By Alan Charles Kors
Although so much historians have sought the roots of atheism within the historical past of "free thought," Alan Charles Kors contends that assaults at the life of God have been generated peculiarly via the power and controversies of orthodox theistic tradition itself. during this first quantity of a deliberate two-volume inquiry into the assets and nature of atheism, he exhibits that orthodox academics and apologists in seventeenth-century France have been obliged via the common sense in their philosophical and pedagogical structures to create many types of speculative atheism for heuristic reasons. strange in its extensive sampling of the spiritual literature of the early-modern discovered global, this booklet finds that the "great fratricide" between bitterly competing faculties of Aristotelian, Cartesian, and Malebranchist Christian suggestion inspired theologians to refute each one other's proofs of God and to depict the guidelines in their theological competitors as atheistic. Such "fratricide" used to be no longer new within the historical past of Christendom, yet Kors demonstrates that its impression used to be dramatically amplified by way of the increasing literacy of the 17th century. shooting the eye of the examining public, theological debate supplied highbrow grounds for the disbelief of the 1st iteration of atheistic thinkers.
Originally released in 1990.
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Additional info for Atheism in France, 1650-1729: Volume I: The Orthodox Sources of Disbelief
Such overt rejection of Christianity, for Mersenne, was a station on that road to atheism initiated by Luther and Calvin. While primarily directed against the deists, Mersenne's treatise undertook to prove God against "the atheists," although, he confessed, it was astonishing to have to do so, given that everything in the universe bespoke the Divinity. "44 ι and n. , i, 158-61. 39 Marin Mersenne, Minim, Quaestiones celeberrimae in Genesim . . In hoc volumtne athei, et deistae impugnatur, et expugnatur .
Paris, 1943); J. S. Spink, French FreeThought from Gassendi to Voltaire (London, 1960); and D. P. Walker, The Ancient The ology: Studies in Christian Platonism from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century (Ithaca, 1972), 132-63. [After this book was completed, a new work by Michael J. , At the Origins of Modem Atheism (New Haven, 1987), was sent to me for review. Father Buckley already has illuminated some of the most difficult questions in the long-term history of philosophical theology (see his capacious and acute Motion and Motion's God: Thematic Variations in Aristotle, Cicero, Newton and Hegel [Princeton, 1971]).
58 It is important to understand, before turning to the seeming paradox of early-modern presentations of serious atheistic views, how widespread this insistence was that there could be no sincere atheistic belief. As PaulPhilippe de Chaumont, retired bishop of Acqs, assured his readers, per suasion of the existence of God was an "instinct" in all men, a "light independent of their reason," which was why it could be universal even among the unlettered; it was also irrefutably demonstrable. "59 Laurent Bordelon, man of letters and commentator on the an cients, conceded that there was merely virtual but not perfect universal consent to the existence of God, but argued that the exceptions were ei55 Frideric Spanheim, L'athie convaincu en quatre sermons sur Ies paroles du Pseaume XIV.
Atheism in France, 1650-1729: Volume I: The Orthodox Sources of Disbelief by Alan Charles Kors