The first and most noticeable theme is religion; this is a key issue in the Enlightenment. The period was marked with growing anti-clerical sentiments, as the proclamations of religious clergy imposed great restrictions on the life of common people. This anti-clerical sentiment was not necessarily an attack on the existence of God, but an objection to organized religion. Similar to other scholars of his time, Voltaire was a deist; he believed in God on the basis of natural, logical conclusions not supernatural inspiration. Using Christianity as a reference point, he discusses the basis of religious intolerance. His writings show us the hypocritical nature of Christians in Europe, and the negative effects of their refusal to accommodate others.
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In conclusion, the Enlightenment was vital to the American Revolution and the creation of American Government. The Enlightenment beliefs that influenced the American Revolution were natural rights, the social contract, and the right to overthrow the government if the social contract was violated. The Enlightenment beliefs that aided to the creation of the American government were separation of powers, checks and balances, and limited government. As stated before, without the Enlightenment there would not have been a revolution, resulting in no American Government. The Enlightenment’s influence on the creation of America is irrefutable.
The French Enlightened philosophe Voltaire opposed religion as he saw it slow down scientific progression and new ideals. He also viewed it to be a fault on rationality, explaining the thinking of religious individuals to be flawed (Document 3). This thinking influenced much of Europe, and therefore controlled the way in which individuals would
Because of the Reformation, many religious wars were occurring, and monarchs like Philip II “… believed that it was his duty to defend Catholicism against the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire and the Protestants of Europe.” (Pg. 591) Philosopher Voltaire argued for many freedoms. Many of them included the freedom of religion, he said, “… Christians should tolerate each other” (Doc 7). He also fought for other rights as well, Voltaire also fought for freedom of speech and press.
Voltaire was a French writer during the Enlightenment period, who published over 70 essay’s having to do with philosophy and drama. He was one of the first people to believe that despite someone’s religion everyone should be accepted in society. “I say we should regard all men as our brothers...are we not all children of the same father and creature of the same God?” (Document 5). Voltaire expressed his understanding for the Christians not wanting to accept his beliefs.
Voltaire’s main belief was that people should be allowed to make their own decision in choosing religion. He stated that if a kingdom would have only one religion, it would be forced and autocratic. If the government had two religions, it would cause the people to fight, so Voltaire believed there should be more than one religions, and the people should choose what they want to follow. (Document B) He thinks that to stop conflicts and bring the people to peace, religious freedom is something that will truly help.
Voltaire explained how many religions affect the society. “Where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan (Muslim), and the Christian transact together as tho’ they all professed the same religion…. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist (Baptist), and the churchman (Anglican) depends on the Quaker’s word….” (Doc B).
In the English colonies in North America, they experienced a time of church reform which provided a tie with the new Church of England. This created many political communities based off of a British outline and way of life. Other ties led to the beginning of evangelical protestantism in the North American colonies. Also, the emergence of “The Enlightenment” caused many american colonists to diversify and expand their religion, some even followed art.
Above all, the Enlightenment played crucial role in educating people in the American societies. Although the Enlightenment initially started in Europe, it was prevalent out to America. The definition of Enlightenment means to “reimbursement or clearing up” and it is a very helpful term since it assists to give proper information about what the Enlightenment is and what they tried to fulfill that time. Furthermore, the Enlightenment had hugely impacted on the American Revolution. The most well known Enlightenment theorists in America were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, I think.
Religion is one main focus in Voltaire’s writing. Voltaire constantly ridicules different religions in his writing. His attacks were shrewd and effective. Voltaire was an effective writer of the time because he was able to talk about religion in a subliminal way. Because he was such a controversial writer, he used his writing to navigate around censorship and still get his point across.
Voltaire offers commentary on all aspects of French society, from religion to government to the military, by creating a discourse surrounding England and their practices, as compared to the French ways. On the topic of religion, Voltaire indirectly condemns the French state’s association with the Catholic church by sharing dialogue with an English Quaker, so as to highlight the contrast between the two religions, and point out some of the absurdities of the French system. One such point of opposition is illustrated when Voltaire inquires about the Quakers not having priests in their religion, the reason being that, “We don’t pay a set of men clothed in black to assist our poor, to bury our dead, or to preach to the brethren. These offices are all of too tender a nature for us ever to entrust them to others” (Voltaire 11). By discussing the sensitive nature of a priest’s job, and by mentioning how for this very reason Quakers do not have priests, Voltaire is effectively criticizing the extent to which religious officials are involved in the affairs of the believers of the Catholic Church.
The Age of Absolutism is defined as a time period in Europe in which monarchs gained all of the power and wealth over the state for themselves, expanding the idea of single rule. The Enlightenment, on the other hand, is defined as a movement during the 18th century that rejected traditional social, religious, and political ideas, and introduced a desire to construct governments free of tyranny (or single rule). Document 3, a primary source written by King Louis XIV of France in 1660, is describing the idea of monarchy stating,“ The more you grant . . . [to the assembled people], the more it claims . . . The interest of the state must come first” (Document 3).
Prioritization of Social Order (Prompt B) In Voltaire’s book Treatise on Toleration, it is evident that religion has been a cause of demise and strife for several generations. Beginning in the days of Moses and apparent through the case of Jean Calas, the desire for truth and greed for power has been pursued by nearly every religious sect, but in particular Christianity. While freedom of religion was a civil liberty extended by the Roman empire, the bigotry of religious zealots made it imperative to impose limitations. I argue that Voltaire limits religious tolerance to convictions that can evoke harmony because of his high regard of social order.
In the text, “Treatise on Tolerance” by Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, he implored Christians on 1763 of religion understanding and tolerance. Through series of comparisons, Voltaire demonstrated religion hypocrisy utilizing religion to incite violence and persecutions. First, he identified with Christians through narratives which demonstrated similarities between religion. Then, he measured the existence of men as minute compared immensity of the theological ideas. These similarities and measurements of men implored not only religious tolerance but also to stop using violence or persecution to nonbelievers.
Voltaire’s Candide: Commentary on the French Enlightenment Established as the “greatest of the French satirists”, François-Marie Arouet, later to be known as Voltaire, has been praised throughout history for his reconfiguration of freedom of thought during France’s Enlightenment. This Enlightenment was a movement that supported and explored the application of using rational thought to explain natural occurrences. Voltaire uses his novel Candide to bring the hypocrisy of the world around him to the attention of the public while challenging those at the helm of this movement. Candide criticizes the societal aspects of the French Enlightenment, such as organized religion and class systems, while still staying connected to its original biases.
It was the age when the State was separated from the Church. Voltaire and Denis Diderot were two of the most notable philosophers of this era, who shared their ideas about religious tolerance and intolerance. Such ideas are detailed in their works “Candide” (Voltaire) and “Intolerance”, which is an article from “Encyclopedie” (Denis Diderot). This paper will examine the works of these exceptional religious thinkers. Voltaire has an atheist mindset about Religion while Diderot apparently values the Scriptures.