Free thinking: the atheist mission in the 19th century

Course Dates: 22/02/20
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Peter Street

Atheism in Britain pre-dates the 19th century but it was only then that it went on the offensive. The course explores why/how this was so alongside related diverse responses, legislation and wider political/cultural change.


What is the course about?

The course explores the changing status of atheism during the 19th century and the rationale for this together with how this belief was popularised and received together with its lasting impact. It also explores attitudes towards and laws relating to blasphemy, the emergence of secularism and the development of agnosticism.

What will we cover?

How the law upheld the Anglican State and protected the Christian faith in the early 19th century
Dismantling the edifice: expanding citizenship
Challenging the faith (1) Christianity as an immoral religion and (2) the testimony of the rocks
Atheism on the offensive; secularism; agnosticism
Mission accomplished?

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- How the law upheld the Anglican State and protected the Christian faith in the early 19th century together with why/how the situation for both changed over the course of the 19th century;
- the challenges which Christianity faced, especially from the 1830s, and the confidence from at least mid century of those championing atheism;
- how this was done and the consequent reactions;
- the promotion of secularism and agnosticism in and from 1860s;
- Atheism in Britain at the end of the 19th century.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an introductory course. No previous knowledge is required.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be delivered through a mixture of formal input and discussion with student participation encouraged.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs; requisites for optional note taking.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in Peter Street's upcoming religion and belief courses - 'In pursuit of peace': women and the peace movement in Britain from the Crimean War to Greenham Common (HRS12) and 'Upholding Christian civilisation?': religion, waging war and reconstructing society in Britain, 1939 - 1945 (HRS38).

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HRS10

Sat, day, 22 Feb - 22 Feb '20

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £29.00
Senior fee: £23.00
Concession: £15.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.