Here is some recommended reading from back in 1861: “A Defense of Atheism By Ernestine L. Rose: Boston, April 10, 1861.”
Thanks to The Perplexed Observer for highlighting some of the best parts of this lecture. I didn’t get past the first paragraph before finding lines that are as poignant today as they were then. In her opening, Rose had this to say about the question of the existence of a god:
IN UNDERTAKING THE INQUIRY of the existence of a God, I am fully conscious of the difficulties I have to encounter. I am well aware that the very question produces in most minds a feeling of awe, as if stepping on forbidden ground, too holy and sacred for mortals to approach. The very question strikes them with horror, and it is owing to this prejudice so deeply implanted by education, and also strengthened by public sentiment, that so few are willing to give it a fair and impartial investigation, knowing but too well that it casts a stigma and reproach upon any person bold enough to undertake the task, unless his previously known opinions are a guarantee that his conclusions would be in accordance and harmony with the popular demand. But believing as I do, that Truth only is beneficial, and Error, from whatever source, and under whatever name, is pernicious to man, I consider no place too holy, no subject too sacred, for man’s earnest investigation; for by so doing only can we arrive at Truth, learn to discriminate it from Error, and be able to accept the one and reject the other.
Stunningly, and especially here in America some 151 years after this was written, religion still enjoys a kind of immunity from critical investigation not enjoyed by any other topic of inquiry.