On one hand, the Enlightenment views saw God as a far away figure that did not interfere with the lives of humans. The Enlightenment was a period of intellectual growth that tried to explain the true nature of mankind and how it progresses. One of the most important theorists for The Enlightenment was John Locke. John Locke created a theory called tabula theory, which had important assumptions about human nature and undermined Christian assertion that humankind was inherently sinful. Another person who also criticized some of the religious views was Pierre Bayle.
The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was one of the early founders of existentialism. Although Kierkegaard was a devout Christian, he rejected the Christian Church due to its legalistic nature and the false relationship that people were receiving with God as a result. Kierkegaard believed that the key relationship of an individual was with God. He argued that God has given people freedom to make their own decisions and therefore our decisions are not determined. He thought that our existence is not something determined rationally or part of an on-going process but that it is something specific which is created through the choices we make.
For the Puritans, who have such a high influence in religion and in God, their science was meshed with religion as well. Winthrop believed that nature was created by God, and thus the Puritans' way of the science was more of an act of worship. On the other hand, Franklin was a discoverer. He wanted to find out how things work and how they evolve and end up. Franklin wants to understand the nature not the belief that God created nature ideas by the Puritans.
Sigmund Freud's id, ego, and super ego theory brought about a new way of thought that challenged the Enlightenment. Darwin's theory of evolution and Sigmund Freud's advancement in psychology challenged many of the Enlightenment ideas. Charles Darwin came up with the idea of evolution after his journey to the Galapagos Islands in 1864. This idea shattered not only the beliefs of the church but also brought a new perspective to the scientific society. Prior to Darwin, scientists and thinkers of the Enlightenment had little or no concept of evolution.
Enlightenment thinkers had three main long term beliefs that helped to shape America’s government. The first was belief in progress. The idea of progress was born after the scientific revolution, which influenced people to use human reason to solve social problems. Secondly, it caused people to stop looking at their church for guidance and to start using reason and logic to solve problems. The Enlightenment thinkers also wanted to abolish religious superstitions and promote tolerance of all religions.
The research and testing is done to either prove or disprove the hypothesis. This research is used to make a prediction and a theory as to why something happened is developed. Dr. E. Stanley Jones states “Prior to the age of science, truth was determined philosophically, by debate. But the scientific method has brought the search for truth out of the lecture hall and into the laboratory.” (Christianity.com 2013). However, the scientific method is only a way of seeking the truth.
Winthrop formed the Massachusetts Bay joint stock company and governed the colony. For those seeking change from corrupt England, this charter became a chance to establish a “true Christian commonwealth” (Breen 35). They sought to create a society where “the will of God would be observed in every detail” (Morgan 69) because they felt as though England failed them by deviating from Gods’ word. Ultimately the Puritans wanted to emphasize that the Bible was the supreme law of the land as well as the only source of instructions to live by as a Christian. They wanted to establish the New World as a region free of sin.
The Scientific Revolution was a period in the 1500’s and 1600’s in which scientific thinkees challenged traditional ideas from the Catholic Church and relied on observation and experiments. They also believed that God controlled everything. European scholars accepted the theory of the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. Ptolemy taught that the Earth was the center of the universe. Which is what the Catholic church also believed.
In his letter, Galileo asserts the Bible as a direct authority on faith and not as of one on science when his states, “that our authors knew the truth but the Holy Spirit did not desire that men should learn things that are useful to no one for salvation" The idea that the Earth moved and the sun stood still did not contradict scripture. If the scripture was interpreted correctly then the sun could only stand still if the sun normally moved around the Earth. Galileo wanted people during the 18th century to open their minds to the scientific discoveries and realize that a new idea did not have to repute scriptures. He argued against the accusations the he was condemning the Bible in a way that was, "without understanding it, weighing it, or so much as reading it". Galileo claimed to strongly believe the Bible and its message of faith.
Voltaire was a leader in the Enlightenment Era. He thought the established religion, Christianity, to be a total hypocrisy after witnessing the many wars and deaths in the name of religious tradition. A rational religion based on inate morality from the natural laws of God and reason was Voltaire's premise. Einstein furthered the cause from a reason to a science and presented facts and theories as his defense. This same reliance on the scientific community opened the door for the invention of the atomic bomb which led him to a higher moral dilemma.