To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The Scientific Revolution is conveniently dated from 1543, when the Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus published his De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), in which he argued that the Earth goes around the Sun rather than the Sun around the Earth – the “heliocentric” picture of the universe from the “geocentric” picture of the universe (Kuhn 1957). It is as conveniently dated to 1687, when the English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) which, thanks to his three laws of motion and his law of gravitational attraction, gave the all-important causal explanation to what the Revolution had wrought (Westfall 1971, 1980)
One of us, Stephen Bullivant, wrote the Introduction to this collection, so it seemed like a good idea to have the other, Michael Ruse, write a short, de facto Epilogue. Ruse is a philosopher and so what he has to say rather reflects his field of scholarship. In particular, in looking at such a project as this, a large collection of essays on the history of atheism – probably the most exhausting project that either of us will engage in during our whole academic careers, but also one of the most exhilarating and important – Ruse’s inclination is to turn to Immanuel Kant for guidance.
Atheism in the early twenty-first century is a much-discussed topic. From New Atheism’s explosion onto bestseller lists and bus sides in the mid-years of the “noughties,” to ongoing human-rights abuses both of non-believers in some highly religious countries and of religious believers by officially atheistic ones, to a steady stream of surveys showing the rapid rise of non-religiosity in parts of the world, to – well – a great deal else besides, the topic is often in the media, and thus the public eye. This is not, in itself, a new phenomenon. Particular issues, campaigns, movements, philosophies, and people, relating to atheism in various ways, might come and go. But they have been coming and going for an awfully long time, and in a very wide spread of cultures and contexts. Atheism was “a much-discussed topic” in fourth-century BC Athens, second-century AD Asia Minor, eleventh-century France, thirteenth-century India, seventeenth-century England, and nineteenth-century South Africa.
The two-volume Cambridge History of Atheism offers an authoritative and up to date account of a subject of contemporary interest. Comprised of sixty essays by an international team of scholars, this History is comprehensive in scope. The essays are written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including religious studies, philosophy, sociology, and classics. Offering a global overview of the subject, from antiquity to the present, the volumes examine the phenomenon of unbelief in the context of Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish societies. They explore atheism and the early modern Scientific Revolution, as well as the development of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and its continuing implications. The History also includes general survey essays on the impact of scepticism, agnosticism and atheism, as well as contemporary assessments of thinking. Providing essential information on the nature and history of atheism, The Cambridge History of Atheism will be indispensable for both scholarship and teaching, at all levels.
Are humans superior to all other animals? People of religion – Christianity and Buddhism – say yes. People of science – those for and those against Darwinian evolutionary theory – say yes. People of philosophy – the existentialists in particular –say yes. Why? People of religion think it is God’s intention (Christians) or simply the way the world is (Buddhists). People of science, both those for and those against Darwin, think it is simply a fact of nature. People of philosophy, existentialists, argue that meaning must come from within. Are humans superior? That is for us to decide and demonstrate. Natural (science) and unnatural (religion) facts tell us nothing.