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Rebecca Moore
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A Historical Bibliography> Table of Contents> General Sources

Please credit San Diego State University, Department of Religious Studies in publications. Copyright San Diego State University.

As the world of Unbelief has emerged and developed, a number of attempts have been made to survey the field both in narrative histories and through the production of much needed reference works. This section includes reference book (encyclopedia, biographical dictionaries, etc.), general surveys of the history of Unbelief, and general surveys of the world of Unbelief and the issues around which it operates.

This author got to know atheist scholar Gordon Stein in the early 1980s in Chicago and developed a relationship based upon our mutual interests in creating archives and compiling reference works in two overlapping fields. This author later continued to work with him on developing atheist sources when we both lived in Southern California. Stein eventually deposited most of the atheist, Freethought, and related material at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then deposited many of the duplicate items he had collected at the Davidson Library at the University of California—Santa Barbara, where this author had deposited the Unitarian, Freethought, and atheist materials he had collected. These two universities continue to hold the largest archives in North America on the subject of this bibliography known to this author.

Supplementing the general sources listed below are some important on-line resources, the Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography ( immediately coming to mind. This ongoing project is under the general direction of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society and under the editorial control of J. D. Bowers, Peter Hughes, Dan McKanan, Jim Nugent, and Kathleen Parker.

The atheist community is served by “The Online Atheist Dictionary,” posted at and the Secular Web ( The latter site includes reprints of many classic atheist texts. The online edition of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy edited by Edward N. Zalta ( includes numerous detailed entries on the many thinkers who have led the way in the emergence of contemporary atheism.

The items cited below include those books designed in some way to cover broadly the world of Unbelief and includes encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, anthologies, histories, introductory texts to the world of Unbelief, and of course, bibliographies. Overwhelmingly, the items have been written by people who are themselves unbelievers, but a few worthy studies by religious believers have been included. Of course, in many cases the personal beliefs of the author are not known, and ideally should, in the end, be irrelevant to the production of their studies.


Baggini, Julian. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

Baumer, Franklin L. Religion and the Rise of Scepticism. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1960. 308 pp.

Baylen, Joseph O., and Norbert J. Gossman., eds. Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals. Vol. 1: 1770-1830. Vol. 2:  1830-1870. Hassocks, Sussex, UK: Harvester Press, 1979, 1985.

Blackford, Russell, and , Udo Schuklenk, eds. 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 256 pp.

Bratton, Fred Gladstone. The Legacy of the Liberal Spirit: Men and Movements in the Making of Modern Thought. Boston: Beacon Press, 1943. 319 pp.

Buckley, Michael J. At the Origins of Modern Atheism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987. 445 pp.

-----. Denying and Disclosing God: The Ambiguous Progress of Modern Atheism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

Budd, Susan. Varieties of Unbelief. London: Heinemann, 1977.

Cady, Linell E., and, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd. 2010. Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 302 pp.

Cobban, Alfred. Search of Humanity: The Role of the Enlightenment in Modern History. New York: George Braziller, 1960. 

Converse, Raymond W. Atheism as a Positive Social Force. New York: Algor, 2003.

Cooke, Bill. Dictionary Of Atheism, Skepticism, & Humanism. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005. 606 pp.

Courtney, Janet Elizabeth (Hogarth). Freethinkers of the Nineteenth Century.  1920. Rpt. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2009. 296 pp.

Dixon, Thomas. "Scientific Atheism as a Faith Tradition." Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2002): 337–359.

Dooley, Brendon. The Social History of Skepticism: Experience and Doubt in Early Modern Culture. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. 224 pp.

Drachmann, A. B. Atheism in Pagan Antiquity. 1922. Rpt.: Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1977.

Faulkenberry, Carol E. An Uppity Old Atheist Woman's Dictionary. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Freethought Society, 1998. 147 pp.

Flynn, Tom, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007. 897 pp.

Gaskin, J. C. A., ed. Varieties of Unbelief: From Epicurus to Sartre. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company/London: Collier Macmillan, 1989. 240 pp.

George, John H., and Laird M. Wilcox, eds.  Be Reasonable: Selected Quotations for Inquiring Minds. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1994. 361 pp.

Harris, Mark W. The A to Z of Unitarian Universalism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2009. 616 pp.

Haught, James A.  2000 Years of Disbelief: Famous People with the Courage to Doubt. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1996. 334 pp.

Hecht, Jennifer Michael. Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. New York: HarperOne, 2004. 576 pp.

Jennifer Michael Hecht (Author)

Herrick, Jim. Against the Faith: Essays on Deists, Skeptics and Atheists. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985. 250 pp.

-----. Humanism: An Introduction. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005. 105 pp.

Hitchins, Christopher. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. 3rd ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 2007. 528 pp.

Joshi, S. T., ed. The Agnostic Reader. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007. 286 pp.

-----. Atheism: A Reader. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000. 346 pp.

-----. Atheists, Agnostics, and Secularists. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. 463 pp.

-----. The Unbelievers: The Evolution of Modern Atheism. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2011. 304 pp.

Knight, Margart, and Jim Herrick, eds. Humanist Anthology. London: Rationalist Press Association, 2000. 169 pp. Rpt as Humanist Anthology: From Confucius to Attenborough. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. 220 pp.

Kors, Alan Charles, ed. Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. 4 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Larue, Gerald A. Freethought across the Centuries: Toward a New Age of Enlightenment. Amherst, NY: American Humanist Association 1996. 516 pp.

Levy, Leonard W. Treason against God: A History of the Crime of Blasphemy. New York: Shrocken, 1981.

McCabe, Joseph. A Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers. Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1945. Posted at

-----. A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists. London, Watts, 1920. Posted at

-----. A Rationalist Encyclopedia: A Book of Reference on Religion, Ethics and Science. 1948. 2nd ed: London: Watts, 1950.

McLelland, Joseph. Prometheus Rebound: The Irony of Atheism. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1988. 366 pp.

Martin, Michael, ed. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1980. 354 pp.

-----, and Ricki Monnier. The Impossibility of God. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2003.

Marty, Martin. Varieties of Unbelief. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964.  Rpt.: Garden City, NY:  Diubleday Anchor, 1966. 222 pp. 

Neusch, Marcel. The Sources of Modern Atheism: One Hundred Years of Debate over God. Translated by Matthew J. O'Connell. New York: Paulist Press, 1982.

Nokes, G. D. A History of the Crime of Blasphemy. London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1928.

Novikov, M. P. Dictionary of Atheism. New York: French & European Publications, 1983. 559 pp.

Odell, Robin, and Tom Barfield, comps. A Humanist Glossary. London: Pemberton, 1967.

Putnam, Samuel B. Four Hundred Years of Freethought. New York: Truth Seeker Co., 1894.

Robertson, John MacKinnon. A History of Freethought, Ancient and Modern, to the Period of the French Revolution. 2 vols. London: Watts, 1936.

Smith, Graham. A Short History of Secularism. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.

Smith, Warren Allen, ed. Who’s Who in Hell: A Handbook and International Directory of Humanists, Freethinkers, Natuaralists, Rationalists, and Non-Theists. New York: Barricade, 2000.

Stein, Gordon, ed.  An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1980.

-----. Atheism: A World Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1990.

-----, ed. The Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 2 vols. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985.

-----. God Pro and Con: A Bibliography of Atheism. New York; Garland Publishing, 1990.

-----, ed. A Second Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism, Buffalo, NY:  Prometheus Books, 1987.

Thrower, James. The Alternative Tradition: Religion and the Rejection of Religion in the Ancient World. The Hague: Mouton, 1980.

-----. A Short History of Western Atheism. London: Pemberton, 1971.

Sanford, James C. Great Freethinkers: Selected Quotations by Famous Skeptics and Nonconformists. Providence, RI: Metacomet Books, 2004. 250 pp.

Shermer, Michael. How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science. New York: Freeman, 2000. 302 pp.

Smith, Warren. Celebrities in Hell: A Guide to Hollywood's Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Free Thinkers, and More. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, 2002, 288 pp.

Szczesny, Gerhard. The Future of Unbelief. New York: Braziller, 1961.

Underwood, Sara A. Heroines of Freethought. New York: C. P Somerby, 1876.

Warner, Michael. “Secularism.” In Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, eds. Keywords for American Cultural Studies. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

-----, Jonathan Van Antwerpen, and, Craig Calhoun, eds. Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Wheeler, Joseph Mazzini. A Biographical Dictionary of Freethinkers of All Ages and Nations. London: Progressive, 1889.

Zuckerman, Phil, ed. Atheism and Secularity. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2009.

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