BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


Vanity Fair

William Thackery


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Modern atheism

by James Buchanan

Excerpt:

Before entering on a detailed discussion of the theories to which it appeals, it may be useful to offer some general reflections on Atheism itself, its generic nature and specific varieties, its causes and springs, whether permanent or occasional, and its moral and social influence, as illustrated alike by individual experience and by public history.

By Atheism we mean any system of opinion which leads men either to doubt or to deny the Existence, Providence, and Government of a living, personal, and holy God, as the Creator and Lord of the world. In its practical aspect, it is that state of mind which leads them to forget, disown, or disobey Him.

We are met, however, at the outset, by a previous question, Whether Atheism be a real or even a possible thing? a question which was wont to be discussed by divines under the head, an dentur Athei?1 and which has recently been revived by the strong protestations of some philosophic writers, who deny not only the existence, but the very possibility of Atheism. On this point the policy which infidels have pursued has been widely different at different times. On some occasions, they have sought to exaggerate the number of Atheists, claiming as their own adherents or allies a large majority of the intellectual classes, as well as whole tribes or nations of barbarians, in

1 Budd^i, " Theses Theologicse de Atheismo ot Superstitione," cap. i.

order to impress the public mind with the conviction that belief in God is neither natural nor universal; at other times, they have sought to allay the prejudice which avowed Atheism seldom fails to awaken, by disclaiming much that had been imputed to them, by professing a sort of mystic reverence for the Spirit of Nature, and by denying that their speculations involve a disbelief in God. In following these opposite courses at different times, they have been actuated by a politic regard to the exigencies of their wretched cause, and have alternately adopted the one or the other, just as it might seem, in existing circumstances, to be more expedient either to brave or to conciliate public opinion. It is incumbent, therefore, on every enlightened advocate of Christian Theism to exercise a prudent discretion in the treatment of this topic, and to guard equally against the danger either of being led to exaggerate the extent, or of being blinded to the existence of the evil. Nor is it difficult to discover a safe middle path- between the opposite extremes: it is only necessary to define, in the first instance, what we mean when we speak of Theism or Atheism respectively, and then to ascertain, in the second place, whether any, and what, parties have avowed principles which should fairly serve to connect them with the one system or with the other. A clear conception of the radical principle or essential nature of Atheism is indispensable ; for without this, we shall be liable, on the one hand, to the risk of imputing Atheism to many who are not justly chargeable with it — a fault which should be most carefully avoided;1 and equally liable, on the other hand, to the danger of overlooking the wide gulf which separates Religion from Irreligion, and Theism from Atheism. There is much room for the exercise both of Christian candor and of critical discrimination, in forming our estimate of the characters of men from the opinions which they hold, when these opinions

1 J. C. Wolfius, "Do Atheismi falso Suspectis."

I

relate not to the vital truths of religion, but to collateral topics, more or less directly connected with them. It is eminently necessary, in treating this subject, to discriminate aright between systems which are essentially and avowedly atheistic, and those particular opinions on cognate topics which have sometimes been applied in support of Atheism, but which may, nevertheless, be held by some salvd fide, and without conscious, still less avowed, Infidelity. And henee Buddreus and other divines have carefully distinguished between the radical principles or grounds of Atheism, and those opinions which are often, but not invariably, associated with it.1


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