"A crafted, intelligent book. The prose is remarkably clear, as is the argument. Turner offers us intellectual history in something like the grand manner." -- Reviews in American History"A crafted, intelligent book. The prose is remarkably clear, as is the argument. Turner offers us intellectual history in something like the grand manner." -- Reviews in American HistoryRead Less
New. This item is printed on demand. Until the 19th century, atheism and agnosticism were viewed as bizarre aberrations. But atheism emerged as a viable alternative to other ideologies. How and why it became possible is the subject of this cultural revolution.
New. Until little more than a century ago, virtually everyone within the orbit of European culture agreed that a superhuman power was somehow responsible for the universe and that this fact determined the purpose of life. Now, unbelief is a widespread and normal phenomenon. In order to understand our own thinking, our public intellectual life, we must know how this unbelief became possible. Scholars have usually identified science and socio-economic changes (Renaissance and Enlightenment skepticism, the effects of Biblical criticism, Darwinism's impact, scientific naturalism, the implications of post-Cartesian philosophy) as those elements that worked to undermine belief in God. However, Turner, like Buckley (At the Origins of Modern Atheism) finds a contrary reason operating underneath the issues mentioned, and says, ''religion caused unbelief. '' Out of the very strategies employed to counter the denial of God, the available ideas of unbelief evolved. Like Buckley, Turner examines carefully the thought of major theorists in varied situations to illumine the spreading foundation of unbelief, but Turner narrows his focus to America from 1500 through 1890. This divides the book into two sections: the first, dealing with 1500-1850, sketches the changes in religion that laid the foundation of unbelief; the second (1865-90) traces the actual emergence of unbelief, the years in which it achieved its mature form. This focus offers the reader a nuanced sense of the ''subtle interworkings of the ideas and attitudes that led to unbelief. ''
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