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Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment$
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Michael Hunter and David Wootton

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198227366

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198227366.001.0001

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The Charge of Atheism and the Language of Radical Speculation, 1640–1660

The Charge of Atheism and the Language of Radical Speculation, 1640–1660

(p.131) 5 The Charge of Atheism and the Language of Radical Speculation, 1640–1660
Atheism from the Reformation to the Enlightenment

Nigel Smith

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the relationship between atheism and the religious heterodoxy of the period. It illustrates the danger of accepting conflations of differing positions made by hostile contemporaries, and the tendency of historians to secularize essentially religious thinkers. It examines the extent to which some radical figures picked up ideas which had similarities to the arguments against religion explained in this book. Such ideas were Laurence Clarkson's pantheism, overlapping with deistic views of the eighteenth century; Richard Overton's mortalism; and William Walwyn's indebtedness to Montaigne and Charron and the skeptical crisis. The chapter also comments on the interchange of popular ideas in the context of the wide speculation that characterized English thought during the Interregnum.

Keywords:   Clarkson, pantheism, Overton, mortalism, Walwyn, Interregnum

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