Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists

By S. T. Joshi | Go to book overview

Kai Nielsen

Béla Szabados and Andrew Lugg


LET US BE HUMAN

An influential philosopher of many hats and a steadfast man of the Left, Kai Nielsen (born 1926) is the author of more than twenty-five books and four hundred articles on contemporary ethical and political theory, philosophy of religion, metaphilosophy, epistemology, and Marxism. He helped found the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, is past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association, and is currently a member of the Royal Society of Canada, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary, and adjunct professor at Concordia University in Montreal. Despite these heavy medals of honor, however, he remains as intellectually nimble as ever and continues to shed light in the dark and not so dark corners of philosophical and political thought, especially on specific questions of social policy and general questions of reason and rationality.

In the last five decades Nielsen has written copiously and regularly on religion and religious belief. He has hovered over what he takes to be the rubble and the ashes of our religious culture, rescuing whatever moral precepts he judges valuable and discarding what he sees as deadwood, especially ideas about God and his doings. But unlike philosophers who mourn the loss of our religious heritage, he is happy to see it go. He thinks it should wither away, all religion being, to his way of thinking, riddled with incoherent metaphysical commitments and responsible for untold harm. In Atheism and Philosophy he stated his position in characteristically strong terms. He wrote, “There are no good intellectual grounds for believing in God. And there is no human need, let alone necessity, for a non-evasive and informed person [nowadays] to have religious commitments of any kind” (78).

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Icons of Unbelief: Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1
  • Charles Bradlaugh 9
  • Richard Dawkins 27
  • Daniel C. Dennett 39
  • John Dewey 51
  • Albert Einstein 67
  • The Existentialists 79
  • The Founding Fathers 97
  • Sigmund Freud 125
  • Sam Harris 141
  • Thomas Henry Huxley 153
  • Robert G. Ingersoll 175
  • Paul Kurtz 193
  • Corliss Lamont 211
  • H. P. Lovecraft 223
  • H. L. Mencken 241
  • John Stuart Mill 261
  • Kai Nielsen 279
  • Friedrich Nietzsche 297
  • Madalyn Murray O’Hair 319
  • The Philosophes 335
  • Bertrand Russell 357
  • Carl Sagan 379
  • Leslie Stephen 389
  • Mark Twain 401
  • Gore Vidal 415
  • Voltaire 427
  • General Bibliography 443
  • About the Contributors 449
  • Index 455
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