By David Berman
Probably no doctrine has excited as a lot horror and abuse as atheism. this primary background of British atheism, first released in 1987, tries to give an explanation for this response whereas showing the advance of atheism from Hobbes to Russell. even if avowed atheism seemed strangely past due – 1782 in Britain – there have been covert atheists within the heart 17th century. by way of tracing its improvement from so early a date, Dr Berman offers an account of an incredible and interesting strand of highbrow history.
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Extra info for A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell
Xxvii). But the converse of this would seem to be that those who do not believe in God are prevented from doing so by some moral defect: they must be practical or mixt atheists. Cudworth's apparent uncertainty as to whether there are speculative atheists recurs in a number of places in his book. 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.
Fofess atheism because they (mistakenly) thought that certain 'famously-learned men' had done so before them. So atheism is not only an 'enormous disease of the soul', but a contagious disease as well. And it is so contagious that one can catch it even from those whom one may mistakenly believe to be suffering from it. More does not say, as Wise does, that the theistic cause would benefit if the famous men were not generally allowed to be atheists. He simply denies that the famous men were atheists, and he leaves it at that.
For him atheism is not speculative; it is either practical or unthinking or both: And verily I think I have ransacked all the corners of every kind of Philosophy that can pretend to bear any stroke in this Controversy with that diligence, that I may safely pronounce, that it is mere brutish IgrwraTl£e or ImputkTl£e, no Skill in Nature, or the Krwwledge of things, that can encourage any man to profess Atheism, or to embrace it at the proposal of those that make profession of it. if [any man] do but search into the bottom of this enormous disease of the Soul, as 'Hismegist truly calls it, he will find nothing to be the cause thereof but either vanity of mind, or brutish sensuality (p.
A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell by David Berman