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Atheism as a Cultural Phenomenon

Paul Adams
The list author says: "Much writing about atheism and religion assumes atheism as the default position, with religion as the phenomenon that needs to be explained. But atheism is by far the rarer phenomenon, something that became widespread in the 19th century, peaked in the second half of the 20th century, and has been declining since. This is a list of books that attempt to understand atheism as a historically specific cultural phenomenon. The authors are philosophers, theologians, and cultural critics rather than sociologists--there is a whole other literature on secularization theory. The books do not debate the truth claims of atheism but represent attempts, mostly by non-atheists, to understand atheism in its historical and cultural specificity. I have reviewed several of these books for Amazon and/or my own blog, http://ethicsculture.blogspot.com."
The Drama of Atheist Humanism
The Drama of Atheist Humanism
"Study by a great 20th century Catholic theologian of Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Comte, and others."
The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World
The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World
"McGrath takes atheism seriously as a social, cultural, and historical phenomenon in its own right. It deserves examination in these terms no less than the religions to which it responds. See my review."
Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
"A brilliant book, though, admittedly, more about the revolutionary nature of Christianity and its cultural-historical impact than about atheism. See my review."
The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse
The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse
"Smith argues that it is not primarily religion but rather the strictures of secular rationalism that have drained our modern discourse of force and authenticity."
A Secular Age
A Secular Age
"As Alasdair MacIntyre says, "Taylor's book is a major and highly original contribution to the debates on secularization that have been ongoing for the past century. There is no book remotely like it.""
The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith
The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith
"Fascinating account by Christopher Hitchens's brother--partly for the historical and cultural context in postwar England in which both boys (and I) grew up.  See my review."
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series)
"Atheists and Christians alike will likely share the assessment of one reviewer that the book is "by turns thought-provoking, infuriating, inspiring and very, very funny.""
A Short History of Secularism
A Short History of Secularism
"Argues that secularism was born of Christianity and that it is impossible to understand the idea of the secular without understanding that, at root, it is Christian."
The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion
The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion
"Fascinating dialogue between German philosopher and neo-marxist Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI."
An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-secular Age
An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-secular Age
"Further development of Habermas's thinking on the relation between secular reason and faith, in debate with Jesuit philosophers."
Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis
Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis
"The book is not a study of atheism as such but a critique of the ways in which secularism, or practical atheism, has become not an alternative to orthodoxy but another orthodoxy of its own."
No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers
No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers
"Addressing, from within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the views and experiences of atheists, Novak sees a kind of common ground in the experience of nothingness (the dark night of the soul) experienced by Catholic mystics."
Cube and the Cathedral
Cube and the Cathedral
"Cultural critique of atheism in its post-Christian form in Europe.  Argues that Europe's turning its back on its Christian heritage is leading to the disappearance there of a vital Western culture."
The Theological Origins of Modernity
The Theological Origins of Modernity
"Like Charles Taylor's 'A Secular Age,' Gillespie's book argues that modern godlessness cannot be understood if its religious roots and components are ignored."