2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt

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Prometheus Books, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 334 pages
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Intelligent, educated people tend to be critical of the supernatural and the so-called revealed truths of religion. So it is hardly surprising to find a great number of skeptics and unbelievers among our major inventors, scientists, writers, social reformers, and other world changers - people usually termed great. The advance of Western civilization has been partly a story of the gradual victory over religious oppression, and these brilliant doubters were men and women who didn't pray, didn't kneel at altars, didn't make pilgrimages, and didn't recite creeds.
2,000 years of Disbelief is a book of quotes that brings together the words of the "greats" of both East and West, from antiquity to the present. Included in this stirring collection are such renowned skeptics as Epicurus, Voltaire, Arthur Schopenhauer, Mark Twain, and Bertrand Russell. But also represented are many whose skepticism is not so well known, and who are for this reason regarded by churchmen and others as conventional believers. Notable among these are many U.S. presidents. Thus we learn, for example, that George Washington had no belief in Christianity and that Abraham Lincoln never joined a church.
2,000 Years of Disbelief is an anthology not only of outstanding philosophers, scientists, and poets, but also of figures in the arts and entertainment as well as prominent scholars and politicians. Arranged chronologically for ease of reference, with each chapter devoted to a particular figure or period, this witty, insightful collection reveals the extent to which the most renowned people in all areas expressed, both publicly and privately, their courage to doubt, often in the face of great personal risk. A delight to read as well a a valuable sourcebook, 2,000 Years of Disbelief provides a powerful weapon against religious conformists, dogmatists, and others who would roll back the clock on the teaching of evolution and who are working to tear down the wall of separation between church and state.
Others included in this outstanding collection are: Omar Khayyam, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hobbes, Benjamin Franklin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charles Darwin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ayn Rand, Langston Hughes, Steve Allen, Elie Wiesel, Gloria Steinem, Albert Gore, and many others.

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User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

More a work of epigrams than a look at the history of disbelief. Haught has collected sayings dating back to the ancient Greeks, and arranged them roughly in chronological order, though the nature of ... Read full review

Contents

Acknowledgments
9
THE ANCIENTS
17
OMAR KHAYYAM 104871131
23
MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE 15331592
29
OTHER RENAISSANCE FIGURES
37
The European Enlightenment
39
THOMAS HOBBES 15881679
41
BARUCH SPINOZA 16321677
44
WILLIAM JAMES 18421910
171
AMBROSE BIERCE 18421914
173
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE 18441900
177
OTHER FIGURES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
180
The Early Twentieth Century
199
THOMAS ALVA EDISON 18471931
201
LUTHER BURBANK 18491926
204
ELBERT HUBBARD 18561915
208

JOHN LOCKE 16321704
46
BARON DE MONTESQUIEU 16891755
49
VOLTAIRE 16941778
51
DAVID HUME 17111776
56
DENIS DIDEROT 17131784
60
EDWARD GIBBON 17371794
62
OTHER FIGURES IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
65
The American Rationalists
75
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 17061790
77
JOHN ADAMS 17351826
80
THOMAS PAINE 17371809
85
ETHAN ALLEN 17381789
89
THOMAS JEFFERSON 17431826
91
JAMES MADISON 17511836
97
OTHER EARLY AMERICAN RATIONALISTS
99
The Nineteenth Century and the Turn of the Twentieth
103
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE 17491832
105
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 17691821
108
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER 17881860
112
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 17921822
115
RALPH WALDO EMERSON 18031882
119
JOHN STUART MILL 18061873
122
ABRAHAM LINCOLN 18091865
125
CHARLES DARWIN 18091882
128
CHARLES DICKENS 18121870
131
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON 18151902
134
HENRY DAVID THOREAU 18171862
138
GEORGE ELIOT 18191880
141
MATTHEW ARNOLD 18221888
144
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY 18251895
146
LEO TOLSTOY 18281910
152
ROBERT GREEN INGERSOLL 18331899
156
MARK TWAIN 18351910
161
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE 18371909
166
JOHN BURROUGHS 18371921
168
SIGMUND FREUD 18561939
211
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW 18561950
215
CLARENCE DARROW 18571938
220
FRANCISCO FERRER 18591909
223
JOHN DEWEY 18591952
225
GEORGE SANTAYANA 18631952
228
W E B DU BOIS 18681963
231
BERTRAND RUSSELL 18721970
233
ALBERT EINSTEIN 18791955
239
H L MENCKEN 18801956
242
OTHER FIGURES OF THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY
246
The Mid and Late Twentieth Century
259
MARGARET SANGER 18831966
261
WILL DURANT 18851981
263
WALTER LIPPMANN 18891974
266
LANGSTON HUGHES 19021967
269
AYN RAND 19051982
271
JEANPAUL SARTRE 19051980
273
A J AYER 19101989
276
ISAAC ASIMOV 19201992
278
GENE RODDENBERRY 19211991
280
STEVE ALLEN 1921
282
KURTVONNEGUT JR 1922
286
OTHER RECENT SCIENTISTS
289
OTHER RECENT LITERARY FIGURES
292
OTHER RECENT SCHOLARS AND REFORMERS
301
OTHERS IN THE ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
305
RECENT POLITICAL FIGURES
307
TROUBLED BELIEVERS
310
THE FUTURE?
318
Afterthought
323
Bibliography
325
Index
327
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

James A. Haught (Charleston, WV) is the editor of the Charleston Gazette, West Virginia s largest newspaper. He is the author of 2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Couruge to Doubt and four other books.

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