By Michael J. Buckley
During this publication, Michael J. Buckley investigates the increase of recent atheism, arguing convincingly that its roots succeed in again to the 17th century, whilst Catholic theologians started to name upon philosophy and science-rather than any intrinsically non secular experience-to protect the lifestyles of god. Buckley discusses intimately thinkers equivalent to Lessius, Mersenne, Descartes, and Newton, who prepared the ground for the specific atheism of Diderot and D'Holbach within the eighteenth century. "[A] capaciously realized and brilliantly written book....This is likely one of the finest and heavily argued works on theology that i've got learn within the final decade."-Lawrence S. Cunningham, Theology at the present time
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Extra info for At the Origins of Modern Atheism
History seems in this sense to be the laboratory for ideas and assumptions. What lies hidden in the presuppositions only develops as the conversation continues; what is false or misleading is often recognized only when a hypothesis finally fathers a conclusion that is untenable. The history of philosophy or the history of theology in this sense is part of philosophy or theology in a distinctive manner. The verification principle for theoretic investigations often lies in the irreversible sequel of their presuppositions— not that these can be established as true by their conclusions, but they can be Introduction 27 established as false by them.
Tradition confronts the present with a depth that nothing less settled can match. This is deeply true of theological reflection. One does not reach back into 36 Introduction the past to resurrect figures and arguments. Vital traditions are the situations of the present. Tradition is the contemporary presence of the past. It forms, as it surrounds, both the issues which are raised and the subject who questions. Theology and its research always stand within a tradition, not at a distance from it.
The twofold task of this book, then, is to trace out the origin of this atheistic tradition, or origin which is its transition from theism to atheism, and to understand its theological significance. "1 The vectors which Gay charts are certainly there, but the distinction may be somewhat too neat, too overdrawn. Among his second-generation thinkers, only Diderot moved into unequivocal atheism, while d'Holbach attacked all forms of religious convictions as the Enlightenment ran its course. If Gay's matrix might be modified in a search for a pattern in this extraordinary rush of European intellectualism, it does evoke something of the character inherent in the Enlightenment.