Spiekermann, Björn: Der Gottlose
Geschichte eines Feindbilds in der Frühen Neuzeit
We know of atheists in today's literal sense since about 1650, when clandestine atheistic manuscripts first began to circulate. But atheism was thought and written about already long before – and would continue that way for long after the fact. Consequentially, theologians, philosophers, naturalists, political thinkers and poets from the 16th to the 18th century felt compelled to warn of the dangers of unbelief. But that's not all: Upon taking a closer look at authors and texts, it will be noticed that many people who wrote against atheists, freethinkers or so-called godless people otherwise held highly modern views. Some were even attacked as atheists themselves. This gives rise to the suspicion that “godlessness” is anything but a precise and unequivocal term, but a rather vague concept of the enemy that could serve very different purposes – even the defense of tolerance and science. This thesis is examined in numerous individual analyses on texts from Luther to Leibniz, from Bacon to Brockes, from Grotius to Gottsched. The result is a discourse history of unbelief and a new picture of how heterodoxy and religious dissenters were dealt with in the early modern period.
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