Rousseau Religion And Atheism Analysis

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Rousseau claims that the precondition of decency in terms of being human and most importantly a citizen is to believe in God. Therefore, he does not separate a place in his ideal state for atheists by accusing them being unsociable. Bayle, on the other hand, is against the notion that while religion makes people moral, atheism makes them immoral. He puts forward other motives of human behavior other than fear or love of divine and claims that an atheist might be virtuous as much as a religious person or maybe even more. In this paper I shall examine Rousseau’s and Bayle’s claims on religion and atheism, then explain why an atheist on contrary to Rousseau’s ideas can make a good citizen.
Rousseau examines the ancient religions in terms of political
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This religion is specific for only one society and requires worship. It regulates the behavioral relationship of individual’s with government rather than regulating their conscience. In this type of religion, every state has their own unique gods and people worship only to them since all these are ordered by laws. In other words, being a citizen of one state requires to believe in that state’s God or at least to pretend to believe in. People who are exclude themselves from this state religion are seen as heretics. One’s rights and obligations are determined by the lines drawn by this religion (para.15 ch.4). In addition to these two religion Rousseau mentions another one, which is the religion of priest. He shows the Catholic Roman Church as an example of this form of religion. He holds a negative perception towards this type of religion because followers of this religion cannot maintain both their religious or civil duties since there is a conflict of loyalty. This religion neither like the religion of man has universality nor like the religion of citizen is specific for a society. On contrary, it is kind of …show more content…
While Bayle’s argument is providing some convincing argument such as there are other motives other than passion which determines human behavior, there are other points can be hold opposed to Rousseau’s exclusion of atheists. Rousseau thinks, atheists cannot be a good citizens for the simple reason that someone who does not believe in life after death is unlikely to be willing to sacrifice his own life for the existence or the well-being of the state. Although, a religious person does not necessarily want to sacrifice himself or to kill others and may hold a position of conscientious objector. Since one of the dogmas of Rousseau’s civil religion is to accept the God, one can say that his or her life is given by God. Hence, it may be a duty for them to maintain their self-preservation and may not want to defend the state by taking God given lives of others’. Besides, Rousseau also doubts the loyalty of an atheist to the state since they don’t have a fear of divine whereas “the fear and the love of the Divinity are not always the most active principles motivating the actions of men”. To illustrate, in the State of Israel, where its founders are secular Jews, a religious minority who thinks the whole nation are sinners because they did not wait the Messiah to establish their state, demonstrates violent attacks towards the state and

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