By Alan Charles Kors

Atheism used to be the main foundational problem to early-modern French certainties. Theologians and philosophers labelled such atheism as absurd, convinced that neither the actual fact nor behaviour of nature used to be explicable regardless of God. the choice used to be a express naturalism, whose such a lot severe shape used to be Epicureanism. The dynamics of the Christian realized international, even though, which this booklet explains, allowed the huge dissemination of the Epicurean argument. by way of the tip of the 17th century, atheism completed genuine voice and existence. This booklet examines the Epicurean inheritance and explains what constituted genuine atheistic pondering in early-modern France, distinguishing such specific unbelief from different demanding situations to orthodox ideals. with out realizing the particular context and convergence of the inheritance, scholarship, protocols, and polemical modes of orthodox tradition, the early-modern iteration and dissemination of atheism are inexplicable. This publication brings to existence either early-modern French Christian realized tradition and the atheists who emerged from its highbrow power.

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403, 410–11. , 407–08. , 427. 95 When Marolles discussed book V of De rerum natura, Lucretius’s theoretical and substantive assault upon the idea of providence, he responded with a mixture of avowed confusion about certain meanings, of explications of what he thought clear in Lucretius, and of recourse to Christian faith as that which answered the most troubling Epicurean questions. ”97 He almost made it seem as if it were only revelation and grace that established this foundation of Christian theism.

Rather than act from fear in inquiries into the reasons of the gods, we could gain natural explanations of climate, volcanoes, and diseases. 77 However heterodox such a text might appear to Christian readers – and recall that it was above all the self-confidence and learned curiosity of those readers which created the publication of and audience for Lucretius in early-modern France – all of its ideas, formulations, and arguments were a widely disseminated part of their intellectual inheritance and a common point of reference within their classical knowledge.

Reading Epicurus 35 inquiries,” but the Christian had a faith beyond philosophical assault. In the context of their times, of pagan polytheism, Epicurus and Lucretius could be thoroughly excused for having contested the power of and governance of world by such false gods. ” The Christian did not expect the world to make philosophical sense, knowing that since the Fall, we were in “a perpetual uncertainty” unless, as Saint Augustine observed, we make “divine authority” and “holy tradition” our rule.

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