Voltaire Will Durant follows, briefly, t…


Will Durant follows, briefly, the life of Francois Marie Arouet (also known as Voltaire). One of the notable misconceptions is that he was thought to be an atheist or agnostic. Durant says not so.

“He addresses to God a magnificent prayer; and in the article ‘Theist’ he expounds his faith finally and clearly: ‘The theist is a man firmly persuaded of the existence of a supreme being as good as he is powerful, who has formed all things…; who punishes, without cruelty, all crimes, and recompenses with goodness all virtuous actions…Reunited in this principle with the rest of the universe, he does not join any sects which all contradict one another. His religion is the most ancient and the most widespread; for the single worship of a God preceded all the systems of the world. He speaks a language which all peoples understand, while they do not understand one another. He has brother from Pekin to Cayenne, and he counts all the sages for his fellows. He believes that religion consists neither in the opinions of the unintelligible metaphysic, nor in vain shows, but in worship and in justice. To do good is his worship, to submit to God is his creed. The Mohammedan cries out to him, ‘Beware if you fail to make the pilgrimage to Mecca!’ – and the priest says to him, ‘Curses on you if you do not make the trip to Notre Dame de Lorette!’ He laughs as Lorette and ant Mecca: but he succors the indigent and defends the oppressed.’”

Whatever we might think or say of his remarks and their relation to New Testament Christianity (or Christianity in general), I think we can at least appreciate a part of the man in the world in which he lived. RT

From The Story of Philosophy, “Voltaire and the French Enlightenment” (pages 152-191), by Will Durant, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1953, p. 184