Religious Atheism

Twelve Philosophical Apostles

By Erik Meganck

Subjects: Theology, Continental Philosophy, Philosophy Of Religion, Metaphysics
Series: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought
Hardcover : 9781438495248, 240 pages, November 2023
Paperback : 9781438495255, 240 pages, May 2024

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Table of contents


1. Reflection: Feuerbach

2. Opium: Marx

3. Leap: Kierkegaard

4. Dead: Nietzsche

5. Neurosis: Freud

6. Primitive: Russell

7. Silence: Wittgenstein

8. Nothing: Heidegger

9. Unfree: Sartre

10. Face: Levinas

11. Metanarratives: Lyotard

12. Silent: Derrida


Calls into question the traditional polarity of theism and atheism.


Feuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Levinas, Lyotard, Derrida. Why were these twelve so-called atheist heavyweights unable to wipe God off the table once and for all? Perhaps they did not intend to. Perhaps their atheism was directed at something other than God and religion. In that case, suggests Erik Meganck, we should look for a more fertile philosophical meaning of atheism to distinguish it from the shallow, more popular definitions of the term. Toward this aim, Meganck offers a rereading of the twelve apostles in this book, who are, he demonstrates, more religious than public opinion often holds. God and religion do not disappear in their work, but each of them tears down a pillar from the grand edifice that is traditional metaphysics. Modern thought has gradually dismantled philosophical and theological systems—“theisms”—which means that we must look for God in the “a-” rather than in “theism.” Meganck's adventurous and daring exploration calls into question the traditional polarity of theism and atheism, leading philosophy and theology away from metaphysical theism, through the death of God, and into a philosophical atheism that does not speak out on the existence of God but hears the Name. This Name opens onto a promise of sense.

Erik Meganck is Professor of Philosophy and Christianity at the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism in Antwerp and the International Institute Canon Triest in Ghent.


"Erik Meganck is slowly but surely becoming an original voice in the field of continental philosophy of religion. His Religious Atheism offers fresh insights in classic atheist figures and novel interpretations of contemporary thinkers. The book will make for excellent course material but will also surprise seasoned readers within the field." — Joeri Schrijvers, author of Between Faith and Belief