Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide

Edited by Anthony CarrollRichard Norman

© 2017 – Routledge

260 pages

My article, Chapter 15, is: “Belonging Without Believing: Religion, Atheism and Islam today”. I argue for a more compassionate space to respect the choice of people who decide not to believe in any religion, and I explore ways in which Islam could deal with rational choices and freedom of religion.

9781138891913A short extract:

“In contemporary debates around Islam in Western societies, often marred by politics of identity, one of the highly contentious issues that has emerged is the stigmatisation of people that leave their religion, to convert to another, or move to a position of agnosticism or atheism. This can become a serious concern with death threats, social isolation and a sense of being ‘cut-off’ from ones community, even family not unheard of. And yet the Qur’an asserts that, “there should be no compulsion in religion”. At the end of the chapter I propose a framework for thinking about this tension further, but it raises the questions of the relationship between Islam and terms such as ‘freedom’ (of religion), ‘humanism’, ‘secularism’ and ‘the secular’.”

About the Book

Arguments between those who hold religious beliefs and those who do not have been at fever pitch. They have also reached an impasse, with equally entrenched views held by believer and atheist – and even agnostic – alike. This collection is one of the first books to move beyond this deadlock. Specially commissioned chapters address major areas that cut across the debate between the two sides: the origin of knowledge, objectivity and meaning; moral values and the nature of the human person and the good life; and the challenge of how to promote honest and fruitful dialogue in the light of the wide diversity of beliefs, religious and otherwise. Under these broad headings leading figures in the field examine and reflect upon:

  • Secular and religious humanism
  • The idea of the sacred
  • The vexed issue of science in both religious and secular accounts of knowledge
  • Spirituality for the godless
  • Non-western perspectives on the atheism/theism debate.

A key feature of the collection is a dialogue between Raymond Tallis and Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide will interest anyone who is concerned about the clash between the religious and the secular and how to move beyond it, as well as students of ethics, philosophy of religion and religious studies.

You can find out more about the book here.


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