The Problem of Atheism: Del Noce, Marx, and the Roots of Western Irreligion

Augusto Del Noce (d. 1989) ranked as one of Europe’s leading public intellectuals and cultural critics. His seminal text, The Problem of Atheism, has never gone out of print in Italy, his homeland. A committed Christian and distinguished philosopher, he flirted with Communism as a counterweight to his nation’s fascism in the years before the Second World War. The love affair didn’t last. He spent his postwar career deconstructing Marxism and its toxic effects. But he also offered keen insights into the roots and rapid rise of practical atheism in the West.

On January 5, The Problem of Atheism will appear in English for the first time. Join Prof. Carlo Lancellotti, Del Noce’s translator and an expert in Del Noce’s thought, along with EPPC Fellow Aaron Kheriaty, M.D., author of a forthcoming book on Del Noce, and EPPC Fellow Carl R. Trueman, author of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, for a discussion of Del Noce’s book, his work, and his enduring importance. EPPC Senior Fellow Francis X. Maier moderates the discussion.

About the Participants

Francis X. Maier is a senior fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Mr. Maier’s work focuses on the intersection of Christian faith, culture, and public life, with special attention to lay formation and action.

Carlo Lancellotti is Professor of Mathematics at the College of Staten Island & City University of New York. His field of interest is Mathematical Physics, with special emphasis on non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. Professor Lancellotti has translated three of Augusto Del Noce’s works into English and has led various seminars on the thought of Del Noce.

Aaron Kheriaty is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he directs EPPC’s program in Bioethics and American Democracy. He is Professor of Psychiatry at UCI School of Medicine and Director of the Medical Ethics Program at UCI Health. He serves as chairman of the medical ethics committees at UCI Hospital and at the CA Department of State Hospitals.

Carl R. Trueman is a fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping civic leaders and policy makers better understand the deep roots of our current cultural malaise. He is the author of the best-selling, award-winning 2020 book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution, and Strange New World, due to be published in February 2022.

About the Book

In 1964, Augusto Del Noce assembled in a book some of his best works on Marxism, atheism, and the history of modern philosophy. The result was Il problema dell’ateismo, which he always regarded as foundational to his way of thinking. The book remains his best-known work and is still in print in Italy almost sixty years later. The Problem of Atheism offers the first English translation of this landmark book, one of the earliest works to recognize the new secularizing trends in Western culture following World War II. Del Noce situates atheism historically, reconstructing its philosophical trajectory through European modernity. Documenting the author’s entire intellectual experience, these essays explore the birth of modern philosophy, reckon with the great European crisis of 1917 to 1945 and the Cold War that followed, and mine the opposition between Marxism and the rise of the affluent society. The result is rich with premonitions of the cultural landscape that would take shape throughout the 1960s and the decades that followed. Proving its English translation to be long overdue, The Problem of Atheism remains relevant to contemporary debates about secularization, political theology, and modernity.

Publication date: January 5, 2022

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