Atheism and Agnosticism: Exploring the Issues

ABC-CLIO. (Religion in Politics and Society Today). Aug. 2021. 247p. ISBN 9781440870828. $40. REF
For Huff (history, philosophy, religious studies, and global studies, Benedictine Univ., IL; The Voice of Vatican II), atheism and agnosticism express “the defining freedoms of the modern age: inquiry, revolution, invention.” His introductory essay in this new volume eschews a narrow view, steers readers away from negative descriptors, and quotes social scientist Phil Zuckerman on the “courage and awe” and authenticity of often-persecuted doubters and dissenters. This refreshing approach underpins his book’s balanced perspective and allows readers to see facets they might otherwise miss, including cultural and psychological value independent of religion’s truth or dogma. In about 60 astute analytical entries (with cross-reference and further reading), Huff expertly broadens the field of inquiry to non-Western, nonwhite, and gender-diverse viewpoints, over a range of expressions of nontheism (e.g., atheism and agnosticism in Islam; the impact of faith-based homophobia on LGBTQ+ Americans). He assesses key figures and concepts, offering occasional revelations (e.g., in Rome’s heyday, Jews and Christians were referred to as atheists). A chronology (1811–2020) provides both historical and contemporary perspective, and the index and annotated bibliography will be useful.
VERDICT Few are agnostic about atheism and agnosticism; this eloquent, wide-ranging volume should appeal to many, as well as supporting recent academic interest in its subject.
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