This publication offers a critical survey of religious change and its causes in 18th-century Europe. It is intended to constitute a radical challenge to the accepted views in traditional Enlightenment studies. Focusing on Enlightenment Italy, France and England, the text illustrates how the canonical view of 18th-century religious change has in reality been constructed upon scant evidence and assumption, in particular the idea that the thought of the enlightened led to modernity. For despite a lack of evidence, one of the fundamental assumptions of Enlightenment studies has been the assertion that there was a vibrant deist movement that formed the "intellectual solvent" of hte 18th century.;The central claim of this book is that the immense ideological appeal of the traditional birth-of-modernity myth has meant that the actual lack of deists has been glossed over and a quite misleading historical view has become entrenched. As a consequence more traditional forces for religious change have been given little or no attention. The book also riases hitherto neglected fundamental methodological issues relating to the study of the 18th century and the ability of "interested" contemporaries to mislead posterity.;Given the pervasive topicality of notions of modernity and postmodernity in academia, this book advances an important discussion and should be valuable reading for all students studying the period.