Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 September 2021
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.
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