William Godwin's Religious Sense


  • rowland weston is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. His research interests include William Godwin, historiography and historiophoty.


The anarchist philosopher, novelist and historian William Godwin (1756-1836) began life in a devout Dissenting or nonconformist family. As a young man he trained for the ministry, before losing his faith and turning atheist in 1792. Over the subsequent years of his long life Godwin continued to ponder the moral value of religious belief in general and of Christianity in particular. In his later religious writings Godwin insists that myth, superstition and religious belief are not intrinsically defective but are problematic only to the extent to which they undermine personal integrity and social solidarity.