Home / Events / Upcoming events

Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt

Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt

In this upcoming lunchtime event, Prof. Alec Ryrie and Madeleine Pennington discuss his latest book, and explore the history of unbelief.

You can watch the recording of this event here: 

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?

Join us for this hour–long lunchtime event on Alec Ryrie’s latest book, Unbelievers: An Emotional History of Doubt, chaired by Theos Head of Research, Madeleine Pennington. 

Prof. Alec Ryrie will look at how the West came to lose its faith, and 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 understanding the role of the heart 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.


Tuesday 19th October

12:30pm start, 1.30pm finish.

Interested in this? Share it on social media. Join our monthly e–newsletter to keep up to date with our latest research and events. And check out our Supporter Programme to find out how you can help our work.


See all

In the news

See all


See all

Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.

Get regular email updates on our latest research and events.

Please confirm your subscription in the email we have sent you.

Want to keep up to date with the latest news, reports, blogs and events from Theos? Get updates direct to your inbox once or twice a month.

Thank you for signing up.