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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter charts the relationship between scripture and the anti-atheist writings of the seventeenth century. It was legally impossible to declare one’s atheism openly, but atheist views were framed and explored in literature, particularly in the drama, where atheist characters can be safely killed, made to look foolish, or repent for the views they have expressed. This chapter first explores the misquotation or denying of the Bible in the drama, and other literary forms, where such a position is deniable as an expression of the author’s own beliefs. It moves on to examine how atheism is voiced in the anti-atheist literature. In many cases, writers against atheism studiously avoid drawing on the Bible, preferring to argue from Nature or philosophy. Where they do occur, appeals to the Bible cluster around key texts, especially Psalm 14 and Romans 1: 18–22, which resonate across a range of literary and theological writings.

Keywords: atheism, unbelief, uses of scripture, natural philosophy

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