Religious Toleration during the Enlightenment Essay

Religious Toleration during the Enlightenment Essay

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The Enlightenment of the 18th century evolved due to the many changes brought about by the Scientific Revolution. With all of the new scientific discoveries, new thought processes were developed. The scientists of the Scientific Revolution brought about revolutionary change. These scientists inspired the philosophes of the Enlightenment to challenge the ways of the "Old Regime" and question the ideas of the church. Philosophers such as Francois Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Locke published their controversial ideas and these ideas along with some important political action, helped to mold a new type of society. The new society was one that tolerated different religious beliefs. "The minds of men, abandoning the old disciplines and contentions of theology, turned to what they called "natural philosophy," namely, the faith in individual reason rather than in divine revelation; they welcomed the excitement offered by the ever widening opportunities for discovery and commerce and by the prospect of immeasurable progress owing to the inventions of science and technology and the spread of education."1 Religious toleration during the Age of Enlightenment was ultimately affected by changes in the Roman Catholic Church, the politics of the 18th century, and the philosophy movement.

Enlightenment was a term, which was used to describe a new philosophy of life. "It was a time when man, stepping, out of his shackles, began to use his rational facilities … and shoved aside the state and church authorities."2 Individuals began to rely on their own instincts in order to realize that there were certain civil liberties that should be provided to them, that they were not receiving. Religious freedom was one of these civil liberties....


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...f Church and State destroyed many monarchies and permitted democracy.

1 Nicolson, Harold. The Mainstream of the Modern World: The Age of Reason. Edited by
John Gunther. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company Inc.,1961),19.

2 Pacini, David S. The Cunning of the Modern Religious Thought. (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press,1987),35.

3 Pacini, 36.

4 Hooker, Richard. "Martin Luther." http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/REFORM/LUTHER/HTM.
(14Feb2000).

5 Nicolson, 40.

6 Pacini, 46.

7 Grell, Peter, Bob Scribner, ed. Tolerance and Intolerance in the European
Reformation. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1996),69.

8 Brians, Paul. "Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: The Social Contract (1762)."
http://www.sgc.peachnet.edu/users/rreiman/www/time/rousseau.htm (14Feb2000).

9 Brians

10 Brians

11 Grell,167

12 Grell,168

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