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Faith and Its CriticsA Conversation$
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David Fergusson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199569380

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199569380.001.0001

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Atheism in Historical Perspective

Atheism in Historical Perspective

(p.15) 1 Atheism in Historical Perspective
Faith and Its Critics

David Fergusson

Oxford University Press

Atheism is a term of disputed meanings. In the ancient world, thinkers as divergent as Socrates and Justin Martyr were charged with atheism, yet both were far from being atheists in the contemporary sense of that term. In the west, atheism is associated with the rejection of the God of the Christian faith. The causes of atheism in the modern world are generally located in the culture of the Renaissance and Reformation in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is claimed that with the rise of modern science, the place for divine action and influence in the world was marginalised. Meanwhile, the term ‘agnosticism’ is used to describe a position in which belief in the existence or non-existence of God is suspended.

Keywords:   atheism, agnosticism, Socrates, Justin Martyr, Hume, Reformation

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