In my high school days, I was taught that Voltaire was an atheist who derided the very idea of God. So, I was left drop-jaw surprised that he wrote, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Doesn’t sound like someone all twisted over the idea of a Divine Being.
All of which gave me pause. How many other things was I taught & just assumed were true that haven’t the legs my teachers gave them? Interesting thought to have at 65.
Turns out that, like many intelligent men & women of his day, Voltaire was a deist. He held firm to two beliefs – there IS a Creator behind our universe (who does NOT intervene in its workings) ~and~ that organized religion is the impetus behind mankind’s most inhumane crimes. His Treatise on Tolerance is an eloquent outline of his beliefs.
Did my teachers ever really read Voltaire? Have to wonder. His Treatise is certainly excellent reading for our current day. And my amazement over the distance between what I was taught & what I have learned is a fire under my butt to revisit, rethink & reappraise my core assumptions. One of the great pleasures of older age!