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The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement in the 1700s characterized by rationalism, or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification". This view often rejected traditional social, political, and religious views. Its inspiration was the idea that God was not the solution for everything, and that some things were controlled by natural laws as opposed to the supernatural.

Writers during the Enlightenment assumed that science, beginning in the late 1600s with Isaac Newton, could be duplicated in other fields through a systematic and logical approach. Some of the "enlightened" authors of the period even rejected and criticized Christianity. Many were deists. Enlightenment philosophy took root in England, France, and the American colonies, where it provided the intellectual foundations of the American Revolution.

According to researcher Rodney Stark, "The 'Enlightenment' [was] conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists and humanists who attempted to claim credit for the rise of science [through promulgating] the falsehood that science required the defeat of religion.'[1]

The main proponents in the American colonies were Benjamin Franklin and John Locke.

See also


  1. Stark, Rodney, "For The Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts and the End of Slavery", Princeton University Press, 2003, p.123, quoted in Williams, Alex, The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation 18(2):50, 2004.