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God in the Enlightenment$
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William J. Bulman and Robert G. Ingram

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190267070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190267070.001.0001

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Reason and Utility in French Religious Apologetics

Reason and Utility in French Religious Apologetics

(p.63) 2 Reason and Utility in French Religious Apologetics
God in the Enlightenment

Anton Matytsin

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the transformation in the form and content of religious apologetic works in eighteenth-century France. Despite the growing polarization of the intellectual climate, the critics of the philosophes often adapted their arguments to secular and naturalist currents of the Enlightenment. Catholic and Protestant antiphilosophes attempted to defend Christianity before the tribunal of reason. They did so by appealing to the claims of natural religion and by stressing the practical utility of religious belief for political and social life. The growing emphasis on the reasonableness and utility of Christianity reveal the complex relationship between faith and reason in the French Enlightenment and show that religious thinkers were quite flexible in modifying their arguments to the naturalist and secular trends of eighteenth-century thought.

Keywords:   antiphilosophes, philosophes, secular, utility, natural religion

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