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The Varieties of Nonreligious ExperienceAtheism in American Culture$
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Jerome P. Baggett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479874200

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479874200.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Well, I’ll Be Damned!

Well, I’ll Be Damned!

Considering Atheism beyond the “Popular View”

(p.1) 1 Well, I’ll Be Damned!
The Varieties of Nonreligious Experience

Jerome P. Baggett

NYU Press

This chapter debunks three presumptions about atheism and three presumptions about American atheists themselves. Concerning atheism, it demonstrates that, rather than being something simple, atheism is actually quite complex and variegated. Rather than being new, it is actually a long-standing phenomenon, and to illustrate, this chapter focuses on various atheist roots, or styles of atheist thinking, that appear in ancient Greece. Instead of being something extrinsic to the development of Western religion and consciousness, atheism is actually a reflection of these. Concerning atheists in the United States, this chapter also demonstrates that they are generally not immoral, which they are widely presumed to be. Nor, on the other hand, are they necessarily more rational than their religious fellow citizens. Lastly, atheists are not an insignificant minority since the proportion of Americans who identify as atheist is larger than that of many well-known religious groups; in fact, their numbers and cultural influence seem to be growing.

Keywords:   presumptions, American, atheism, atheists, ancient Greece

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