Knowledge and Belief in America: Enlightenment Traditions and Modern Religious Thought

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The Enlightenment values of individual autonomy, democracy, and secularizing reason conflict with the religious traditions of community, authority, and traditional learning. Yet in American history the two heritages have been intertwined since the colonial era: the development of the Enlightenment has been influenced by community-based thinking and religious institutions have adopted to an extent critical methods and a democratic ethos even within their own walls. This volume unites the work of a distinguished group of theologians, historians, literary critics, and philosophers to explore the interaction between Enlightenment ideals and American religion. The Enlightenment's effect on the major religious traditions, including the Catholic Church, Evangelical Protestantism, and Judaism, is examined. Also highlighted is religion in the thinking of such representative figures as Edwards, Franklin, Emerson, Lincoln, Santayana, and the Pragmatists, Stevens and Eliot.