How Did Voltaire Contribute To The Enlightenment

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Voltaire I found the section in our textbook on Voltaire, even though it was quite short, very interesting. In some ways he is a figurehead of Enlightenment thinking as shown through his contributions to Encyclopedia and Elements of the Philosophy of Newton, as well as many others written works. The titles satirist, deist and hater of intolerance are commonly used to describe him, but the man Voltaire was much more complicated then can be judged from his writings. Born Francois-Marie Arouet, Voltaire was educated by Jesuits, but as he grew his works became increasingly anti-institutional. Viewing Christianity and specifically the Catholic Church as “institutions” that promoted intolerance, many of his works openly attacked Catholic teachings, and even Christ himself. As a Deist he wrote in support of natural religion and …show more content…

He was known to attend Mass regularly, requested a Catholic burial and held pious Pope Benedict XIV in great admiration. I find this disconnect quite fascinating. I think it reflects the struggle that many people have which reconciling reason and God. Voltaire believed that it was only through reason that humans could know right and wrong, but could not acknowledge that God, in His very essence embodies reason. Part of this difficulty could stem from the reality that the Catholic Church has often misrepresented Christ, manipulating and hurting many because of human weakness and sin. The question arises, why would reasonable God identify Himself with such brokeness? Yet there is something deeply attractive about the mercy that shines through the broken cracks of the Church's history, that mystery of the Incarnation that calls us beyond our questions. In my musings, I conclude that maybe it was this that drew Voltaire to the Catholic Church beyond what he thought was

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