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.
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
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