New book - 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists

Maryam Namazie alerts us to a new book - 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists
from Maryam Namazie's blog

Recent religious and philosophical debate from self-proclaimed “atheists” has
challenged the ethical, scientific, and political implications behind belief and
non-belief, and the potential damage that can be done in the crusade to promote a certain brand of faith. A handful of spokespeople have appeared on the mount in defense of their non-belief, including authors Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Christopher Hitchens (God is Not Great), and television host Bill Maher with his film Religulous.

The authors of this collection of original essays 50 VOICES OF DISBELIEF: Why We
Are Atheists
(Wiley-Blackwell, October 2009) come together from varied professions and perspectives to broaden the debate even further and present carefully considered statements on the nuances of personal belief. At this intersection is the overall consensus that religion cannot explain all, or offer a solution to all people, and that science and personal responsibility must play a central role in this discovery

The contributors do not simply defensively react to the bullying tactics from the religious camp with dogmatic and similar conversion-based tactics, but plainly state their case, revealing an essentially humanist philosophy. They effectively defend their right to proudly practice outside the sphere of organised faith and continue to question the authority presented by these long-standing faith-based institutions.

The internationally-based contributors work in the fields of science, academia,
literature, media, and politics and include Julian Baggini (Atheist, Obviously), Susan Blackmore (Giving Up Ghosts and Gods), A.C. Grayling (Why I Am Not a Believer), Joe Haldeman (Atheist Out of the Foxhole), Maryam Namazie (When the Hezbollah came to my school), Peter Tatchell (My Nonreligious Life: A Journey from Superstition to Rationalism), and Peter Singer (Why Morality Doesn’t Need Religion).

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists can be purchased here.

• October 2009 [UK] • November 2009 [U.S.] • Philosophy of Religion • Hardcover: 1-4051-9045-9, $89.95; £55 • Paperback: 1-4051-9046-6, $29.95; £16.99 • 360 pp.


  1. I suggest the designation, non-theist, so as to not dignify an irrational thought system championed,in my family, by the resident Jesuits,with an implied validation of their rationality. Having wasted many hours of my youth debating the issue of "Faith" with Blackrobes, I encourage any others, whose intellect I respect, to not waste their time in a similar fashion. Since the existence of a creator diety can neither be proved nor disproved by logic, any diety that they(the Blackrobes) may posit to exist that is worthy of note would hardly expect intelligent creatures to accept its existence or to sacrifice their individual freedom to a blind belief,and so would not expect belief!

  2. Agreed, a Dhomnaill. But I doubt if any Jesuits or otherwise today will long be able, given the decline of the clerisy in the West, to defend their creed much longer. The Jebbies may well have by now agreed to disagree, and to let us lukewarm doubters and fiery naysayers alone! Out of such hard-won tolerance should we also allow, if contrary to Dawkins' chiding, the freedom of belief for those less fanatical in their creeds? I suspect that the earnest rationalists will find little dramatic advance, for many people need, as the last thread started by AM below documents in its comments, the support of beliefs, however risible or romantic. Without them, life can be hard to endure. Many grow out of faith but many also turn back to it; life can surprise and shock us either way. I'd like to see with today's resurgent neo-atheists more of the same tolerance that they expect from believers. This often is not the case: see the straw men set up in Bill Maher's "Religulous," or in Dawkins and Hitchens's critiques.

    As AM reminded us, the deity indeed can neither be proven nor disproven. But, for many mere mortals, contrary to Dawkins' hope, I am not sure contemplating the wonders of nature in the stars will lead to the same illusory or enduring peace, for in nature we also find cancer cells and famine. I think it will be a long time, longer than the reign of the Jesuits, before people can let go of God or gods. We need to accept this necessity for many of those around us, and not to ridicule it. We can understand it, without mocking it or those who do believe, often in our own families.

  3. Surely how people behave is more important than their professed beliefs. What a person draws from their own faith and expresses in the world can be immensely enriching for everyone regardless. I am not a believer in anything but will prefer to witness the compassion/passion, intelligent righteousness and bravery of Martin Luther King over any rationalist boring academic. Desmond Tutu as well, another inspiration and hope for humankind.

    Give me the full on gospel inspired rock n’ roll of Little Richard with all his conflict about serving the lord or ‘playing the devil’s music’ - not being able to resolve the dilemma of being preacher or rock n’ roll screecher and the ensuing fire! Or the soul of Marvin Gaye trying to make sense of America/the world in the late 60s, early 70s believing his creative expression was God’s will.

    I will be rational crossing the road, shopping etc, but I am happy to be irrational/illogical when I am trying to be creative.

    It is right for non believers to refuse to be forced to accept the specific rules of any faith they have not signed up to. But I distrust anyone who tries to formally argue atheism as well. Sometimes it appears to come from a perspective of intellectual arrogance, the desire to feel superior/special and the one with the answers (power) just as a fundamentalist would. Some rationalists may just be trying to clear the altar for their own God-like egos to take up position! Not a criticism of AM but some of the names listed on ‘…50 voices…’

  4. I'd say in the big scheme of things that all human conscience, whether religious or materialistic, is probably a very limited tool in getting to grips about what the bloody hell we are doing here, and are we here at all, and were we here, and will we be here after we're not here. Science and materialism are probably just one step ahead of religion in my book, but nothing to be bragging about either.

  5. 'consciousness' I meant! Conscience is a different contraption altogether....

  6. Sean Mor, what fine wit you exhibit!
    All- Suggest you Google, Ethical Individualism.
    Fionnchu, Very excellent logic! To move from religious intolerance to Scientific intolerance,is no move at all. You've had as close contact with the SJ as I no doubt.

  7. Just got to these. Interesting comments all round.

    uilodomhnaill, theist or non-theist it does not really matter. At the end it all boils down to the Russell position 'not enough evidence god'

    Fionnchú, mocking the sacred - religious or secular - is an essential part of enlightenment culture. Religion is nothing more than an opinion that all too often claims for itself a more elevated status. Think back to the Danish anti-theocratic cartoons and reflect on where that would have led without mockery. Opinions when considered daft can always be mocked, secular or religious.

    PM - virtually everyone argues atheism formally or informally. The only issue is what god they argue against. For some it is Thor, for others it is Christ. Full blown atheists add an extra one to the list they argue against.

    Seán Mór, there seems no reason for us being here in terms of purpose. Science seems well ahead of religion on that front.