happy

Council for Secular Humanism



Get Active!

Sign up to receive CSH emails and Action Alerts

Donate online
to support CSH

Free Inquiry
magazine

Subscribe for the
Internet price of
only $19.97

Renew your
subscription

Browse
back issues

Visit our
online library

Shop Online


What's New?

Employment
Opportunities


Introduction to
Secular Humanism

Council for
Secular Humanism

CSH Organizations

The Center for Inquiry

Paul Kurtz

Speaker's Bureau

Humanist Hall of Fame

Web Columns
and Feedback


Find a Secular Humanist
Group Near You

Field Notes:
Council Activities
Around the Nation

Worldwide Index of
Humanist Groups


Humanism on TV

Campus
Freethought Alliance

African
Americans

for Humanism

International Academy
of Humanism

Secular Organizations
for Sobriety


Links

Feedback

Contact Info

Site Map

Translate

Home

 


GREAT MINDS

Françoise-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778)


The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 20, Number 1.


Background:

  • Born in Paris. Educated by Jesuits.

Achievements:

  • Philosopher, satirist, dramatist, novelist, historian, essayist, poet, social reformer, and the most influential champion of the Enlightenment.

Some Notable Works:

  • The Philosophical Dictionary, Candide, Lettres Philosophique, Essai Sur Les Moeurs, La Henriade

Religious Beliefs:

  • Although some scholars have argued that Voltaire was an atheist, most believe that he could best be described as a deist who believed in an impersonal, possibly amoral, God. He did not believe in an afterlife, miracles, or revelation. He opposed superstition, dogma, and priestcraft.

Intellectual Passions:

  • Voltaire promoted empiricism, rationalism, social reform, and freedom of thought. He waged war against Christianity and injustice. But he did not openly write against Christianity until the 1760s. Once Voltaire brought his intellectual arsenal to bear on Christianity, the Church experienced a cutting, barbed, and bloody verbal assault of unprecedented power and popularity. His first anti-Christian pamphlet The Sermon of the Fifty (1762), concluded that the true God "surely cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on the gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough."

Motto:

  • "Ecrasez l'infame!"- "Crush the Infamous Thing!" L'infame was Christianity.

Fitting Epitaths:

  • The nineteenth-century historian Thomas Macauley said of Voltaire, "Bigots and tyrants, who had never been moved by the wailing and cursing of millions, turned pale at his name." Even at two centuries removed, the Nazis recognized Voltaire as a natural enemy: during their occupation of Paris, the Nazis singled out the statue of Voltaire for destruction.

news.gif (359 bytes) Subscribe to Free Inquiry

books.gif (406 bytes) Order Free Inquiry Back Issues

back.gif (1144 bytes) Free Inquiry Home Page

back.gif (1144 bytes) Secular Humanism Online Library

house.gif (1274 bytes) Council for Secular Humanism Web Site


Webmaster@SecularHumanism.org

This page was last updated 02/13/2004

Copyright notice:  The copyright for the contents of this web site rests with the Council for Secular Humanism.  
You may download and read the documents.  Without permission, you may not alter this information, repost it, or sell it. 
If you use a document, you are encouraged to make a donation to the Council for Secular Humanism.