Western Civilization Class

The “Enlightened”

When we think of the Enlightenment there are a few main ideas associated with it. The Enlightened were know for their use of reason. They believed that we should not simply trust accepted beliefs or traditions, instead we should use our intellect to determine truths. Many of them had great confidence in human nature and in what humans could accomplish. They discarded the Biblical idea that man was a fallen creature in need of redemption. They also looked to science as a way to explain how things worked. From learning about the planets to classifying plants and studying the human body through dissection the Enlightened started to place greater emphasis on experimental science. Also attributed to them is the idea of skepticism. They imbued previously accepted beliefs and traditional forms of institutions, such as the church and government, with their skepticism. They no longer had confidence in the ancient philosophers, scientists, or doctors just because previous generations had accepted them. Instead they put away the old ideas and started to look at things in a new light.

Most of the Enlightened were also skeptics of religion. Some believed in deism, which said that God made the universe and set it in motion, but then abandoned it. Others thought that we did not need God or the Bible. Rather they believed that mankind’s reasoning and science was the answer to life’s questions. However, they seemed to forget that everything they were studying was created by God, including their intellect that, sadly, many did not use well.

One important thing to remember is that not everyone believed in all of these ideas. There were some that were extreme in what they believed, but not everyone was so delusional.


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