Excerpt from “The Portable Philosophical Dictionary” by Voltaire

The theist is a man firmly persuaded of the existence of a Supreme Being equally good and powerful, who has formed all extended, vegetating, sentient, and reflecting existences; who perpetuates their species, who punishes crimes without cruelty, and rewards virtuous action with kindness. The theist does not know how God punishes, how He rewards, how He pardons; for he is not presumptuous enough to flatter himself that he understands how God acts; but he knows that God does act and that He is just. The difficulties opposed to a Providence do not stagger him in his faith, because they are only great difficulties, not proofs: he submits himself to that Providence, although he only perceives some of its effects and some appearances; and judging of the things he does not see from those he does see, he thinks that this Providence pervades all places and all ages. — The Portable Philosophical Dictionary, “Theist.”

Voltaire (aka François-Marie Arouet) (1694–1778) was a French Enlightenment thinker who, for many, is seen as one of the first “philosophes” to spark the light of secular thought throughout the dark places left in the wake of Christendom’s crumbling. His works on civil liberties and social reform remain a template for philosophical liberalism. Besides being a compiler of an encyclopedia, this versatile thinker was also a poet, novelist, historian, and playwright.

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