The spirit of the enlightenment was nothing less than an intellectual revolution, a whole new way of looking at God, the world, and one’s self. It was the birth of secularism. In place of faith it set reason. Man’s primary concern was not the next life, but happiness and fulfillment in this world; and the mind of man, rather than faith, was the best guide to happiness — not emotions, myths, or superstitions.

The Age of Enlightenment created the ferment for change, but most of that ferment was expressed in words rather than action. Beginning in the 1760’s, country after country felt the fever of political unrest. Everywhere, people’s basic demands were the same: the right to participate in politics, the right to vote, the right to greater freedom of expression. In America, the American Revolution in the 1770s inspired these radicals in Europe, and France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen codified most of the demands of the Enlightenment: it declared that the natural rights of man–"liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression"–were sacred and inalienable; it established men’s right to express their opinions freely; it prohibited arbitrary arrest and protected the rights of the accused. (See also "Deism" and "Holbach, Baron von.")

[tags]BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, Deism, Enlightenment, history[/tags]


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