|Pages/Publication Date:||290 / 2015|
How new is atheism? Who first eschewed faith for reason? Atheists and their opponents both tend to see atheism as a result of the Enlightenment, when the logic of science and secularism broadly challenged the precepts of faith, yet people have been disbelieving for millennia. Classicist Tim Whitmarsh here takes us back to the ancient Mediterranean—a world almost inconceivably different from our own—to recover the stories and voices of those who first refused the divinities. Whitmarsh provides a bracing antidote to our assumptions about the roots of freethinking, offering a timely reminder that nonbelief has a wealth of tradition and its own roster of heroes.
"Whitmarsh argues convincingly that ... [atheism] isn't a product of the modern age but rather reaches back to early Western intellectual tradition in the ancient Greek world.... The best part of Battling the Gods is the Greek chorus of atheists themselves.... If you've been paying attention to contemporary atheists you might be startled by the familiarity of the ancient positions."—NYTBR