Sociology Index

Society and Atheism - Abstracts

Existentialism, Sociology of Religion

The Psychology of Atheism - Paul C Vitz - Abstract: There seems to be a widespread assumption throughout much of the Western intellectual community that belief in God is based on all kinds of irrational immature needs and wishes, but atheism or skepticism is derived from a rational, no-nonsense appraisal of the way things really are. What holds for belief in God holds as much if not more for atheism. Sauce for the believer is equally sauce for the unbeliever.

Atheism and the Courts - David Burnett, University of Virginia - School of Law - May 2006 - Abstract: Very little has been written about the treatment of atheists and atheism by American courts, but this note fills that gap by examining a range of judicial opinions on this topic. The Supreme Court now holds that atheists deserve the same constitutional protection as theists, although only two Court opinions have specifically dealt with atheistic plaintiffs.

As I explain, most lawsuits in the lower courts involving atheists have failed. I group these atheism-related lawsuits into two categories, meritorious and meritless claims. Meritorious claims engage the courts in seriously considering the scope of First Amendment rights and thereby help to define atheists' rights.

Even though many of these claims fail, they nonetheless present legitimate arguments. On the other hand, many cases involving atheists or alleged atheists fail to raise serious issues at all, and often fail on the facts, even before reaching the legal issues. These meritless cases frequently involve allegations of discrimination or personal harm for which the plaintiff lacks any evidence.

This distinction between meritorious and meritless atheism claims illuminates the treatment of atheists by American courts and society. Common wisdom holds that atheists are a large, persecuted minority, so therefore we might expect to find many serious and successful lawsuits brought by atheists, and perhaps some indication of mistreatment by the courts. Instead, the scarcity of meritorious lawsuits on this topic and atheists' apparently fair treatment by the courts suggests that atheists may not be as persecuted as we think. Nevertheless, the important goal underlying these suits - enforcing and extending the separation between church and state - should encourage future lawsuits brought by atheists.

Rationalism, Humanism and Atheism in Twentieth Century Indian Thought by Dr. Ramendra in collaboration with Dr. Kawaljeet. Buddhiwadi Foundation - a free ebook.
Book Review by: ramendra - Authors : Dr. Ramendra; Dr. Kawaljeet
The book contains biography and ideas of eight thinkers of twentieth century India: Periyar, M. N. Roy, Ambedkar, Gora, Kovoor, A. B. Shah, Narsingh Narain and Ramswaroop Verma. In addition to a brief life sketch of each of them, the author has particularly concentrated on their views on issues of relevance to rationalism-humanism.He has compared and contrasted these thinkers with one another, and other related thinkers, wherever possible, before making some critical comments on them in the concluding chapter,"Some Critical Comments". These critical comments have been made from a rationalist-humanist point of view. Dr. Ramendra has tried to evolve a more refined rational humanist philosophy for twenty-first century India by making a philosophical criticism of his distinguished predecessors. In the first introductory chapter titled "Rationalism, Humanism and Atheism", the approach is totally conceptual. The author has discussed the concepts of “rationalism”, “humanism” and “atheism” in a general way.
Along with being a work of interest for academicians and scholars, particularly in the sphere of philosophy, this book will be of interest to any general reader interested in rationalism, humanism and atheism, particularly in the Indian context.

Marx's Atheism and the Ideal of Self-Realization - William O'Meara, Feuerbach
This essay begins with a brief review of Marx's evaluation of Hegel and Feuerbach's understanding of God, focusing upon the human as a self-creator, not as created by God. The essay then turns to Peter Ehlen's evaluation in which he argues that Marx's concept of the human being as a self creator who transforms both the world and the self through labor has overemphasized the role of labor in creating objects for human usage and that Marx has neglected the self's relationship with others.

'Mystic Atheism': Julia Kristeva's Negative Theology - Arthur Bradley
This article examines Julia Kristeva's paradoxical concept of a 'mystic atheism'. It falls into three parts. First, it briefly surveys Kristeva's psychoanalytic account of Christian theology in Au commencement était l'amour (1985). Secondly, it assesses Kristeva's analysis of the Christian mystical tradition from Teresa of Avila to Angela of Foligno in such works as Le féminin et le sacré (1999) and the three volumes on Le génie féminin (1999— 2002). For Kristeva, Christian mysticism represents a key moment in the transition from theology to psychoanalysis: what she locates within the work of the female mystics is a so-called 'mystic atheism', that is to say, an affirmation of an other within the subject as opposed to the divine other that supposedly lies outside it. Finally, the article offers some critical comments upon Kristeva's own 'mystic atheism': I argue that—like much negative theology—Kristeva's psychoanalysis remains ontotheological in form and that this dimension expresses itself in a problematic tendency to anthropomorphize the other within. In conclusion, I will suggest that Kristeva's 'mystic atheism' ultimately remains within the theological tradition it seeks to call into question.

Generations and Atheism: Patterns of Response to Communist Rule among Different Generations and Countries - Sinisa Zrinak - Department of Social Work, Nazorova, Croatia
The communist systems in Central and Eastern European countries had some common features, with atheism as the cornerstone of the political order, but they varied in many different aspects. Both political pressure and social change brought about not only the rise of secularism but also the rise of religiosity, particularly in the 1980s. However, the course of change and the impact of atheism on generations were quite different in each country. This is shown in the empirical analysis, which is presented in two parts. First, four countries are examined (Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia) showing three distinctive responses to communist rule. Second, on the basis of the EVS 1999 data for 14 post-communist countries, three groups of countries are differentiated according to religious and non-religious legacies and the different generational impacts of the communist system.

Research Note: Sociology and the Study of Atheism - Bullivant, Stephen
Source: Journal of Contemporary Religion, Volume 23, Number 3, October 2008 , pp. 363-368(6), Publisher: Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Abstract: Historically, atheism has been neglected by the social sciences. This fact, in the light of the recent upsurge of popular and media interest in the subject, is particularly unfortunate. Rectifying this is, however, not a straightforward task: studies devised for exploring religion cannot, for example, reliably be used to investigate its lack. This research note presents findings from a preliminary survey, administered to Oxford University students in November 2007; it was specifically designed with the study of atheism and related issues in mind. In addition to revealing the religious attitudes and beliefs of students at a modern British university, the survey yields a number of significant results regarding contemporary atheism and unbelief.

Atheism, Free Will, And Material Determinism - Wayland Dong - an interesting debate through letters.

Atheism, faith, and the social scientific study of religion - R. Stark (S. W. University of Washington, USA) - Journal of Contemporary Religion(1999)14,1,41-62
The social "scientific" study of religion originated in atheism, and the basic theses pursued today, especially by psychologists and anthropologists, are little changed since they were first proposed by militant opponents of religion in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. In this essay I trace these links from major scholar to major scholar across the centuries. I then examine the remarkable irony that the recent emergence of a truly scientific approach to religion was accomplished mainly by an influx of "believers". I sketch why and how this happened before turning to an assessment of the persistence of atheistic biases. I conclude with suggestions about how a truly scientific study of religion can be pursued by both believers and unbelievers, if not by fanatics of either stripe.