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Professor Alec Ryrie came from Durham to read a paper at the seminar on 'Faith, Doubt, and the Problem of Atheism in Reformation Britain'. Drawing on a rich body of material he argued very convincingly that the concept of atheism was used in a wider range of ways in early modern Britain than has previously been recognised. Still more intriguingly, he proposed that not only was the accusation of atheism (as 'unbelief') a potent weapon in Christian theological controversy, but that Reformation conceptions of 'assurance' almost structurally generated temptations to doubt, unbelief, and atheism in the hearts of those who were often the most sincere Protestants.

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