A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A History of Atheism in Britain

From Hobbes to Russell, 1st Edition

By David Berman


272 pages

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Probably no doctrine has excited as much horror and abuse as atheism. This first history of British atheism, first published in 1987, tries to explain this reaction while exhibiting the development of atheism from Hobbes to Russell. Although avowed atheism appeared surprisingly late – 1782 in Britain – there were covert atheists in the middle seventeenth century. By tracing its development from so early a date, Dr Berman gives an account of an important and fascinating strand of intellectual history.


Reviews of the original edition:

‘Berman’s careful survey will be a useful reminder of the relative youth of open disbelief in religion.’ TLS

‘a fascinating glimpse into the minds of many people struggling with the God problem…meticulous documentation…a real and significant contribution to the history of British atheism in its formative stages.’ American Rationalist

Table of Contents

Preface 1. The Repression of Atheism 2. Restoration Atheists: Foundling Followers of Hobbes 3. Anthony Collins' Atheology 4. The Suppression of ‘Atheism’ 5. The Birth of Avowed Atheism: 1782-1797 6. Shelley’s Deicide 7. The Struggle of Theoretical Atheism over Practical Atheism 8. The Causes of Atheism 9. The Atheists: 1822-1842 10. Militant and Academic Atheism Epilogue: The Ethics of Unbelief

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Philosophy of Religion

Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1901 and 1991, Routledge Library Editions: Philosophy of Religion offers a selection of outstanding scholarship covering many aspects of philosophical enquiry into belief and faith. Topics include the history of atheism, natural religion, Christian ethics and the human soul. Some books look specifically at philosophers such as Hobbes, Plato, Kant, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard and Pascal. From classic works by Edward Westermarck, John Laird and G.D. Hicks to more recent investigations, this set contains important works by the likes of D.Z. Phillips, Frederick Ferré and A.C. Ewing making it an essential collection of these previously out-of-print works in a key subject.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / Philosophy