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The Blasphemies of Thomas AikenheadBoundaries of Belief on the Eve of the Enlightenment$
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Michael F. Graham

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748634262

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748634262.001.0001

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(p.155) Conclusion
The Blasphemies of Thomas Aikenhead

Michael F. Graham

Edinburgh University Press

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

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