What did Voltaire say/think about dogma and superstition?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Personally, Voltaire adhered for most of his adult life to a rationalist religious worldview that would be best described as deistic. He did not believe in many of the core tenets of Catholicism, the religion of his birth, and indeed he was deeply suspicious of what he considered its irrational elements, such as miracles. However, what he most bitterly rejected was the dogmatic nature of the Church, which, in his view, placed artificial limits on human intellectual pursuits. Perhaps his most famous saying, "Ecrassez l'infame!" which means "crush the infamous thing" was in reference to the Catholic Church. By this he did not mean that the Church itself should be destroyed, but rather that theologians and sectarians argued for things that were contrary to reason, and, most importantly, promoted intolerance. It should be noted, also, that Voltaire was not simply anti-Catholic. He viewed many Calvinist sects to be as vicious and bigoted as were Catholics. The religions he portrays in a positive light in his works, such as the Anabaptist in Candide, believed in religious tolerance.


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