Michael F. Graham

in The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748634262
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653454 | DOI:

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This concluding chapter talks about Thomas Aikenhead, a young man, living in the seventeenth century, a time when confessional orthodoxy was jealously guarded in that splintered sectarian landscape comprising western religion. It would be rash to argue that, had Aikenhead lived, he would have become a philosopher on a par with Baruch Spinoza; indeed, it is probably much more likely that he would have disappeared into obscurity and conventional Calvinism, perhaps later writing a spiritual autobiography in which he recalled his youthful flirtation with deism. But this was not to be; the timing of his brush with fame, in the crisis atmosphere of 1696, his lack of influential friends, and the determination of the authorities to demonstrate their own orthodoxy combined to usher him to the gallows. Anyone reading newspapers or following other media in recent years has probably noticed that blasphemy has resurfaced as an issue with global repercussions.

Keywords: Thomas Aikenhead; Calvinism; deism; blasphemy

Chapter.  3372 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies

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