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Paradise MislaidHow We Lost Heaven and How We Can Regain It$
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Jeffrey Burton Russell

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195334586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334586.001.0001

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(p.43) Chapter 3 Enchantment
Paradise Mislaid

Jeffrey Burton Russell

Oxford University Press

The “Enlightenment” of the eighteenth century, when materialism increasingly displaced spirituality and disenchanted the cosmos, produced even broader challenges to Christian heaven than had the seventeenth. The “light” of the eighteenth century was reason and wit. The basic axioms were that all knowledge is of natural events and objects; that the supernatural does not exist; and that heaven, therefore, does not exist. If God exists, he does so only as an abstract prime mover. This chapter examines the origin of such axioms and how they came, by the end of the century, to command wide philosophical acceptance and the beginnings of popular acquiescence. The widespread atheism and agnosticism of the early twenty-first century are ultimately products of eighteenth-century skepticism, which failed to be sufficiently skeptical of its own skepticism.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, skepticism, atheism, physicalism, David Hume, Immanuel Kant

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