Sunday, June 09, 2019

Catholicism and atheism

In my experience, some Catholic apologists allege that the Protestant Reformation is responsible for the secularization of Europe. Now, historical causation is complex, so I seriously doubt there's any one thing driving the secularization of Europe, but to address the allegation on its own grouds, I think we could turn it around. Modern European history isn't my area of expertise (same applies to the average Catholic apologist), but it's my impression that anticlericalism fueled atheism. Not that atheism fueled anticlericalism, but the reverse. Many Europeans, especially among the intellectual elite, were so disgusted by the scandalous venality of the Catholic hierarchy and the heavy-handed policies of the papacy that it provoked anticlericalism, which was, in turn, a bridge to the secularization of Europe. 


  1. I’m always skeptical of these grand historical narratives about secularization. So what? We can show that person x had idea y, which his later student modified to idea z. That doesn’t mean that idea y was unsound, it just means some bonehead used the idea in an improper way.

  2. For instance, the argument that sola scriptura led to interpretive anarchy (and some accounts enlightenment skepticism)... as if skepticism follows necessarily, if there is the slightest possibility of error in interpreting a document.

  3. I would say that its pretty accurate, especially in the case of the French Revolution. At that time most of the Protestants were gone due to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.