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The Birth of Modern Belief$
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Ethan H. Shagan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174747.001.0001

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The Birth Pangs of Modern Belief

The Birth Pangs of Modern Belief

(p.166) Chapter Five The Birth Pangs of Modern Belief
The Birth of Modern Belief

Ethan H. Shagan

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how, by the eighteenth century, belief was already associated with sound and judicious consideration, and the struggle to believe correctly was no longer simply about defeating the gathering forces of evil, it could also be about overcoming the forces of intolerance that seek to corrupt human judgment. The chapter traces how this transformation began, mapping the reaction against the confessional project of belief that had defined the sixteenth century, and sketching the intellectual resources that allowed an alternative project to replace it. This first stage is the so-called “birth pangs” because modern belief enjoyed neither a peaceful nor an easy delivery.

Keywords:   belief, evil, human judgment, birth pangs, modern belief, eighteenth century

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