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Category Archive: History of Western Atheism

Sep 06 2007

The history of western atheism-5: The religious climate in Darwin’s time

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was aware of all the religious debates swirling around him as a young man, although they did not seem to divert him from his passionate pursuit of collecting beetles. In the early to mid-1800′s, England was in a reaction against the radicalism and turmoil …

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Sep 05 2007

The history of western atheism-4: Atheism spreads to the masses

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) In his BBC4 TV documentary A Rough History of Atheism, Jonathan Miller points out that by the end of the 18th century, while skepticism of god and religion was gaining ground among the intellectuals and the elites, and was probably secretly quite widespread, the spread of atheism …

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Aug 31 2007

The history of western atheism-3: The first published atheist

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) In his BBC4 TV series A Rough History of Atheism Jonathan Miller awards the honor of being the first published atheist to France’s Paul Henri Thiery, Baron D’Holbach (1723-1789). As the Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on him says: His most popular book, Système de la nature (1770) (“The …

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Aug 29 2007

The history of western atheism-2: The beginnings of modern atheism

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) may have unwittingly been the trigger for the revival of freethinking during the Enlightenment. Although he always asserted his own fidelity to the teachings of the church, the clarity of his thinking about the mind-body relationship exposed some of the fundamental problems …

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Aug 27 2007

The history of western atheism-1: The ancient origins

In the BBC4 TV program Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, host Jonathan Miller states flatly right at the beginning, “This series is about the disappearance of something – religious faith. . . The history of the growing conviction that god does not exist.” (The full three hour, three-part series can be seen starting at …

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