings of Denis Diderot), Hyman strains its improvement within the later principles of Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley. Drawing additionally at the paintings of up to date students like Amos Funkenstein and Michael J Buckley, the writer indicates that, considering 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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Additional resources for A Short History of Atheism (Library of Modern Religion)

Example text

But could it not be said that the great masters of medieval theology were themselves ‘certain’ of their faith and that they recognised an indispensable role for human ‘reason’? Was Descartes really enacting such a radical shift? Certainly, Thomas Aquinas’s faith was one in which he had a sure and unshakable confidence. But the notion that this faith was one that could be demonstrated beyond doubt by logical and publicly demonstrable procedures would have been an alien concept to him. 1 Such a conception is thought to be a retrospective postCartesian projection onto the medieval mind.

It is no longer the case that human reason is justified by the fact of its being created, by its participation in divine knowledge; on the contrary, it is now revealed knowledge that is justified by its being founded upon and justified by human reason. This inversion did not, of course, appear from nowhere and can be properly understood only in the context of the intellectual and historical context in which Descartes was writing. When Descartes’s Meditations was written, Europe was in a state of religious and political upheaval.

It can lead us astray and can be mistaken in all sorts of ways, and does not provide the sort of solidity required to fulfil the function of a ‘certain foundation’. In contrast, such a purpose may be served by the data of our empirical senses. For Locke, this was not simply a prescriptive philosophical methodology. It claimed to be, more fundamentally, a descriptive account of how our knowledge is, in fact, formed. Famously, Locke portrayed an image of the mind, in its pre-formative state, as being a tabula rasa (blank slate) upon which sense data leave their impressions.

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A Short History of Atheism (Library of Modern Religion) by Gavin Hyman


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