top of page
Screen Shot 2022-03-20 at 12.02.00 PM.png

Genus Unbelief, Species Atheism: The Case for and Against Unbelief as a Master Concept for Non-Religion

Jack David Eller

Vol. 3, No. 1

Summer 2021

Pages: 1-24

DOI: 10.33929/sherm.2021.vol3.no1.01



More from the Author

Rational Faith.png
Rational Faith.png


Excursus 1.png

Jack David Eller, Atheism, Unbelief, Irreligion, Belief, Credition, Religion, Humanism

Recent initiatives by Stein, Flynn, Conrad, and others have promoted ‘unbelief’ as a replacement, an ‘umbrella term,’ for concepts like atheism, secularism, and irreligion. In this essay I show that unbelief as it is currently construed cannot serve this function: it is simultaneously too broad (embracing not only irreligion but heterodox religious belief) and too narrow (focusing on religious belief to the exclusion of other types of belief), and it commits a taxonomic error of equating unbelief with categories above and below its level. However, I also argue that, once reformed and disciplined, unbelief is a valuable and essential tool, and I provide some resources and models for a future Unbelief Studies in the Credition Research Project and the literature on agnotology, as well as ethnographical material questioning the cross-cultural applicability of belief and unbelief. Finally, I charge Unbelief Studies with the mission not only to analyze belief but to criticize and ultimately banish it as a bad mental and linguistic habit that perpetuates mistakes and leaves individuals vulnerable to further faults while eroding social trust and facticity itself.


Davis, Stephen vol 2, no 2 PREVIEW_Page_


SHERM Front Cover - no glow.png

Print Issue


ATLA 3.jpg
Screen Shot 2022-03-20 at 12.04.43 PM.png
bottom of page