Atheism in ancient Greece

7:30 pm Thursday 7 June 2018The King's Arms
This month, we have Dr James Ford of the University of Manchester's School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures, telling us about the history of atheism. The talk will focus on Ancient Greece but his expertise is wider so feel free to ask about other cultures and periods in the Q&A.

Was atheism in the ancient world really ‘scarcely imaginable’, as Professor Tom Harrison recently put it? Was religion simply embedded in the environment and mentality of the ancient Greeks to the extent that atheism became cognitively impossible? This presentation will cover the hard evidence for atheism in the ancient world, and argue that atheism in ancient Greece was a highly contextual, varied, and flourishing set of phenomena. Understanding the form and evolution of atheistic ideas and atheism in Greek society is invaluable in helping us more fully understand Greek religion, not least because it was in response to and through opposition to atheism that Greek religious beliefs evolved and Greeks developed their own sense of collective and individual religious identity.