CC 300 CX - Skepticism, Criticism, and Faith in Early Modern Europe
3 Credits
TR 1:30-2:45 pm - Professor Rittgers
Cross-listed with THEO 329BX and HIST 492CX
Fulfills upper level theology requirement

The Protestant Reformation created a “truth crisis” in early modern Europe (ca. 1500-ca. 1800). Christian theologians made multiple competing and contradictory claims about God and the divine will for human life, leaving at least some people uncertain about where truth lay in matters of ultimate importance. How could one be sure of one’s religious beliefs and practices now that there were several versions of Christianity on the scene that disagreed sharply with one another over important doctrinal matters? Ironically, the movement that began as an attempt to reform religion wound up raising large questions about the possibility of religious knowledge. This course will examine three important responses to the Reformation truth crisis: the revival of ancient skepticism, the development of a new kind of rational certainty, and the attempt to defend traditional Christian faith in the new intellectual context. The course will undertake this analysis through a careful study of three pivotal European intellectuals: Michel de Montaigne, René Descartes, and Blaise Pascal. Students will not only learn about historical responses to the early modern truth crisis, but also be invited to evaluate these responses for themselves.