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The Big Picture

The way we talk about culture war, the booming Religious Right, and the pushback of the “New Atheists,” you’d think the collision of faith and doubt was a new thing. It’s not. It’s a conversation—okay fine, an argument—that was already under way 3,000 years ago. When the author of Psalm 14 said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” he gave evidence that religious doubt was alive in some form in ancient Judea.

And it didn’t end there. Writings from ancient Greece, Rome, China, and India all testify to the presence of both religious and irreligious points of view, and secular and religious ideas about who we are and how we should behave continue to contend for the soul of human culture straight down through the centuries—not ...

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