Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

Synopsis

In the opinion of many critics and philosophers, we are entering an age of atheism marked by the waning of Christian fundamentalism and the flourishing of secular thought. Through alphabetically arranged entries written by expert contributors, this book profiles 27 iconic figures of unbelief whose ideas have shaped American society over the last 200 years. Included are entries on influential figures of the past, such as Albert Einstein and Voltaire, as well as on such contemporary figures as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Each entry discusses the ideas and lasting significance of each person or group, provides sidebars of interesting information and illuminating quotations, and cites works for further reading. The volume closes with a selected, general bibliography. Students in social studies and history classes will welcome this reference as a guide to the ideas central to the American separation of Church and State and to many of the political debates at the heart of society today.

Excerpt

Worshipped and cursed. Loved and loathed. Obsessed about the world over. What does it take to become an icon? Regardless of subject, culture, or era, the requisite qualifications are the same: (1) challenge the status quo, (2) influence millions, and (3) impact history.

Using these criteria, Greenwood Press introduces a new reference format and approach to popular culture. Spanning a wide range of subjects, volumes in the Greenwood Icons series provide students and general readers a port of entry into the most fascinating and influential topics of the day. Every title offers an in-depth look at approximately 24 iconic figures, each of which captures the essence of a broad subject. These icons typically embody a group of values, elicit strong reactions, reflect the essence of a particular time and place, and link different traditions and periods. Among those featured are artists and activists, superheroes and spies, inventors and athletes, the legends and mythmakers of entire generations. Yet icons can also come from unexpected places: the heroine who transcends the pages of a novel or the revolutionary idea that shatters our previously held beliefs. Whether people, places, or things, such icons serve as a bridge between the past and the present, the canonical and the contemporary. By focusing on icons central to popular culture, this series encourages students to appreciate cultural diversity and critically analyze issues of enduring significance.

Most important, these books are as entertaining as they are provocative. Is Disneyland a more influential icon of the American West than Las Vegas? How do ghosts and ghouls reflect our collective psyche? Is Barry Bonds an inspiring or deplorable icon of baseball?

Designed to foster debate, the series serves as a unique resource that is ideal for paper writing or report purposes. Insightful, in-depth entries provide far more information than conventional reference articles but are less intimidating and more accessible than a book-length biography. The most revered and reviled icons of American and world history are brought to life with related . . .

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