Imagine There's No Heaven How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2/25/2014
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
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The historical achievements of religious belief have been large and well chronicled. But what about the accomplishments of those who have challenged religion? Traveling from classical Greece to twenty-first century America, Imagine There's No Heaven explores the role of disbelief in shaping Western civilization. At each juncture common themes emerge: by questioning the role of gods in the heavens or the role of a God in creating man on earth, nonbelievers help move science forward. By challenging the divine right of monarchs and the strictures of holy books, nonbelievers, including Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot, help expand human liberties, and influence the early founding of the United States. Revolutions in science, in politics, in philosophy, in art, and in psychology have been led, on multiple occasions, by those who are free of the constraints of religious life. Mitchell Stephens tells the often-courageous tales of history's most important atheists— like Denis Diderot and Salman Rushdie. Stephens makes a strong and original case for their importance not only to today's New Atheist movement but to the way many of us—believers and nonbelievers—now think and live.

Author Biography

Mitchell Stephens is a historian and journalist who has been researching the history of atheism for a decade. A professor of Media Studies at New York University, he has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times, and has appeared on NPR. Stephens is also a member of the working group on Secularism of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University and is on faculty at the “Beyond Belief” program at the Center for Inquiry at the University of Buffalo. He lives in New York City.

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