Finally, an academic book refuting new atheist historical myths

In 2018, as I just found out, the book The New Atheism, Myth, and History: The Black Legends of Contemporary Anti-Religion hit the press of an academic publisher. I just got access to the book and will immediately begin reading it. Those familiar with Tim O’Neill’s excellent blog on new atheist bad history (historyforatheists.com) will be very happy that this is now being openly propounded in academia. The description:

This book examines the misuse of history in New Atheism and militant anti-religion. It looks at how episodes such as the Witch-hunt, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust are mythologized to present religion as inescapably prone to violence and discrimination, whilst the darker side of atheist history, such as its involvement in Stalinism, is denied. At the same time, another constructed history—that of a perpetual and one-sided conflict between religion and science/rationalism—is commonly used by militant atheists to suggest the innate superiority of the non-religious mind. In a number of detailed case studies, the book traces how these myths have long been overturned by historians, and argues that the New Atheism’s cavalier use of history is indicative of a troubling approach to the humanities in general. Nathan Johnstone engages directly with the God debate at an academic level and contributes to the emerging study of non-religion as a culture and an identity.

O’Neill himself gave it a 5/5 stars so I’d imagine everyone should read it.

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This is great and I wish I could just download the entire book into my brain. Unfortunately the academic book comes with an academic price tag. Do you know if this author or others have plans to write a more accessible book?

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I’ve never actually read a book by one of the popular proponents of atheism. But I don’t need to read this book to know there are many overly simplistic, agenda driven and careless approaches to history prevalent when most atheists weigh in on the historical significance of religion. It’s an embarrassment.

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Coming from a YEC background originally, I realize that no group is free of those who misinterpret data to their own advantage. It’s a good reminder to steelman, rather than strawman, the arguments of those you encounter.

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VI’ve read, to my memory, two (Selfish Gene and Free Will). Selfish Gene wasn’t about atheism so was digestable, but Free Will by Harris was open nonsense. Nevertheless, Johnstone’s book provides a vast compendium of information and detailed refutation of the misrepresentations. It’s truly an eye-opener on the history of the witch hunts, medieval heresy hunters, Inquisition, and USSR atheism for anyone who grew up in Western culture. I’ve almost finished reading it.

@pevaquark Sadly I am not aware of any such things. There was a similar type of book published about a decade ago, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Harvard 2009) Short of pirating the aforementioned book, it’s available on Amazon for $93 (40 less than on the publishers website). I’d say if anyone is used to paying high prices for such books, they should knock the next one off their list and add Johnstone’s to their collection next.

I[quote=“Korvexius, post:5, topic:40952”]
There was a similar type of book published about a decade ago, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Harvard 2009) Short of pirating the book, it’s available on Amazon for $93 (40 less than on the publishers website). I’d say if anyone is used to paying high prices for such books, they should knock the next one off their list and add Johnstone’s to their collection next.
[/quote]
This is very concerning. Galileo goes to Jail lists for $21.50 on the publisher’s web site: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674057418
I wrote the chapter on Newton, and even though I don’t receive a share of the royalties, piracy is wrong and when it involves something I’ve written I always forward the information to the editor/publisher, as I just did in this case. I hope that link soon goes dead.

Ted, I think Korvexius was talking about the price of the book at the top of the post, The New Atheism…
Certainly, piracy is to be avoided, and will edit the post to remove the link on this site.

I read The God Delusion, and even as an atheist I found Dawkins’ arguments highly underwhelming

Yep - The New Atheism is the expensive one.

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