I guess I was coming from a slightly different angle. Essentially,I'm suggesting that the middle ages wasn't like living in a town in the Bible Belt today. Religious matters were in a sense less important and more mundane, even if by comparison to the modern world they were more socially extensive.
There are condemnations, for example, of people flirting, drinking and playing dice in the churches during sermons. So you have a scenario in which the front end, where the great and the good sit, is all staid and respectful, and at the back its got more of a tavern atmosphere. Similarly people wearing their sunday best weren't doing so to impress god, but to impress their neighbours. When Drake, IIRC, returned from one of his adventures while the service was being delivered, there were first whispered rumours and then a general exodus to the quayside.
All of which means that religious observance as such didn't necessarily translate hugely into reverence for religion or the church. I think it would be quite possible for people to go through all these motions and never "take jesus into their heart" as they say. And this the clergy knew, which was why they made such a big deal of lurid illustrations of hell.
Porbably most people regard themselves as christian, hold to most of the tenets of faith without thinking about them too hard. But is that much different to the sort of lax practice that is fairly common today? I'm not sure that it is. And so I think there is quite a lot of room for people to hold themselves at quite a distance, intellectually, from the faith. Maybe they just personally don't have that much exposure to it, or because they have more immediate things to worry about, or because overarching theories of that type don't grab them, or because they experience the priesthood as hypocritical and venal. Those grapsing landlord priests weren't necessarily much good at actually preaching, and many of the lesser ranks couldn't read the bible themselves either.
So I don't theink the range of responses is necessarily hugely different to today. The difference is mostly that there's nothing else to replace it with; there is no non-religious way of understanding the world. So even if there are rejectionist skeptics, they occur as isolated individuals, with no way of spreading their argument or viewpoint, and so they have little or no impact, and leave no record.
Some maybe useful links:
Complete Index of Entries
Search for a Post or Comment
Search the Forge Forums