By David Berman
Probably no doctrine has excited as a lot horror and abuse as atheism. this primary historical past of British atheism, first released in 1987, tries to provide an explanation for this response whereas showing the improvement of atheism from Hobbes to Russell. even supposing avowed atheism seemed strangely overdue – 1782 in Britain – there have been covert atheists within the heart 17th century. through tracing its improvement from so early a date, Dr Berman supplies an account of a tremendous and engaging strand of highbrow history.
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Extra resources for A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell
The tension is fairly close to the surface in Chapter Three, Section XXXIX, where (on p. 134) he states: Besides these philosophical [or speculative] Atheists, whose several forms we have now described, it cannot be doubted, but that there have been in all ages many other Atheists that have not at all philosophized, nor pretended to maintain any particular atheistick system or hypothesis, in a way of reason, but were only led by a certain dull and sottish, though confident disbelief of whatever they could not see or feel: which kind of Atheists may therefore well be accounted enthusiastical or fanatical Atheists.
The latter part of this - beginning with 'because' - might just be construed as a reason or justification for the truth of the former part. Similarly, those who after they have denied the existence of atheists, go on to argue that God evidently exists and that atheism is clearly preposterous, might just be interpreted as providing a reason for their denial. So the Essayist would, on this reading, be justifying his denial of speculative atheism when he shows the absurdity of atheism. But then we should have to say that what he is trying to show is not merely the falseness of atheism and the truth of theism, but the impossibility of believing in atheism.
Their method is analytic and conceptual; whereas Herbert's method tends to be empirical and anthropological. Fotherby, like Wise, emphasises the condition of constancy. But Fotherby and Herbert share a belief in the innateness of the idea of God. This is of some interest in that Bentley and Blackmore take this as the premise from which the denial of atheists is deduced. According to Fotherby, there is 'an inbred perswasion in the hearts of all men, That there is a God' (p. 15). And for Herbert all common notions are innate.
A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell by David Berman