Critically discuss the themes of religion and political freedom in the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment refers to the intellectual movement that began in England in the 17th century. The key protagonists were John Locke (1632 – 1704) and the deists, and further developed in France in the 18th century with Voltaire (1694 – 1778), Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784) and other Encyclopaedists (Honderich 1995). Almost every European country, and every sphere of life and thought was affected by the Enlightenment – hence this ‘enlightening’ period has commonly become known as the Age of Reason. In the place of faith, people started to turn to reason and logic to determine what was true and false, and what was moral and immoral. As a result, political thought developed significantly throughout the Enlightenment, whereby the previous central role of religion in society arguably became threatened. Indeed, for many Enlightenment thinkers, religion was “unacceptable in any established ecclesiastical shape or form” (Porter 2001: p. 29). The purpose of my essay, therefore, is to critically discuss the themes of religion and political freedom in the Age of Enlightenment. In particular, I will critically discuss some of the main thinkers of the Enlightenment, including Kant, Locke and Rousseau, and evaluate their political thoughts and how it impacts religion in the Age of Reason.

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Feminism is egalitarianism. Discuss.

Feminism is a political movement that aims for equal rights between men and women. Meanwhile, egalitarianism is a concept in political philosophy that advocates that all people should be treated as equals. Therefore, a fundamental question arises – could feminism and egalitarianism be described as advocating for the same ideals? Thus, the purpose of this essay is to critically discuss whether feminism is a branch of egalitarianism. In particular, I will discuss what feminism and egalitarianism as concepts and political movements entail. In essence, this essay will interrogate whether we should abandon the term feminism and replace it with egalitarianism, due to the name of feminism being somewhat ‘tarnished’. Through a balanced evaluation of the similarities and differences between the two movements, I will ultimately conclude that feminism is one of the many divisions of egalitarianism.

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Critically discuss the significance of Optimism in Candide.

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Candide (1759), or Optimism, is a French satire written by Voltaire (1694 – 1778), a philosopher of the Enlightenment. Candide quickly became a bestseller of the European book trade in the eighteenth century; at least 20,000 copies of the book were sold within a month of its publication and, consequently, has become one of the key texts of the Enlightenment (Pearson 2008). In this essay, therefore, I will discuss Candide and its impact on the Age of the Enlightenment. In particular, I am going to critically discuss the significance of optimism in Candide, a major recurring theme in the novel that Voltaire attacks.

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What role does scripture play in fundamentalist ideology?

When one thinks of fundamentalism, one most likely thinks of violence, preaching and a literal interpretation of scripture. But to what extent does scripture play a role in fundamentalist ideology? In this essay, therefore, I shall focus primarily on Islamic and Christian fundamentalism and their sacred texts – the Quran and the Bible. I will illustrate how religion and ideology are conjoined with one another when exploring fundamentalism. I will also address the question why do fundamentalists select particular passages from their chosen scripture and declare them as “decisive authority” (Lawrence 1995: p. 60)? Ultimately, I will critically examine what Islamic and Christian fundamentalist ideology entails and how their scriptures play a role, and how it underpins their ideology.

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To what extent is the Bible a ‘patriarchal’ book?

The Bible is a highly influential book but should it be if it is regarded as ‘patriarchal’? Stereotypically women are viewed as the weaker sex because supposedly they are responsible for household chores and the looking after of children. However, men are viewed as stronger because they are responsible for providing for the family. Is the Bible to blame for this? Is this due to the Bible being ‘patriarchal’? The Bible has so much influence over the world, for example some construct their moral and ethical codes around it (Barton 2010). The Bible is so deeply ingrained in Western psyche that people are able to use it to justify the inferiority of women due to its divine authority and inerrancy (Davies 2013). Is this okay? It is the 21st Century, surely humanity has developed to be able to treat men and women as equals, to treat them both with equal respect, without having to refer to a book written hundreds of years ago by predominately male authors. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to critically discuss the Bible’s patriarchal nature, with reference to its non-patriarchal characteristics to make a grounded and balanced argument as to determine the extent of the Bible as a ‘patriarchal’ book.

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Discuss the significance of the miracle stories in the Gospels.

The miracles that Jesus performed are found in the Gospels of the New Testament. The events have been termed ‘miracles’ due to a number of reasons, including the definition of what a miracle is by notable people. Saint Thomas Aquinas stated that a miracle is “beyond the order commonly observed in nature”. Similarly, to David Hume who famously defined a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature”. Out of all the subjects related to Jesus, his miracles are the one topic that has presented the most problems for readers in recent centuries. Many people, including some Christians, have found it hard to believe that the alleged miracles actually took place. However, nonetheless, the teachings of Jesus still come across loud and clear. We tend to extract the meanings and teachings behind the miracles against the background of the Old Testament. This aims to show how the prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, and how the long awaited kingdom had arrived through him (Drane 1999). It is necessary to understand the miracles in this frame of reference.

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Did Islam Spread by the Sword in India?

Islam has had a huge social, political and economic impact on India. However, the older religion of Hinduism was dominant in India when Islam expanded into the Middle East and Central Asia (Stearns 2001). Thus the question arises of how the Muslims ruled over India for over a thousand years? Today, Islam is only a minority religion in India with only fourteen percent of the population made up of Muslims (Esposito 2003). But how did Islam spread to India to begin with when Hinduism was the dominant religion? I am going to discuss the different theories of how Islam spread to India, including the idea that it was spread by the sword.

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