ATHEISM has its roots in the ancient world and is not a recent modern phenomenon, according to the author of a new book, Battling the Gods.
Tim Whitmarsh, professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University, lays out his case that atheism existed in polytheistic ancient Greece.
Whitmarsh says the book is “an attempt to excavate ancient atheism from underneath the rubble heaped on it by millennia of Christian opprobrium.”
“Atheism is not a modern invention from the western Enlightenment, but actually dates back to the ancient world,” he told The Guardian newspaper.
However, the author’s objective was dismissed by Rodney Stark, co-director of The Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and distinguished professor of the Social Sciences.
“I don’t know of a serious scholar who thinks atheism is modern–they have been observed in preliterate societies and may well have existed among the Neanderthal,” Stark, who has authored 38 books, told CBN News.
“I fail to see how that has significance for the hardwired thesis, which would surely assume that a few in any generation would be not be wired properly–and in all eras atheists are scarce,” he said.
Whitmarsh told The Guardian that “the growing trend towards seeing religion as ‘hardwired’ into humans is deeply worrying.”
“I am trying to destabilise this notion, which seems to be gaining hold all the time, that there is something fundamental to humanity about religious belief,” he said.
Stark disagreed that the “hardwired” theory is even relevant.
“Personally, I am not inclined to accept the ‘hardwired’ thesis, since there are fully adequate reasons for humans to believe in God,” he said.