In this wide-ranging collection of articles, essays, and speeches, George H. Smith analyzes atheism and its relevance to society today.
The featured essay in this volume provides a full analysis of Ayn Rand’s unique contribution to atheism, explaining how her objectivist metaphysics and laissez-faire economic principles rested on a purely godless worldview. Several chapters address the evolution of atheism; arguments in favor of religious toleration; the efforts of early Church fathers to discredit Roman polytheism and how these arguments can be used with equal force against later Christian descriptions of God; and a survey of the contributions to freethought made by the deists of the 18th and 19th centuries.
With incisive logic and considerable wit, Smith ties atheism to reason and argues that reason itself can be a moral virtue. In one penetrating chapter, Smith salutes three Christian theorists who he believes embody the spirit of reason: Thomas Aquinas, Desiderius Erasmus, and John Locke. This is followed by a philosophical drubbing of his “least favorite Christians” – St. Paul, St. Augustine, and John Calvin. In subsequent chapters, Smith examines religion and education; addresses the 20th century fundamentalist revival; offers suggestions on how to debate atheism with religious believers; critiques “new religions,” including pop therapy, est, and tranactional analysis; and provides a comprehensive bibliographic essay on the literature of freethought.