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Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America (New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History) Paperback – August 1, 1986
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Turner's treatment of the nineteenth century is excellent and often brilliantly perceptive.(Robert Nisbet The New York Times Book Review)
A crafted, intelligent book. The prose is remarkably clear, as is the argument. Turner offers us intellectual history in something like the grand manner.(David D. Hall Reviews in American History)
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This is not a tract against the Church, though. It is very clearly written to show how those events and beliefs which undermined the legitimacy of the Church were not necessarily bad; it was the Church who made them so. For example, scientific discovery in itself was not bad, but the Church before the scientific revolution had based its legitimacy so strongly on the literal account of Creation, for example, that when there was doubt thrown on that theory, everything began to crumble.
Turner is pretty much done with his story by the mid 1800s, before Darwin's _Origin of Species_ was published. Contrary to popular imagination, Darwin's theory was not particularly groundbreaking in the case for atheism; the groundwork had already been set.
This book is not difficult to read at all, yet it tackles some tough subject material. Highly recommended for readers of all scientific and religious backgrounds.
Part One: Modern Belief, 1500 - 1865
1. A New Age
2. Enlightenment and Belief, 1690 - 1790
3. A God of Mind and Heart, 1790 - 1850
4. Belief and Social Change
5. Christianity Confused
Part Two: Modern Unbelief, 1865 - 1890
6. The Intellectual Crisis of Belief
7. The Immorality of Belief
8. A More Excellent Way
9. Sanctity Without Godliness
Turner presents his theme in the preface. "Religion caused unbelief in trying to adapt their religious beliefs to socioeconomic change, to new moral challanges, to novel problems of knowledge, to the tightening standards of society, the defenders of God slowly strangled him. If anyone is to be arraigned for decide, it is not Charles Darwin but his adversary Bishop Samuel Wilberforce." (xiii) The balance of the work starts with the end of the Middle Ages and moves forward to the nineteenth century to present a basis for this idea.
Mentions when Pascal "on the night of 23 November 1654, gave up the God of the philosophers for the God of Abraham and Isaac, he personified the key religious problem of his age." (28) This choice of between the Scientific God and the Bibical God creates tension that did not exist earlier. This book narrates a description of the outworking that is still with us.
Turner includes an Epilogue. "Thinking about God had moved away from the nonhuman and transcendent, toward the human and worldly. And it is this new posture toward God, the growing worldliness of belief, that crop up more often than anything else when one tries to explain unbelief.Read more ›
Turner alleges that non-theism "emerged" as a cultural alternative only after the middle of the 19th century. He states that "atheism" was almost non-existent in Europe and America before the last third of that century. These ideas require him to minimize the extent of skeptical and non-theistic thought and writings. Later works, such as the anthology "Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment" (edited by Michael Hunter and David Wootton) and David Berman's "A History of Atheism in Britain," demonstrate that non-theistic thinking in Europe was earlier and more extensive than Turner perceives. Frankly non-theistic (not merely skeptical or agnostic) works started to appear in the first third of the 18th century. During the last third of that century multiple such books were published and disseminated, despite grave risks to everyone involved. (Non-theism is inseparably connected with the struggle to win freedom of thought and speech and freedom of religion, but this subject is outside Turner's purview.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America" was recommended to me by the late Charles Colson while mentoring under him at Breakpoints-The Centurion... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Sue
Had to read this for a class at a Christian college, and it was probably the best book of the semester. It was very informative and fun to read. Read morePublished on April 15, 2013 by Riley
If you want a concise and well put together articulation of how atheism and agnosticism developed as acceptable world views, then you must read this book.Published on November 19, 2012 by cody stanley