Atheism: A Reader is a unique anthology that presents for the first time a comprehensive selection of writings on atheism, agnosticism, and skepticism by some of the world’s most celebrated thinkers, past and present. Arranged thematically, the essays in this valuable collection cover many of the significant areas in which atheists have questioned religious orthodoxy. The authors eloquently address the most significant questions concerning religious belief: Is belief in God justified? Is religion necessary to live a moral life? What is the role of religion in the political arena? Should religion be taught in schools? How harmful has religion been in the suppression of women’s rights, the subversion of clear thinking, and the advancement of science?
Included are essays by Bertrand Russell and A.J. Ayer on the existence of God; Percy Bysshe Shelley on the “argument from design”; John Stuart Mill and Antony Flew on immortality and life after death; David Hume and George Eliot on the dangers of fanaticism, superstition, and religious fundamentalism; Charles Darwin on how his scientific studies led him to discard his religious beliefs; H.L. Mencken on the 1925 Scopes trial; Carl Sagan on demons and the persecution of witches; Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Christianity’s demeaning influence on women’s social status; Robert Ingersoll on God and the constitution; Gore Vidal on modern American fundamentalism; and many other notable writers on controversial issues.