We are in an Age of Enlightenment

This is a response I posted to a question in my Cultures class

What beliefs and institutions did Voltaire criticize in "Candide"? How are his criticisms related to the projects and ideals of the Enlightenment? In what ways might you suspect that Voltaire's criticisms might have influenced social philosophy in subsequent centuries, including our own?

Voltaire, like several other philosophers during the time period referred to as the "Enlightenment", criticized, above all, beliefs and practices of the Catholic church. This institution broken into three part, the church as a whole, the monarchy and the minorities, being the believers.

Throughout his writings he spoke of the church as a corrupted institution. He criticized clergy or the Pope for having children, as they took a vow of chastity. One of the other criticisms he points out is clergy breaking the 10 commandments by stealing, in the case of the Friar who take Cunegonde's jewels.

Voltaire spoke against ritualistic religion, and blind faith practices, for example when innocent people were killed in order to prevent an earthquake.

Voltaire also spoke out against the unfair treatment of women as well as slavery. When a slave would attempt to escape, legs or arms were removed, this was a common early practice, even with Columbus among the native Americans. Women were seen as lower than men and treated as property of men, solely for housekeeping and bearing children or sexual gratification to their husband.

Punishments by the church in general towards sinners, was often quite barbaric or extreme. The church attempted to keep people under control, under its influence and to not have a mind of their own. This seemingly goes directly against God's will that humans have free will, rather the church force's their will upon the people, which in a sense of and in itself it not God's will.

This contradicts with the move of the Enlightenment, where the core belief is that human's have developed far enough along to think and act for themselves, to reason and to receive their own inspiration so to speak. This is a direct threat to a church's power or even a government's control over people.

As well the Enlightenment taught that human's are equal by nature, one is not above another.

In my own opinion I observe in our own time period another type of Enlightenment taking place, where people question their leaders, of not only religion but government. A time when humans fight for equal rights. People stand up and question official stories in the media and learn to think for themselves, outside the box so to speak, often accused of being conspiracy theorists or apostates. I for one have been in and out of the same scenario with questioning church leaders and then being outcast, starting my own ministry to help open the eyes of others, to allow people to think for themselves, receive their own inspiration and show that each one of us can have a personal relationship with God, rather than through other men who ask for your money and keep you under their control.


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