S.T. Joshi profiles 14 notable agnostics and atheists from the 19th and 20th centuries. He is up front about the fact that he’s not trying to be encyclopedic and has chosen his subjects based on whether he “shares an intellectual sympathy with them.” They are, by and large, a fascinating bunch, including Thomas Huxley, who first coined the term “agnosticism” in 1876; writer and curmudgeon Mark Twain; “America’s greatest lawyer,” Clarence Darrow; journalist H.L. Mencken ; and horror writer and “patron saint of atheism” H.P. Lovecraft. The lone woman, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who took the fight to eliminate mandatory prayer in schools to the Supreme Court in 1963, “has always been a bit of an embarrassment to the atheist community,” Joshi writes. “The Unbelievers” concludes with a look at the “new atheists”: Sam Harris (Joshi is not a fan), Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Joshi has no patience for the religious.
“Such individuals,” he writes, “are free to think secretly that I am consigned to hell, just as I am free to feel silent contempt for their own irrationality and desperation.” And while he claims that the battle is over and atheism has won, in the end “we may have to be satisfied with the peculiar dichotomy of an atheistic intellectual class, a wider class of the weakly religious, and an underclass of fundamentalists.” Since 93 percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, that’s a pretty large underclass. In general, this book will be best received by those who share Joshi’s — excuse the term — faith in that future. (Source: The Washington Post Book World)
Editor of the Library of America volume of pulp-sf master H. P. Lovecraft’s work, Joshi is ardently atheist. Less stylistically idiosyncratic than Lovecraft, he is as readable. If he doesn’t deliver the evolutionary account of modern atheism the subtitle promises, he introduces 14 hard-core religious skeptics sympathetically and literately. He praises all, but dissects the shortcomings of not only uncouth Madalyn Murray O’Hare, who got prayer out of America’s public schools (and wrote so badly that Joshi’s prose degenerates writing about her), but also august T. H. Huxley and Bertrand Russell. Others discussed are Leslie Stephen, J. S. Mill, Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Clarence Darrow, H. L. Mencken, Lovecraft, Gore Vidal, and best-selling contemporary God-scoffers Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. More temperate than most of his subjects (though his observations about Voltaire and Whittaker Chambers are, respectively, unconvincing and false), Joshi shares with them the canard that failing to find a physical God disproves his existence. Philosophically informed theists will hardly agree, but even they will enjoy and learn from his presentation. –Ray Olson, Booklist
“In this important, incisive work S.T. Joshi paints sympathetic yet critical portraits of fourteen representative nontheists of the past century and a half, particularly those who have been outspoken in their opposition to conservative religious traditions and ideas. The Unbelievers nicely complements the magisterial 2008 Joshi-edited Icons of Unbelief. This new and original book merits a wide audience.” –Edd Doerr, president, Americans for Religious Liberty, past president, American Humanist Association
“Only someone with a superficial interest in atheism will be satisfied with a vague and nebular treatment of the subject, but renowned author S.T. Joshi is anything but superficial. He knows, and here demonstrates, that there are many atheisms, not one, and that each covers different grounds. One might almost say each rejects a different God! And Joshi’s deft, detailed analyses of Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, H.P. Lovecraft, Friedrich Nietzsche, and fully eight others sets forth the distinctives of each notorious unbeliever in much the same way analogous guidebooks have enabled readers on the other side of the coin to grasp the nuances of the range of theologians. I am grateful for this book!” –Robert M. Price, professor of theology and scriptural studies, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary; professor of Biblical criticism, Center for Inquiry Institut
by Lorelei Bell
Sabrina Strong is a Touch Clairvoyant who knows a secret. She knows her mother was turned into a vampire when Sabrina was ten. Now that she is grown up, a powerful magnate in the Chicago business world hires her to reveal the identity of who relentlessly murders vampires in his ultra-modern stronghold of a hotel.
Vampire Ascending is now available at Amazon.Com, Barnes & Noble, the publisher’s website, and any other good bookstore.
For more information on Lorelei Bell see her section on this website.