Atheism





The discovery and discussion of natural laws, criticism of superstition made possible the explanation of the world without the concept of God. The Deists limited God to a creator-God but rejected the idea that God, in any way, would interfere after the act of creation. Kant, while maintaining the existence of God, developed ethics independent of God, based on the concept of self-interest. Thus, the philosophes deprived God of a raison d'etre beyond that of the act creation, which was history. Helvetius (1715-1771) was an atheist philosopher, his works were burnt by the University of Paris.
Philippe Duc d'Orleans, regent of France 1715-1724, declared himself to be an atheist. Confessions of that kind were rare in the early 18th century, but the influence of the churches declined, dissenters found free rooms. Secret societies such as the Freemasons, with their alleged history tracing back to ancient Egyptian, thus pagan, origins, provided fora for such dissenters.

When, in the years following the French Revolution, revolutionary French armies occupied territory outside of France, Catholic propaganda would refer to the French as atheists - this at a time when the French had gonme a step further and replaced the Catholic church by the Cult of Reason.







EXTERNAL
FILES
History of Atheism : 18th and 19th Century, from BBC Education
Biography of Philippe II, Duc d'Orleans, from Wikipedia
The Enlightenment, Freemasonry, and The Illuminati, from American Atheists, partial site
Biography of Claude Adrien Helvetius, from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, from CEPA, Swiss Atheist Philosopher
DOCUMENTS
REFERENCE



This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 20th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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