Even Atheists in the 19th Century Couldn’t Agree On Which Word Best Described Them

Any book of the treatment of atheists throughout American history is bound to be extremely pessimistic. We were considered heretics then and we’re considered heretics now, though that’s slowly changing. But it’s worth revisiting that history just to understand how tough it was for the “New Atheists” of their time.

Washington University in St. Louis professor Leigh Eric Schmidt has looked at that history through the eyes of four outspoken critics of religion from more than a century ago, and he writes about them in a new book called Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (Princeton University Press, 2016).


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Podcast Ep. 129: Dr. Leigh Eric Schmidt, Author of Village Atheists

Our latest podcast guest is Dr. Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation.

Dr. Schmidt is the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics in 2011. He previously taught at Harvard and Princeton. He has appeared in and on all kinds of media to talk about his work and he’s the author of several books.

We spoke with him about whether we were ever a “Christian nation,” why the “New Atheists” really aren’t new at all, what we can learn from a cartoonist who lived a century ago.


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As a Girl, She Didn’t Experience the Paranormal; The Same Reasoning Helped Her Leave Christianity

For all the progress feminists have made worldwide over the past century, and despite the religious criticism we’ve heard more recently, women are still uniquely affected by bad beliefs. They’re told to be subservient, or to cover their entire bodies, or that they can’t receive a formal education, etc.

Dr. Karen Garst has now published a book compiling the stories of 22 women who shed their faith and want to tell you how it happened. It’s called Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion (Pitchstone Publishing, 2016).


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Atheists Reflect on the Impact of The God Delusion Ten Years After Its Release

It was 10 years ago today when Richard Dawkins‘ book The God Delusion was first published in the UK. The book went on to sell more than 3 million copies and, anecdotally, led countless people away from the religions of their youth. In fact, you could argue that The God Delusion has created more atheists than any other book in history… with the sole exception being the Bible.

I asked a number of atheist authors and organizational leaders for their thoughts on the book’s legacy, and this is what they said.


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Dr. Richard Carrier’s New Book Explores Science Education in the Early Roman Empire

As any regular reader of this site knows, I don’t post much about ancient history. That’s partly because it doesn’t always affect the issues I write about, and partly because I fall asleep about two words into any lecture or discussion about it.

But Dr. Richard Carrier loves this stuff and he’s written a book called Science Education in the Early Roman Empire (Pitchstone Publishing, 2016). So if the intersection of those two worlds excites you, well, this one’s for you.


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