Again, many of the ideas in the following passage originated before Voltaire, but few people expressed them as well. Voltaire was particularly concerned to establish the truth by collecting evidence from as many witnesses as possible, evidence that he submitted to exacting. This would correspond to nearly 2000 years of aristocratic background, certainly an obscene lineage. Yet most of Twain's rants against organized religion or Christian doctrine pale next to the original, even in translation. At first he was enchanted by his sojourn in Berlin and , but soon difficulties arose. On the religious side, with which alone I am concerned here, that devastating storm was overwhelmingly due to the writings of Voltaire. He was amazed to hear that they believed in God as firmly as, and much more reasonably than, he and his colleagues did.
The satire of Voltaire is not out of place in modern England. In the eighteenth century one could quote and comment in public on these grossnesses. Indeed, by some singular mental process, which Voltaire alone could characterise, the books containing these crudely sexual passages are still thrust into the hands of children and of confined criminals by the joint authority of Church and State in England; and grave bishops and gentle women say that they are the Word of God. Bill of Rights and French Declaration of Rights of Man; European monarchs reduce or eliminate censorship. Had he lived one hundred years later, when evolution began to throw its magical illumination upon the order of the universe and the wonderful adaptation of its parts, his position would clearly have been modified. Up to this time he had no idea of attacking Church or State. In the present translation some of the paragraphs are omitted, and the numbering is therefore altered.
Voltaire's wit soon made him popular among some of the aristocratic families of Paris and he became a favorite in society circles. The former—a series of essays on government and society—was a landmark in the history of thought. In fact, like many other key figures during the European , Voltaire considered himself a , and he was instrumental in 's spread from England to France during his lifetime. Voltaire Books See the additional sources and recommended reading list below, or check the page for a full list. As a Deist, Voltaire rejected all forms of revealed religion, practicing a religion derived from natural laws. He used a conversation between an old man and Candide in Eldorado to display this ideal religion. He was now a man of mature judgment, vast erudition, and grave humanitarian purpose.
He is the world's 'supreme Intelligence, a Workman infinitely able'--and infinitely impartial. He decided against the study of after he left college. Ill and exhausted by his restless existence, he at last discovered the literary form that ideally fitted his lively and disillusioned temper: he wrote his first contes stories. He was a key figure in the European intellectual movement known as the. It is sometimes said that the Lisbon earthquake shook his theism.
Both patriarch and lord of the manor, he developed a modern estate, sharing in the movement of agricultural reform in which the was interested at the time. I then fancy him peeping into the fine schools of London or Manchester, and learning that the first educational authorities in England still set children to learn about Adam and Eve, the Deluge, the Plagues of Egypt, and the remarkable proceedings of Joshua and David and the rest. Again and again Voltaire returned to his chosen themes: the establishment of religious tolerance, the growth of material prosperity, respect for the rights of man by the abolition of torture and useless punishments. He ridiculed the clergy and dedicated one of his books to the pope. Voltaire found himself imprisoned again without trial. He then uses irony to great effect by describing both sides retiring to their camps after battle to claim victory and thank God. François-Marie Arouet Voltaire Wikimedia Commons Voltaire: The Shaping of his Views Voltaire had strong anti-establishment beliefs.
A clerical friend once confided to me that he found a use in Voltaire. Hagiographic parody in Candide, The French Review , Vol. But he can be considered here only as one of the few who, in an age of profound inequality, used the privilege of his enlightenment to enlighten his fellows; one of those who won for us that liberty to think rationally, and to speak freely, on religious matters which we too airily attribute to our new goddess, Evolution. After a successful life as a best selling poet and playwright Voltaire could have chosen a life of peace and quiet but instead became fired up with a passion to rectify the great wrong to the Calas family cause by religious intolerance. Monster, thou sharest not my religion, and therefore hast no religion; thou shalt be a thing of horror to thy neighbours, thy city, and thy province. Some Christians like to point out that Voltaire enjoyed skewering atheists almost as much as he enjoyed skewering Christians.
The Jesuits, whom he chiefly lashed, were in his own time ignominiously expelled by nearly every Catholic Power in Europe, and were suppressed by the Pope. He sparkled so much at the suppers of the Epicureans, and earned such reputation, that he was put in the Bastille for certain naughty epigrams, which he had not written; and he was exiled for another epigram, on a distinguished sinner, which he had written. Could a prince of irony restrain himself in such circumstances? He lived with her in the château he had renovated at his own expense. He became a precocious, sharp-eared boy. When a warrant of arrest was issued in May of 1734, Voltaire took refuge in the of at Cirey in Champagne and thus began his with this young, remarkably intelligent woman. His arguments for the existence of God will compare with those of the ablest lay or clerical theologians of his time. It was one of the chief festivals of the Catholic year, the Feast of All Saints November 1 , and the crowded churches were in the very act of worship, when the ground shook.
Voltaire himself did not hope that all his vast quantity of writings would be remembered by. He had no respect for religion and he created a new religion of laughter. In a entitled Diatribe du docteur Akakia 1752 , he covered him with ridicule. That was not enough: he was held to be born before time itself. All over the earth the great principle of both is: Do not unto others what you would that they do not unto you. Voltaire grew to love Britain — he approved of the constitutional monarchy and of freedom of speech and religion. Helpful links for Students — Make Money as you shop with this Cash Back account.
The French philosopher was a writer, activist and political idealist who used the written word to help push vast scientific, political and social change. I have altered the structure of the verse—the original is in rhymed hexameters—only in order that I could more faithfully convey to those who read only English the sentiments and, as far as possible, the phrasing of Voltaire. Even if his words had no application in our age, it merits the most grateful consideration. The doctrines attacked here by Voltaire are wholly discredited. They influenced Thomas Paine and other American revolutionaries, helped lead to the brutal French revolution, and have influenced many writers and students since.