Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt
by Alec Ryrie 2019

About the Author
Alec Ryrie graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in history and received a doctorate in theology from Oxford University. He is the author of the prizewinning Being Protestant in Reformation Britain and The Sorcerers Tale: Faith and Fraud in Tudor England.

About the Book
“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

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

“Ryrie doesn’t debunk; he describes. He traffics in empathy, not criticism…For those looking to make sense of [atheism], Unbelievers will serve as an outstanding guide.”―Andrew Wilson, Gospel Coalition

Why have societies that were once overwhelmingly Christian become so secular? We think we know the answer, pointing to science and reason as the twin culprits, but in this lively, startlingly original reconsideration, Alec Ryrie argues that people embraced unbelief much as they have always chosen their worldviews: through the heart more than the mind.

Looking back to the crisis of the Reformation and beyond, he shows how, long before philosophers started to make the case for atheism, powerful cultural currents were challenging traditional faith. As Protestant radicals eroded time-honored certainties and ushered in an age of anger and anxiety, some defended their faith by redefining it in terms of ethics, setting in motion secularizing forces that soon became transformational. Unbelievers tells a powerful emotional history of doubt with potent lessons for our own angry and anxious times.

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