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Imagine There's No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World
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Imagine There's No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  17 reviews
The historical achievements of religious belief have been large and well chronicled.  But what about  the accomplishments  of those  who have challenged religion? Traveling from classical Greece to twenty-first century America, Imagine There’s No Heaven explores the role of disbelief in shaping Western civilization. At each juncture common themes emerge: by questioning the ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by St. Martin's Press
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3.88  · 
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 ·  88 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4 of 5

Stephens mentioned in the Acknowledgments that Imagine There's No Heaven was a decade-long process, which, within the first chapter, was immediately apparent. (40+ pages in the Notes along with multiple footnotes.) It took me a few chapters to adjust to his narrative style: He'd start off with a more modern "character" or "star" of disbelief / atheism then jump back a couple decades or a few hundred years or a thousand years to someone else, who possibly influenced the person he ha
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
The first ~half of this book failed to grasp my attention, it took me forever to finish and when I read it in bed, I would start falling asleep after reading only a couple of pages. BUT the second half was absolutely amazing. I am so glad to have "learned" about such personalities as Ernestine Rose, Madalyn Murray O'Hair and Charles Bradlaugh, in such detail. The tone of the book reminded me of my previous history/social studies books because it was pretty dull at certain parts. Also, I think ha ...more
Stephens has written a kind of atheist’s history of Western Civ. While the historical stuff makes for interesting reading, my favorite parts of the book dealt with humanity’s attempts to find meaning in life when confronted by a godless universe. (Without trying to create gods of our own to slavishly follow – French Revolutionary extremism, Communism, Nazism, etc.)
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: atheism
Everyone knows curiosity killed the proverbial cat. Yet it likely also is responsible for the death of God, at least in many people. Although that death may not have been premeditated, it is the result of a natural human tendency to seek explanations. Moreover, Mitchell Stephens suggests, were it not for atheist thought, Western civilization may never have seen the scientific revolution or the "Age of Reason."

Stephens makes a strong case for his view in Imagine There's No Heaven: How Atheism He
Miriam Downey
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Read my full review here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.c...

It is all a mystery, and the longer I live, the more I live in the Mystery. The book Imagine There's No Heaven by Mitchell Stephens contributes to the mystery. My husband and I read it aloud over several months and found it fascinating read.

First it must be said that it is not a polemic against religion, but the book is a history of the fascinating figures who contributed to the atheistic thinking of the last many centuries and ce
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was a very lukewarm book for me. I was happy and eager to learn about the history of outspoken atheism, and fine with that tying into a bigger picture of modern innovations and lack of faith allowing further prodding into the universe. However, the 'creating the modern world' aspect was not really discussed all that much, and when it was I sometimes found the leaps kind of ridiculous (mostly in regards to modern art movements). I didn't mind that it wasn't addressed much, because the histor ...more
Paul Anderson
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a Goodreads FirstRead. There were definitely elements that I found very interesting. For instance, there were many aspects of the French Revolution about which, for whatever reason, I had been ignorant, and the level of detail about those events was enlightening. This was also the case when discussing various notable free-thinkers, especially Americans, who are relatively unknown and unappreciated despite their strides toward women's suffrage, abolition, and other civil r ...more
Justin Powell
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A not so expansive history of famous free-thinkers over recorded history. Almost no time is given to the big names over the past hundred years or so, or at least in my opinion anyways. A majority of these characters most people will have never heard of. Such as Bradlaugh, Meslier, Diderot, d'Holbach, Shelley, or Rose. Not everyone in the book is an out right atheist. To me this is more of a history of free-thinkers. You see a slow progression leading up to our modern day "New Atheism", who indee ...more
Apr 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I was glad to get the opportunity to review this book as the subject I find most fascinating and with such relevance to our daily lives. To believe or not to believe, that is the question. Stephen's book does not directly address the rights or wrongs of such pondering but gives us an insightful and educational view of those who struggled through the centuries putting forth their view that went directly in the face of the powerful forces, the religionists.

We are introduced to familiar and unfamil
Scott Lupo
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A pretty interesting book telling the history of the most prominent nonbelievers from Ancient Greece to today. It's not a complete history by any means as that would be a very long book. However Mitchell Stephens chooses those nonbelievers that had the most impact on society at those times in history. As he points out there were probably other significant nonbelievers but much of that history was blotted out and destroyed by religious zealots over the years. So what remains are the most compelli ...more
Kim Williams
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: atheism
This book was at times difficult to get through but it was worth it. The author's writing style, while he did his best to be engaging, often fell a bit flat for me. That being said, this book made me feel proud to be part of this long lineage of freethinkers who asked the question, "How can that be?" By questioning, we learn, we grow, we advance, we evolve. Humanity's progressive march has been very much the story of questioning religion and its absolute truths. To seek answers not found in a ch ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A bit dry, but this was very carefully researched and gives a a detailed tour of famous and infamous atheists and their contributions to the modern world -- starting with Anacreon and the Carvakas of India, and moving through to the late 20th century, the author spotlights some forgotten heroes of free thought, profiling abolitionists, artists, and reformers alongside the more well-known philosophers and scientists. Of particular interest to me was his discussion of skepticism and unbelief among ...more
Gretta Vosper
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My partner and I kept this book in the car to read while we were traveling anywhere. It was so well written that it made the miles fly by. At the same time, it could be read in little chunks if we were going only a short distance, each one of them offering up a wonderful little bit of information we hadn't known or hadn't shared. All of which added up to a remarkable book which is a delight to share.
Melissa Pugh
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-down
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Graham Knight
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It sets how to show how the loosening of religion's stranglehold enabled scientific progress to be made. It introduced me to a whole history of atheists writers & thinkers that I was unaware of. There is a lot more reading to be done!
Richard Lawrence
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: freethought
Excellent work on the history of atheism and how unbelief has shaped our modern world.
Charles Gibson
rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Mar 26, 2014
Jacobo Abbo
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Dec 26, 2015
robert haufman
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Jul 02, 2016
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May 15, 2014
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Apr 28, 2016
Alan Michael Wilt
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Mar 08, 2014
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Mar 28, 2014
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May 23, 2019
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Jan 15, 2016
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Jul 03, 2014
Rashid Malik
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May 04, 2014
Jovany Agathe
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Feb 21, 2018
Michael Zeigler
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book with lots of mini bios of several great deists and secularists.
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MITCHELL STEPHENS, a professor of journalism in the Carter Institute at New York University, is the author of A History of News, a New York Times “notable book of the year.” Stephens also has written several other books on journalism and media, including Beyond News: The Future of Journalism and the rise of the image the fall of the word. Recently he published Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheis ...more
“What! A ferocious animal has sucked the blood of my family. I tell you to get rid of that beast, and you ask me, What shall we put in its place!” Voltaire’s” 0 likes
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