Voices of Unbelief
Documents from Atheists and Agnostics
by Dale McGowan, Editor
September 2012, 278pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-978-3
$110, £85, 96€, A151
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eBook Available: 978-1-59884-979-0
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Unbelief is manifest in the denials of 15th-century atheists caught in the net of the Inquisition and in the letters of an 18th-century priest revealing doubts to his parishioners. It is found in writings from China, India, and the Arab world and in the doctrine of early feminists. Unbelief is controversial, thought provoking, and a most interesting window into the past—and present.

This book spotlights individual expressions of atheist, agnostic, and secular humanist opinion—both public and private—to shed light on the phenomenon of religious disbelief throughout history and across cultures.

Voices of Unbelief: Documents from Atheists and Agnostics is the first anthology to provide comprehensive, annotated readings on atheism and unbelief expressly for high school and college students. This diverse compilation brings together letters, essays, diary entries, book excerpts, blogs, monologues, and other writings by atheists and agnostics, both through the centuries and across continents and cultures.

Unlike most other anthologies of atheist writings, the collection goes beyond public proclamations of well-known individuals to include the personal voices of unbelievers from many walks of life. While readers will certainly find excerpts from the published canon here, they will also discover personal documents that testify to the experience of living outside of the religious mainstream. The book presents each document in its historical context, enriched with an introduction, key questions, and activities that will help readers understand the past and navigate current controversies revolving around religious belief.


  • Documents include book and diary excerpts, letters, blogs, and video and radio scripts, bringing historical settings and individual lives into focus
  • A chronology helps place the writings and writers in history and in relation to each other
Dale McGowan is a writer, educator, and executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a humanist charitable foundation. His previous books include Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion and Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, the first comprehensive resources for nonreligious parents. In 2008, he was named Humanist of the Year by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.


"Written for an advanced high school or introductory college course, this encyclopedia is a welcome primer on the subject. . . . McGowan allows the documents in this reference work to speak for themselves (no pun intended). High school and academic libraries with a focus on religious studies will want to add this invaluable resource to their collections."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"McGowan, a noted humanist scholar, has succeeded admirably in packaging a reader on this controversial topic for high school and college students."—Choice, February 1, 2013

"Strengths of this text are the many resources that will help readers engage with and understand the material, and the array of perspectives from different eras, regions, cultures, and social groups. Overall, a helpful primer on the many different perspectives on a complex subject."—Library Journal, February 1, 2013
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