Discovering the varieties of atheism

‘If there are many different reigions, there are also many different atheisms,’ says John Gray, in the introduction to his book, Seven Types of Atheism (2018). A British philosopher and himself an atheist, Gray says that the New Atheists, who have dominated the debate between faith and non-faith for the past generation with their ridicule of religion, have failed to understand both religion and the broad tradition of atheism.

Gray distinguishes and explores the branches of atheism ancient and modern, from the old atheists of the Enlightenment through to the New Atheists of the recent past, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, whom he describes as ‘mostly a media phenomenon and best appreciated as a type of entertainment’. That comment immediately tells you that Gray’s book is not merely a field guide (although it is that too, and a very enjoyable one), but also a polemic against the types of atheism Gray thinks are too much in debt to religion.

In response to John Gray, the theologian and sociologist Andrew Walker has written a new booklet, Seven Atheisms, which is published today by Christian Evidence and available as a free download. The booklet provides a critical introduction to Gray’s book, and shows how theism and atheism have more to say to each other than you might think.

Says Andrew Walker: ‘John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism is an important book for both religious and non-religious readers. Gray, who describes himself as an atheist, is nevertheless critical of most versions of atheism.’

Andrew Walker is the Emeritus Professor of Theology, Culture and Education at King’s College London.

Download the Seven Atheisms booklet for free here.

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