By Michael J. Buckley

During this publication, Michael J. Buckley investigates the increase of recent atheism, arguing convincingly that its roots achieve again to the 17th century, while Catholic theologians started to name upon philosophy and science-rather than any intrinsically non secular experience-to shield the lifestyles of god. Buckley discusses intimately thinkers akin to Lessius, Mersenne, Descartes, and Newton, who cleared the path for the categorical atheism of Diderot and D'Holbach within the eighteenth century. "[A] capaciously discovered and brilliantly written book....This is without doubt one of the best 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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To insist upon the critical importance of Christ is to encourage atheism. Only one-sixth of the known world is Christian. To affirm revelation as necessary for the knowledge of god is to deny human beings that awareness which underlies the argument from universal consent. " Jefferson, who numbers the disciples of Spinoza, Diderot, and d'Holbach among his atheists, shows here an inexplicable innocence of the history of Catholic theology, an innocence rendered more puzzling by his accurate citation of Cardinal Toledo's commentary on Aquinas in the same lengthy paragraph.

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. Who does or does not belong to the Enlightenment is arbitrary enough—with the exclusion of such figures as Samuel Johnson, Haydn, Mozart, Boscovich, Wolff, and Edmund Burke because of their sympathy with Christianity. It is one thing, however, to define the movement somewhat operationally as an anti-Christian army whose primary analogue is taken from the French philosophes, the "modern pagans" in Gay's felicitous phrase; it is quite another thing to find their generals increasingly godless.

Now Nietzsche spelled out the precise meaning which this striking parable carried: "The greatest recent event—that 'God is dead/ that the belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable—is already beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe. "72 In England, the aging Newman felt the same drawing on of night, the same shadow lengthening over what had once been Christian civilization. In the Apologia Pro Vita Suay he wrote of the religious disintegration of Europe: "In these latter days, in like manner, outside of the Catholic Church, things are tending,—with far greater rapidity than in that old time from the circumstance of the age,—to atheism in one shape or another.

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