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Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism (Northwestern University Press, 2019) by Christopher Cameron, an Associate Professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, is a precise and nuanced history of African American secularism from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. This text is writ…
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The Greco-Egyptian syncretistic god Serapis was used by the 3rd century BCE Ptolemaic pharaohs to impose Greek cultural hegemony and consolidate political power. The Alexandrian Serapeum, sometimes referred to as The Great Library of Alexandria’s “daughter library,” may be seen as an archetype for institutions where religion and secular knowledge c…
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In Life without God: An Outsider's Look at Atheism (Cambridge UP, 2023), Rik Peels explores atheism from a new perspective that aims to go beyond the highly polarized debate about arguments for and against God's existence. Since our beliefs about the most important things in life are not usually based on arguments, we should look beyond atheistic a…
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Bookshop.org is an online book retailer that donates more than 80% of its profits to independent bookstores. Launched in 2020, Bookshop.org has already raised more than $27,000,000. In this interview, Andy Hunter, founder and CEO discusses his journey to creating one of the most revolutionary new organizations in the book world. Bookshop has found …
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The statement ‘we live in a secular age’ is open to the obvious challenge that in some parts of the word, religion is a growing force in society. And even in places such as the US, religious activists seem to have growing influence – as the recent US Supreme Court decision about abortion suggests. So, is this actually a secular age? Ryan Cragun is …
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Sharada Sugirtharajah's edited volume Religious and Non-Religious Perspectives on Happiness and Wellbeing (Routledge, 2022) explores the theme of happiness and well-being from religious, spiritual, philosophical, psychological, humanistic, and health perspectives. Taking a non-binary approach, it considers how happiness in particular has been under…
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Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (Routledge, 2022) provides an in-depth ethnographic study of science and religion in the context of South Asia, giving voice to Indian scientists and shedding valuable light on their engagement with religion. Drawing on biographical, autobiographical, historical, and ethnographic material, the vo…
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We NEED to respond to Mandisa and the BN affiliates response (non-response). Mandisa always talks about hating hypocrites and she is the biggest hypocrite of them all. I guess accountability and responsibility are for everyone but her. I couldn't make this up if I wanted to. They (Mandisa Lateefah Thomas and the BN Affiliates) are basically gasligh…
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“There is always an atheism to be extracted from a religion,” Deleuze and Guattari write in their final collaboration, What Is Philosophy? Their claim that Christianity “secretes” atheism “more than any other religion,” however, reflects the limits of their archive. Theological projects seeking to engage Deleuze remain embedded within Christian the…
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Ever since 1492, when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the New World and was hailed as a heavenly being, the accidental god has haunted the modern age. From Haile Selassie, acclaimed as the Living God in Jamaica, to Britain's Prince Philip, who became the unlikely center of a new religion on a South Pacific island, men made divine—nearly alway…
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Why is religion today so often associated with giving and taking offense? To answer this question, Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India (U Chicago Press, 2023) invites us to consider how colonial infrastructures shaped our globalized world. Through the origin and afterlives of a 1927 British imperial law (Sect…
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Two new books on secularism and atheism in German and Soviet socialist cultures are reshaping scholarly understandings of the relationship between socialism and religion. Todd Weir and Victoria Smolkin show that socialist secularism and atheism were not concerned solely with destroying a tool of class oppression, as Marx had envisioned, but with cr…
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Empire and Progress in the Victorian Secularist Movement: Imagining a Secular World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) by Dr. Patrick Corbeil is the first extensive historical analysis of the relationship between empire and the Victorian secularist movement. Historians have paid little attention to the role of empire in the development of organized free th…
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Religious Literacy has become a popular concept for navigating religious diversity in public life. In The Politics of Religious Literacy: Education and Emotion in a Secular Age (Brill, 2022), Justine Ellis challenges commonly held understandings of religious literacy as an inclusive framework for engaging with religion in modern, multifaith democra…
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Not all atheists are New Atheists, but thanks in large part to the prominence and influence of New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, New Atheism has claimed the pulpit of secularity in Western society. New Atheists have given voice to marginalized nonreligious individuals and underscored the imp…
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Derek Parfit (1942-2017) is the most famous philosopher most people have never heard of. Widely regarded as one of the greatest moral thinkers of the past hundred years, Parfit was anything but a public intellectual. Yet his ideas have shaped the way philosophers think about things that affect us all: equality, altruism, what we owe to future gener…
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Please join Raina and Kim, Saturday, April 8, 2023 @ 1pm CDT, as they discuss religiosity and the mass incarceration system. Why isn't the secular community addressing these very real issues? https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/12/523603112/alabama-senate-says-church-can-start-its-own-police-force https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/st…
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The United States is in the midst of a religious revolution. Or, perhaps it is better to say a non-religious revolution. Around a quarter of US adults now say they have no religion. The great majority of these religious “nones” also say that they used to belong to a religion but no longer do. These are the nonverts: think “converts,” but from havin…
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The Varieties of Atheism: Connecting Religion and Its Critics (University of Chicago Press, 2022), edited by Professor David Newheiser reveals the diverse nonreligious experiences obscured by the combative intellectualism of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. In fact, contributors contend that narrowly defining atheism as the be…
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What is religious liberty, anyway? What are its origins? What are religious exemptions? What would a jurisprudence of religious liberty based on the idea of natural rights look like? What is distinctive about such an approach and what are some of its pluses and minuses? These are some of the questions addressed in Religious Liberty and the American…
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The decline of organized religion in the West has opened up new paths for individuals to pursue what once was once understood to be salvation. Guests Craig Calhoun, President of the Berggruen Institute and author of Rethinking Secularism Sean Kelly, Professor of Philosophy of Harvard University and author of All Things Shining Angie Thurston, fello…
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Anthropological theory can radically transform our understanding of human experience and offer theologians an introduction to the interdisciplinary nature between anthropology and Christianity. Both sociocultural anthropology and theology have made fundamental contributions to our understanding of human experience and the place of humanity in the w…
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In Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin (Duke UP, 2022), Donovan O. Schaefer challenges the conventional wisdom that feeling and thinking are separate. Drawing on science studies, philosophy, affect theory, secularism studies, psychology, and contemporary literary criticism, Schaefer reconceptualizes rationality as defined b…
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David Newheiser is a senior research fellow in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at Australian Catholic University. He is the author of Hope in a Secular Age: Deconstruction, Negative Theology, and the Future of Faith. The Varieties of Atheism: Connecting Religion and Its Critics (U Chicago Press, 2022) reveals the diverse nonreligiou…
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Atheism in Five Minutes, by Professor Teemu Taira, is part of Equinox Publishing’s “Religion in 5 Minutes” series. It offers insights into a number of commonly held questions about the ideas, practices, and attitudes concerning atheism and atheists. The volume highlights approaches based on the study of religion, sociology, history, anthropology, p…
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Through extensive use of primary resources and fieldwork, Karli Shimizu's book Overseas Shinto Shrines: Religion, Secularity and the Japanese Empire (Bloomsbury, 2022) examines overseas Shinto shrines and their complex role in the colonization and modernization of newly Japanese lands and subjects. Shinto shrines became one of the most visible symb…
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Given the popularity and success of the Hindu-Right in India’s electoral politics today, how may one study ostensibly ‘Western’ concepts and ideas, such as the secular and its family of cognates, like secularism, secularisation and secularity in non-Western societies without assuming them simply as derivative, or colonial legacies or contrast cases…
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Amanda Furiasse received her PhD in Religion and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from Florida State University in 2018. Her research unfolds at the convergence of religion, health, and technology and explores how African communities use religious ritual as a mechanism to heal from violence and trauma. She is Co-Founder and Curator at the Rel…
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The issue of how science and religion relate to one another has been a major controversy of our age. It helped fuel the rise of the New Atheist movement in the early 21st century for example. It has also been a major area of contention within the growing field known as "Big History" that seeks the scientific study of the history of the entire unive…
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rom the perspective of Protestant America, nineteenth-century Mormons were the victims of a peculiar zealotry, a population deranged––socially, sexually, even racially––by the extravagances of belief they called “religion.” Make Yourselves Gods: Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism (U Chicago Press, 2019), by Dr. Peter Coviell…
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For much of America’s rapidly growing secular population, religion is an inescapable source of skepticism and discomfort. It shows up in politics and in holidays, but also in common events like weddings and funerals. In The Secular Paradox: On the Religiosity of the Not Religious (NYU Press, 2022), Joseph Blankholm argues that, despite their desire…
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In Positive Atheism: Bayle, Meslier, d’Holbach, Diderot (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), Dr. Charles Devellennes looks at the religious, social, and political thought of the first four thinkers of the French Enlightenment: Pierre Bayle, Jean Meslier, Paul-Henri Thiry d’Holbach and Denis Diderot to explicitly argue for atheism as a positive philo…
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In this thought provoking book entitled PostSecular History:Political Theology and The Politics of Time (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), Max Kennel explores how contemporary approaches to the meaning of time and history follow patterns that are simultaneously political and theological. Even after postsecular critiques of Christianity, religion, and secu…
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What is the evolutionary purpose of religion, and are some individuals more inclined than others to be religious? Our species diverged from the great apes six to eight million years ago. Since then, our propensity toward spiritual thinking and ritual emerged. How, when, and why did this occur, and how did the earliest, informal shamanic practices e…
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In Representing Magic in Modern Ireland: Belief, History, Culture (Cambridge UP, 2022), Andrew Sneddon argues that Ireland did not experience a disenchanted modernity, nor a decline in magic. It suggests that beliefs, practices and traditions concerning witchcraft and magic developed and adapted to modernity to retain cultural currency until the en…
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Debates about science and religion are rarely out of the news. Whether it concerns what's being taught in schools, clashes between religious values and medical recommendations, or questions about how to address our changing global environment, emotions often run high and answers seem intractable. Yet there is much more to science and religion than …
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In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson distilled a leading idea in the early American republic and wrote of a wall of separation between church and state. That metaphor has come down from Jefferson to 21st-century Americans through a long history of jurisprudence, political contestation, and cultural influence. Separating Church and State: A History (…
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Inventing Secularism: The Radical Life of George Jacob Holyoake (McFarland, 2021), by Ray Argyle is the first modern biography of the founder of Secularism, describing a transformative figure whose controversial and conflict-filled life helped shape the modern world. Jailed for atheism and disowned by his family, Holyoake came out of an English pri…
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The return to religion has arguably become the dominant theme of contemporary culture. Somehow, the secular age seems to have been replaced by a new era where political action flows directly from theological, indeed cosmic, conflict. The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology (Verso, 2014) lays out the philosophical and political…
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In God’s Image: The Making of the Modern World (Yediot Aharonot, 2021) examines the central role that the biblical idea of the “image of God” has played in the development of Western civilization. Focusing on five themes—selfhood, freedom, conscience, equality, and meaning—this book guides the reader through a cultural history of the Judeo-Christia…
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In Owning the Secular: Religious Symbols, Culture Wars, Western Fragility (Routledge, 2021), Matt Sheedy, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Bonn, Germany, examines three case studies dealing with religious symbols and cultural identity. Drawing on theories of discourse analysis and ideology critique, this study calls attention to an…
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The story of the “conflict thesis” between science and religion—the notion of perennial conflict or warfare between the two—is part of our modern self-understanding. As the story goes, John William Draper (1811–1882) and Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) constructed dramatic narratives in the nineteenth century that cast religion as the relentless e…
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In Childhood, Religion, and School Injustice (Cork University Press, 2020), Dr. Karl Kitching examines how debates about religion and education internationally often presume the neutrality of secular education governance as an irrefutable public good. However, understandings of secular freedom, rights and neutrality in schooling are continuously co…
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France, officially, is a secular nation. Yet Catholicism is undeniably a monumental presence, defining the temporal and spatial rhythms of Paris. At the same time, it often fades into the background as nothing more than “heritage.” In a creative inversion, Elayne Oliphant asks in The Privilege of Being Banal what, exactly, is hiding in plain sight?…
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A timely essay collection on the development and influence of secular expressions of Buddhism in the West and beyond. How do secular values impact Buddhism in the modern world? What versions of Buddhism are being transmitted to the West? Is it possible to know whether an interpretation of the Buddha’s words is correct? In this new essay collection,…
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In the practising life, choices must be made. Those choices occur at all levels from big picture views of the world, a whole life, and society, to the everyday choice of how to be in the world, how to act, and what to commit to. In this three part series on Secular Buddhism, we find figures who have made a specific choice to stick with Buddhism and…
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In his new book, The Church of Saint Thomas Paine: A Religious History of American Secularism (Princeton University Press, 2021), Dr. Leigh Eric Schmidt tells the surprising story of how freethinking liberals in 19th-century America promoted a secular religion of humanity centered on the deistic revolutionary Thomas Paine and how their descendants …
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Today I speak to Stephen Batchelor, figurehead for Secular Buddhism, well known author, and Scot. I present the lovely man some of the critique aimed at his work in the book Secularizing Buddhism, and from my previous interview with Richard K. Payne. We also discuss some of his intellectual influences, touch on phenomenology, Gianni Vattimo, and wh…
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