The rise of secularism and atheism is often presented as a story of science, philosophy and freethinking. But what if it is instead a story of emotion, anger and anxiety? What if we choose unbelief just as intuitively and instinctively as we choose faith?

Drawing on his new book, Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt, and chaired by Theos researcher, Madeleine Ward, Prof. Alec Ryrie looks at how the West came to lose its faith. Rather than an attempt to debunk atheism, or to explain its rise ‘scientifically’, he argues that we can’t understand belief, unbelief or the ‘secular’ world around us without understand that the role of the hearts as well as the head.

Alec Ryrie is the author of Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt(2019), and of numerous other books including Protestants: The Faith that Made the Modern World (2017) and the prizewinning Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (2013). He is Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University, Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, co-editor of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History and a Fellow of the British Academy. He has had numerous radio and TV appearances and has written for the Wall Street Journal, Daily Telegraph,,, Foreign Affairs, History Today, BBC History, Church Times and many other outlets.

Church House Bookshop will be selling books during the evening.

Doors will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start – please bring your ticket. Q&A and drinks/nibbles will follow the discussion.

Our building, unfortunately, is not step-free – please email us for further information if needed.

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