Pierre Bayle Et La Religion by Hubert Bost 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Hubert Bost
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Pierre Bayle Et La Religion by Hubert Bost
Hubert Bost
Presses universitaires de France
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Toward the end of his life, Pierre Bayle characterized himself as one who had taken part in the great contest of faith and reason. No phrase could more accurately describe the generation during which he wrote and thought (1680-1706), for beneath the apparent stability of the French classical age and the apparent order of the reign of Louis XIV, the Enlightenment was preparing, the arms to be used by the Encyclopedists against organized religion were being forged, and two contrary modes of thought were contesting for the minds of the intellectual community of Europe. It was a crucial period in Western thought during which the A ge of Faith passed into the A ge of Reason.1 Faith was belief in the creeds and traditions of Christianity, in a divine Providence which intervened in the affairs of the world, in a God of miracles, and in eternal rewards and punishments. The mind possessed by faith was unafraid of mysteries, the incomprehensible, even on occasion the contradictory, for all objects of belief were founded on the revealed Word of God wherein Christians found the sure answers to the questions of existence. Doctrinal differences between confessions did not change the essential image of faith, for all Christians thought alike on one point all ultimately referred their queries to a divine authority for final answer. Since the time of St. Augustine faith had ruled as a queen over the intellectual life of Europe. Reason occupied the servants quarters and had no other role than to defend the dogmas of the faith. Early in the seventeenth century, however, the hold of faith on the mind of Europe was no longer general. The anarchy and horrors of the wars of religion in sixteenth-cen1 For a comprehensive work on this period see Paul Hazard s The European Mind: The Critical Years 1680-1715 (N ew Haven,
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