Wednesday, October 27, 2010

James Hervey Johnson's "Superior Men": the old atheism & the new

Today's topic is the pervasive historical amnesia permeating debates over the "new atheists" both within and without the atheist/humanist milieu. I recently picked up this old booklet Superior Men, by James Hervey Johnson, published in 1949, which evidently is the same as the linked text. It's this sort of material--good or bad--that the critics of the "new atheists" leave totally out of account, as if there never was any past other than a "civilized", genteel intellectual tradition that the "new atheists" have somehow degraded. Au contraire, public atheists today are meek & tame compared to firebrands of the past, and certainly no less "cruder" or bellicose than some of them.

The Case Against Religion (originally, ''Superior Men'')

James Hervey Johnson was the successor of Charles Lee Smith, founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism and editor of The Truth Seeker. This publication had a reputation for anti-Semitism. In any case, this is a subculture that has been ejected from historical memory in contemporary debates.

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