Even though the Enlightenment period is often characterized as the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment was an ideological and paradigm shift away from the philosophical belief in a theory known as rationalism: the thought that reason is the ultimately source of knowledge and truth…
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Instead of accepting religious principles as the rationalists defended them with deduction and pure reason, philosophers began to question anything that could not be ascertained with the senses. As a result, Christianity was adversely impacted by a wave of political secularization throughout Western Europe. Writers reviewed the integration of the Church and the State, moved to create a new democratic model of society, and in doing so changed the political future of the Western world.
The Enlightenment saw the creation of two approaches to religion in this period, after the rise of the empirical school of epistemology. On one hand, many thinkers adopted rational supernaturalism, which refers to the belief that Christian revelation could still be rationally defended. This can be reasoned by thinking of revelation as beyond the realm of rationality. These thinkers argued that miracles, as they are presented in the Bible, indicate the existence of a divinity like the Judeo-Christian God, but that reason and rational thinking are the only way one can come to believe in their existence and in their source (Lewis). Like other Christians, the rational supernaturalists believed several divine moral sanctions and divine principles could be produced from understanding revelation.
On the other hand, some more radical thinkers took up a position known as deism, which argues that after God created the universe, his involvement in human affairs has been minimal. Deists were generally hostile to the belief that revelation was beyond reason, and attributed most, if not all, of Christianity’s problems (as “superstitions”) on the belief that revelation reveals any essential doctrine about God. These changing attitudes coincide with shifts in the realm of science as well, with the start of a “scientific revolution” around this period focusing mainly on discoveries in the physical and astronomical sciences (Lewis). The ...
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