We Need Voltaire and His Extraordinary Ideas

We Need Voltaire and His Extraordinary Ideas
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“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy the mad daughter of a very wise mother”

Voltaire said this as a way to warn people about false beliefs but who was this man and why do his ideas matter today?  This man who lived 300 years ago spoke about freedom and standing up to those in power. Today we are allowed to make fun of our government.  Today we are allowed to criticize what we do not like. Today if Voltaire used social media his ideas might come across like this #Speakout  #rights&responsibilities #becarefulofpower

Daryl Cagle / politicalcartoons.com

Who was Voltaire?

(21 November 1694- 30 May 1778). He was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his humor, his attacks on the established Catholic Church and Christianity as a whole and his support of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and separation of church and state.

Voltaire argues in favor of toleration of religious belief, while reserving the right to argue strenuously against it, and denouncing religious fanaticism of all stripes. “Tolerance has never provoked a civil war; intolerance has covered the Earth in carnage.”


Further Reading

Aldridge, Alfred Owen. Voltaire and the Century of Light. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975; Brooks, Richard A. The Selected Letters of Voltaire. New York: New York University Press, 1973; Mason, Haydn Trevor. Voltaire: A Biography. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981; Pearson, Roger. Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005.

MLA Citation

“Voltaire.” World History: The Modern Era, ABC-CLIO, 2018, worldhistory.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/316159. Accessed 16 Mar. 2018.

Today we face some problems in society.  There are many ways for people to speak out through social media and publishing but it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between truth and lies.  We call this “fake news”.

The first amendment protects the freedom of speech and assembly but we must use our freedoms with responsibility.

Another problem we face today is violence with guns.  What would Voltaire say to the students who are speaking out in favor of gun control and better laws to protect society?



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What  does the second amendment say?

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But, how does this amendment affect today?

Today we have problems in the schools with violence.  Many students in the big schools across America do not feel safe because there have been too many times when someone with a gun has killed students. Voltaire wanted freedom but he also wanted safety.  Every freedom has limits. If he saw a problem in society he would speak out.  He believed the strongest part of society is education so we need to do a better job of protecting our schools. In the quote Voltaire would say that Americans are not allowed to criticize gun laws.  This is because there is power in money and there is much money in the politics and business of guns.  Gun freedoms are defended by Republicans and the National Rifle Association


With every freedom there needs to be limits of responsibility. When a freedom is doing harm to others then we must speak out for limits on that freedom. What do you think Voltaire and the Enlightenment thinkers of democracy would say about this problem in our society today?

305 School Shootings In America Since 2013

Students across US walk out of class in gun violence protest.