Voltaire In Religious Tolerance

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Voltaire on Religious Tolerance During the age of Enlightenment many people, especially those belonging to the middle class, began writing against the way society lived. Many people also wrote against the church and the way the church wanted to run things. Voltaire always spoke against the church but he also believed in religious tolerance because in the end he was raised with religious beliefs that could not be forgotten. Just like John Huss and Martin Luther, Voltaire received punishment for trying to unmask the church although what they spoke the truth. This is why I believe he started this piece talking about an Irish priest who wrote a pamphlet on religious tolerance. The priest talked about how it took too long for us to stand up to tolerance, in this case religious tolerance since he was a religious leader. Voltaire believed that to understand our present and mould our future we must look at our past. In the past the church had supreme power over the society and any other religion was frowned upon. As the piece goes on, you can see thoughts of other philosophers as well. I believe the part that says ‘barbarity has taken place of gentleness’ is influenced by Thomas Hobbes because according to him humans were short, nasty and brutish. In other words, as humans it is our nature to act this way especially when it comes to accepting other religions. Later on in the paragraph Voltaire says ‘Observe what passes under your own eyes, and if you have a human heart, you will join your compassion to ours.’ This thought could be related to David Hume’s idea that we cannot judge others by our own standards because with different situation comes a shift in our morals. In this same section Voltaire begins to talk about how far religion can take you. He speaks of eight preachers who were hung and how the people were such fanatics of religion that they

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