About Us

The Atheist Scholar is an online resource for those interested in a serious, interdisciplinary study of atheism. We offer a set of free lectures that provide a comprehensive course in Atheist Studies for the serious student, as well as a review of relevant books and films of interest.

The Atheist Scholar website was originally created and published in 2011 by Mary C. Taylor, Jim Taylor, and Norm Cohen. It was reorganized, reformatted, and migrated to a new platform in 2024. The video lectures on this site are also available on the Atheist Scholar YouTube channel.

Mary C. Taylor is the principal author and researcher of the Atheist Scholar website.  She is a lifelong atheist from an atheist/agnostic family.  Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude graduate (Wayne State University 1973).  After a brief stint as a Teaching Assistant at Wayne State teaching English Grammar and Composition, she became the owner of Grub Street–A Bookery, an out-of-print and rare hardcover bookshop in Detroit, Michigan for over 20 years.  Her postgraduate work has been in Film and Italian Language and Culture.

Mary was a student in the L.I.N.E.S. program at the Detroit Institute of Art for 5 years.  L.I.N.E.S. was a unique program for writers that offered a range of classes in Postmodern and Classical Philosophy, Film Studies, Literature, and Popular Culture. Mary was a co-editor of Triage, an avant-garde literary magazine, and co-editor of Persimmon, an international haiku poetry magazine. She has read her poetry in many venues, including The Detroit Public Library Poetry Series and the well-regarded Wayne State Poetry Colloquium Series.  She has taught rare book courses at the Grosse Point Public Schools’ Adult Education Program and taught haiku poetry at the Detroit public library branches and in the former Michigan Prison Program.  She is a co-translator of The World is a Prison, by the Italian novelist, Guglielmo Petroni.  Mary also wrote a few film reviews and feature articles for the Metro Times in Detroit in the 1980’s. She was a winner in the Metro Times Literature Edition and a judge for that edition in the following year.

Mary became aware of the lack of courses for atheists when she embarked on an exploration of atheism in all its aspects.  She learned from experience that it was often difficult to know which books to begin with in many fields.  She hopes to make up for this difficulty by putting together an Atheist Studies curriculum, with lectures on many subjects and a related book list, which suggests books for the beginning student and the more advanced scholar.  She believes this website shows the potential for a degree program in Atheist Studies online.  It would necessarily be much more involved than the material that has been presented so far and she looks forward to the day atheists can go online and earn a degree in Atheist Studies.

Ms. Taylor has most recently lectured in 2012 on Atheist History, Atheism and the Law, and Atheist Ethics at the Farmington Unitarian Church, Farmington, Michigan and at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

She was a contributor in July 2012 to Zócalo Public Square’s article, “Who Cares About Death Anymore? Three Scholars on What the Rise of Atheism Means for Our Feelings about the Hereafter.” This article was in conjunction with the Getty Museum’s exhibition: Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages.

Mary hopes that visitors to Atheist Scholar will enjoy it and learn from it as much as she has while preparing and presenting these materials.

James R. Taylor did the uploading of most of the lectures on the original website and assisted Mary with technical concerns. He was the principal writer and researcher of Atheist Demographics and Intelligent Design and Creationism on this site.

Jim was an assistant principal in the Detroit public school system for 30 years and has a master’s degree from Wayne State University in Education, specializing in Reading.

He co-edited the international haiku poetry magazine, Persimmon.  He was active in Little Theatre for many years, both as an actor and a director.  Jim also had an online ceramics business, Aged Clay, and sold ceramic jewelry and other pieces at the historic Pewabic Pottery.

Jim slipped into atheism in his late teens. He was an actor in the Michigan State University production, Murder at the Cathedral, by T.S. Eliot and the lead actor, playing Argan, in the Michigan State University production, The Imaginary Invalid, by Moliere, while a student there in the late 1950’s.  He also acted and directed in several avant-garde productions by Samuel Beckett at the First Unitarian Church in Detroit, Michigan in the late 1960’s.  He directed and acted in the Edward Albee play, American Dream, with his wife, Mary, in the late 1960’s as well, at First Unitarian.

Norm Cohen is the website’s technical webmaster and adviser. He is a software engineer and long-time atheist. He is the founder and organizer of the Atheist Scholars Meetup group and book club at

The Atheist Scholar is not affiliated with any institution or organization. It is a completely privately financed endeavor.