Religion During the Enlightenment

by rakane ~ April 22nd, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 16: The Age of Enlightenment: Rationalism and its Uses, Uncategorized.

During the Reformation era, the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was founded and became a leading group in promoting and providing education. Many leader of the Enlightenment were Jesuit educated, making them the most influential teachers in the Age of Enlightenment. They tended to stress traits, such as discipline and intellectual exactitude, that were important to the philosophes.

Although many Enlightenment thinkers were educated through a religious group, most opposed established religious organizations, citing them as blocks to human freedom. The general religous thought during this time was Deism, the belief that there is a God, but He does not intervene in daily human life. Reason was applied to religion, as David Hume questioned the reality of miracles and Benedict Spinoza scrutinized religious texts. 

Benedict Spinoza, a major influence on Deists, used the basis of reason to interpret religious texts. He was excommunicated from his synagogue and is the founder of modern day biblical criticism. David Hume claimed that reason could not prove the existence of God by concluding that miracles, which are not rational, lay at the core of Christianity.

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