By David Berman

Probably no doctrine has excited as a lot horror and abuse as atheism. this primary heritage of British atheism, first released in 1987, tries to give an explanation for this response whereas displaying the improvement of atheism from Hobbes to Russell. even supposing avowed atheism seemed strangely overdue – 1782 in Britain – there have been covert atheists within the center 17th century. via tracing its improvement from so early a date, Dr Berman provides an account of a huge and engaging strand of highbrow history.

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Extra resources for A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell

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This we found in Wise and More. Yet another indication of repression which we have encountered is the writer's trying to define the denied thing out of existence. ) Of course, if the abusive language becomes too violent, and if there is a too-clear recognition that affirming the thing may only encourage 23 The Repression of Atheism it, then we may be tempted to see the denial as suppressive. 26 But while there are similarities between this splitting and the crucial clash especially in conflict of belief - there are also differences.

How could he know that he was not an atheist if his talk and behaviour were expressive of atheistic belief? If he behaved in all respects like an atheist - that is, verbally, socially, etc. - then how could he (or we) distinguish himself from an atheist? His answer would seem to be that it was the 'witness of his conscience' which revealed his professions of atheism to be insincere. If we interpret this to mean that he felt guilty, or had qualms of conscience, when he said that he was an atheist, then we may have found a way of distinguishing his would-be atheism from authentic atheism.

Where there is a denial and an affirmation the denial may be taken to be symptomatic of repression. As I have interpreted the denial of atheism, the denier is unaware that his denial has the same aim as his indirect argumentative affirmation of atheism, namely to inhibit atheism. I would say the same of Freud's description of those who deny infantile sexuality; the denial itself was unconsciously designed to inhibit infantile sexuality. It is a less severe and obvious technique, but it has the same aim as the other educational efforts alluded to by Freud.

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