Atheism: A Reader

Atheism: A Reader

Atheism: A Reader

Atheism: A Reader

Synopsis

This unique anthology assembles the best writings on atheism, agnosticism, and skepticism by some of the world's great thinkers past and present. Includes essays by Bertrand Russell, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and more.

Excerpt

A VOLUME LIKE THIS SHOULD not be necessary. After at least twenty-five hundred years in which some of the keenest human minds have established the extreme unlikelihood of the major religious tenets—that God exists; that human beings are made in the image of God; that the "soul" is immaterial and immortal; that God is guiding the human race in some particular direction—the great majority of the human populace continues to embrace these views with blind and unthinking tenacity, and even those who claim a more reasoned "faith" are unwilling to abandon them in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Of course, religions have always used the inability of science definitively to disprove the existence of God as an excuse for continued belief, forgetting both that it is just as impossible to prove God's existence. In fact, however, the probable truth or falsity of religious beliefs seems nowadays to matter so little to the pious—or, rather, the truth of religion is regarded as something so incapable of challenge— that it is deemed rather offensive and disreputable even to make the attempt. But in the interests of truth and sanity, the attempt must continually be made.

Let us not be deceived. The overwhelming majority of people on this earth—including most of those 97 percent of the American population who profess belief in God in some form or other—are beyond persuasion on this matter. They are, quite literally, incapable of comprehending the issues at stake. It is not merely that they are unable to . . .

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