My Path to Atheism cover

My Path to Atheism

Annie Besant (1847-1933)

1. Preface to First Edition
2. On the Deity of Jesus of Nazareth
3. A comparison between the fourth gospel and the three synoptics
4. On the Atonement
5. On the Mediation and Salvation of Ecclesiastical Christianity
6. On Eternal Torture
7. On Inspiration
8. On the Religious Education of Children
9. Natural Religion versus Revealed Religion
10. On the Nature and Existence of God. Part 1
11. On the Nature and Existence of God. Part 2
12. Euthanasia
13. On Prayer
14. Constructive Rationalism
15. The Beauties of the Prayer-Book
16. The Communion Service
17. The Baptismal Offices
18. The Order of Confirmation
19. The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony
20. The Order for the Visitation of the Sick
21. The Order for the Burial of the Dead
22. A Commination or Denouncing of God's Anger and Judgements against Sinners
23. Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea
24. The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, according to the Order of the United Church of England and Ireland
25. The Articles
26. The Church of England Catechism

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My Path to Atheism is a remarkable document in many ways, not least that it was written by a woman in Victorian England, not the most open free-thinking of societies, especially for women at that time. It needed a remarkable woman to write such a revolutionary and to 19th century minds, heretical document in a society where the Church had such a stronghold. Besant herself was originally married to a clergyman, but her increasingly anti-religious views and writings led to a legal separation. She went on to become a member of the National Secular Society and thence to co-edit the National Reformer, which put forth ideas on revolutionary ideas at the time such as trades unions, national education, birth control and so on. In 1877 Besant published this book 'My Path to Atheism' which was compiled from a series of lectures in which she surgically dissects the basic tenets of Christianity. As one reads the chapters, one can follow the evolution of her ideas from Theism to Atheism, ending up with a stunning refutation of the Church of England Catechism.