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Toland And The Censorship Of Atheism

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Chapter Summary

Toland never affirmatively censured atheism. He merely made the objective observation that no civil society has ever tolerated atheists, and certainly never would: "But the atheists, Toland writes in his Adeisidaemon, ought never to hope for toleration in any condition." This chapter looks into the question of atheism as it appears in the brief critical passage in the Adeisidaemon. It elucidates the sense Toland gives to the idea of 'natural religion'. In most cases, he merely repeats the conventional Ciceronian formulae. In the Adeisidaemon, arguing against conventional apologetics, Toland concedes to Bayle the possibility of a 'virtuous atheist', even though he refuses to extend political tolerance to atheism. Toland himself agrees that it is rather contradictory to claim that atheism is both morally and politically superior to superstition and still deny it the official tolerance that he grants superstition.

Keywords: Adeisidaemon; censured atheism; Toland



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