The English Enlightenment represented innovation in technology, advancement of communication, and the destruction of absolutism, all of which significantly affected American culture. Scientific discoveries in Europe, mainly cultivated by Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Copernicus, served as the pinnacles of scientific rationalism, or the science that provides answers to questions reached through human inquiry, not scriptures of the Bible. These findings went completely against religious ideals of the era, one example being the discovery of craters on the moon, which proved that all things created by God are not perfect. The printing press allowed scientific ideas to be effectively spread across the world. The upset of religion by science extended throughout Europe, into Britain, and eventually to the American colonies. As religious beliefs were replaced by scientific fact, universities in North America grew and became secular. In Europe, absolute monarchs were ousted and established churches were denied the right to have hierarchical power. The rise of science was reflected by new political ideas as well. Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws, Rousseau’s The Social Contract, and John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government justified the ostracism of absolute monarchs through the principle of government based on social contracts, not divine rights. The social contract was created to protect what Locke described as the Natural Rights of Man- life, liberty, and pr...
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...ing shattered denominational loyalties and allowed Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists to leap ahead of all other Protestant rivals after 1780. It also destroyed the systems of established churches and recognized hierarchies, and replaced them with Evangelicalism, which mainly consisted of missionary work and reporting conversion experiences to others. The Great Awakening and westward expansion provided the American colonies with a few characteristics that led to the development of an American culture that distinguished it from British culture.
Ideas from the Enlightenment in Britain and the lasting effects of Anglicization in the American colonies ultimately caused American culture to be founded on British beliefs, yet westward expansion and the Great Awakening provided additional American ideals as well, which made American culture indistinct from Britain.
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