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Chapter Summary

With his belief in the superiority of faith over negation, the aged Emerson could stand up to the threat of atheism and pessimism. To some extent, Emerson's work constituted a refutation of atheism. Today practical atheism has developed into religious indifference. Religious faith is not so much rejected as judged to be without consequences. Emerson fought against the supernatural God of historical Christianity, but he still arrived at a faith in the "God within". The Emersonian insistence on the "God within" paved the way for a non-religious interpretation of religious consciousness, transforming theology into anthropology a transformation finally made explicit by Feuerbach. Brownson acutely sensed in Emerson's Transcendentalism the danger of an anthropological account of Christianity. To eliminate all transcendence and believe in a spiritual God operative in man was to follow the road to a "religion without God".

Keywords: atheism; Feuerbach; God of historical Christianity; religion without God; Transcendentalism



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