Cover: Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt, from Harvard University PressCover: Unbelievers in HARDCOVER


An Emotional History of Doubt

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Product Details


$27.95 • £22.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674241824

Publication Date: 11/19/2019


272 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Belknap Press

Not for sale in UK, British Commonwealth (except Canada), Europe and Israel

Masterly… Ryrie’s deeply researched work is an enlightening ramble through intellectual history of opposition to Christian belief that will appeal to any reader interested in religious scholarship.Publishers Weekly

An informative, engaging, creative, and persuasive account of the origin of unbelief in western societies. The research is deep and the writing sprightly. Ryrie’s central argument is that unbelief existed as practice before it existed in theory, that moral intuitions counted much more heavily than philosophical arguments in the emergence of atheism, and that ‘an emotional history’ of anger at Christian authorities and anxiety arising from disputes internal to Christianity pointed the way to the rejection of traditional Christianity and open atheism of more recent centuries.—Mark Noll, coeditor of Protestantism after 500 Years

How has unbelief come to dominate so many Western societies? The usual account invokes the advance of science and rational knowledge. Ryrie’s alternative, in which emotions are the driving force, offers new and interesting insights into our past and present.—Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age

The brilliance of this book lies in its reimagining of an old debate stirred by Lucien Febvre and his many critics. Ryrie takes us beyond the slightly stale polemic of the leading theological figures of the early modern world to let us hear the voices of men and women who lived through the torrid age of religious change. In Unbelievers we encounter heart-wrenching expressions of faith and its absence with nuanced attention to words and modulations of emotions. We find preachers, female writers, dramatists, poets, and essayists who struggled daily with a religion that demanded faith. Ryrie rejects easy connections between their world and ours while offering an arresting consideration of how their voices shaped what came after them. Deep insights are leavened with characteristic wit and humor, making this book a crucial read for anyone thinking about religion in our time.—Bruce Gordon, author of Calvin

With wit and remarkable breadth of learning, Ryrie addresses an issue that touches us all.—Rev. John O’Malley, author of Vatican I

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