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2000 Years of Disbelief Hardcover – June 1, 1996
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Chapters present short biographical introductions to a number of famous philosophers, literary figures, historians, politicians, and artists (e.g., Locke, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Jefferson, Bertrand Russell), focusing more on their detractors and the problems these individuals encountered as a result of their disbelief rather than articulating their views and placing them in their historical context. A black-and-white portrait is provided for each person. The biographical sketch is followed by a selection of quotations from the person. However, passages from an individual's writings, taken in isolation and, thus, out of context, cannot give an accurate account of the person's thought on a subject. Haught also fails to supply complete bibliographic information for the works from which the quotations are drawn. A far better source is The Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Prometheus, 1986). While sharing the same doubts about religious belief as Haught's work, it nevertheless remains both balanced and scholarly in its presentation.
In discussing the advance of Western civilization, Haught claims, "Much of the progress was impelled by men and women who didn't pray, didn't kneel at altars, didn't make pilgrimages, didn't recite creeds." His view, with its implicit disdain for people of faith, ignores the role religion has played in the development of the positive aspects of Western culture. Haught could have authored a work that presented the contributions of the nonreligious to the Western intellectual tradition. This work is vitriol, masquerading as a collection of antireligious quotations. Not recommended.
Top Customer Reviews
It is a good collection but it is somewhat light in explaining the ideas of the philosophers or the general conditions in their times that lead to their doubt or disbelief. About two thirds of the book consists of the quotations. More detailed information about the lives and ideas of the philosophers would have been nice.
Among some of the quotations that I like:
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one. - Voltaire
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. - Thomas Jefferson
Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life, except religion. - Christopher Hitchens
If the philosophers were to form a government, the people, after 150 years, would forgo some new superstition, and would either pray to little idols, or to the graves in which the great men were buried, or invoke the sun, or commit some similar nonsense. Superstition is the weakness of the human mind, which is inseparably tied to it; it has always existed, and always will. - Frederich the Great
Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. Pray: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy.Read more ›
Even theists that have the slightest bit of doubt will enjoy this book, perhaps unwittingly. There are some great minds listed throughout such as: Voltaire, Copernicus, Magellan, Einstein, Freud, Mark Twain, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Darwin, Ayn Rand, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, and lots more.
Also littered throughout the book are various snippets of historic events, such as atheists who were murdered for their beliefs. Makes one realize how serious people were and are about their pet mythologies.
This book is a must have for the atheist seeking some fun arguments by authority or for the theist who is impressed by such. In any event, it is VERY insightful!
Dan The Burke
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book arrived in great shape. Haven't read most of it, seeing as it is just a reference book for one of my classes, but so far I am enjoying it!Published 6 months ago by Brendan Conard
I very fine compilation of the many brilliant skeptics, agnostics, freethinkers and atheists who considered religion as practiced a deformity. Their quotes speak for them.Published 17 months ago by Robert
The book briefly details 100, or so, people who question/ed the existence of God. Al Gore, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, Beethoven, George Washington, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison,... Read morePublished on June 6, 2011 by D. Mullane
A very important topic and an excellent presentation of this important and relevant history. Well done. Read morePublished on February 14, 2010 by B. Stone
I bought this for having a source of well known intellects' opinions on the existence of a God, Humanism, Agnosticism, Atheism. Read morePublished on December 1, 2009 by Richard Carter Schwertle
I have enjoyed reading through this and connecting with some great minds through out history.
I have picked up a copyer here on Amazone and a few at local book stores and the... Read more