The ‘Christian Atheism’ of Thomas Hobbes
This chapter explores the overt expression of the religious ideas of Thomas Hobbes. His religious views expressed in Leviathan have been subjected to extensive debate. The discussion argues that, in his De cive, Hobbes subscribed to the tradition stretching from Italian humanism to the Enlightenment that allied essentially deistic philosophical attitudes with the advocacy of civil religion. Such ideas were quite orthodox, as seen from authors like Hugo Grotius and Henry Hammond, who combined such philosophy with the belief that the Church should have an authoritative role in the interpretation of the revealed truth. This chapter suggests that Hobbes's change in position should be read in the context of the state of affairs in England after the Civil War, when monarchial authority was toppled and many traditional values were brought into question.
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