Toward the beginning of the 18th century, a new ideology began to take hold of Europe. It was during this time that a radical and critical revolution took place to bring about the use of rational thought and enlighten the people about their own beliefs and values; thus igniting the period of Enlightenment. In this period many people followed the teachings of their forefathers, such as Socrates, who was considered a figure of skepticism and rational thought. Challenging all views and theorems was the main point of this new ideology. Voltaire, a very powerful and influential figure among the writers of the 18th century, was known for his rejection of religion and a devout deist. In one of his most famous works, Candide, he causes the reader’s to reflect on the beliefs and values of the Enlightenment.
To better expand upon these beliefs one must understand what Deism is and how it came about. Deism is defined as a philosophy which claims the existence of one god, the god who gave life to this world. This one god created the world and all its inhabitants, but continued no further relationship with man after creation. It was this god who created a “mechanical” universe which would function without any supernatural intervention. Deists believed that one’s life is solely committed to the world and not to any supernatural being. The notion that Deism could take place in such a predominately religious world arouses curiosity. The rise of Deism began with the Scientific Revolution and the changes and ideas that it brought about. The Scientific Revolution was based on the ideology of empiricism, the belief that one should study the world through observation rather than speculation. The idea of empiricism most closely related to the ideas of Socrates or Plato which was the classical notion of skepticism. Society latched onto this new ideology and brought it upon them to “enlighten” the common person. Many revolutionary discoveries were made during the...
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