Definitions and Accusations, 1670–1700: ‘Deism’ as a Term of Opprobrium

  • C. J. Betts
Part of the Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 104)


The novels of Foigny and Veiras, and some of Saint-Evremond’s writings, already show which general factors are of significance for the origins of French deism: the idea of natural religion, distinct from revelation; knowledge of foreign countries and their religions, gained from experience or books of travel; and the divisions between the Christian churches. Only as regards Foigny are all three factors operative. Veiras does not employ a concept of natural religion, still less does Saint-Evremond. All three have personal knowledge of the antagonism between Protestantism, in Switzerland, Holland or England, and Catholicism in France. Foigny and Veiras depend on travel books for much of the background detail in their works. However, in none of the three do we find deism pure and simple, since sooner or later they fall back on the religion of the nation-state, as exemplified by Genevan Calvinism, French Catholicism, Anglicanism or, in fiction, the religion of Sévarambe.


Natural Theology Christian Belief Christian Religion Natural Religion Religious Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1984

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  • C. J. Betts

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