Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Five of the best books on atheism and faith

John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Straw Dogs and Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, he is a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.

Gray's new book is Seven Types of Atheism.

At the Guardian he tagged five of the best books on atheism and faith, including:
Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (1882) was, among other things, an attempt to fashion an atheism that broke not only with religious belief but more importantly with the ways of thinking that monotheism had inculcated. For Nietzsche, modern atheism had been a byproduct of Christianity. Rightly, to my mind, he believed a genuinely free-thinking atheism would begin by questioning the surrogate faiths – in “humanity”, science, progress and so on – that replaced Christianity among those who liked to think they had rejected religion. Modern atheism was not, as its adherents imagined, an alternative to faith, but a way of closing the mind to doubt.

Sadly, but perhaps predictably (he was after all the son of a pastor), Nietzsche went on to produce an ersatz faith of his own in his myth of the Superman, a Christ-like figure that redeems humankind from nihilism – the condition of meaninglessness that supposedly befalls us when we no longer have any idea of God. The free-thinking atheism he originally envisioned remains elusive.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue