with relative ease, be broadened. Once the high and mighty were seen to be sexually far-fetched, why not invest whole peoples with the power of sexual license? Travel east or west - even to Africa - and there love can be made freely, without shame.14
The essence of humankind, according to the Australians, is liberty, and also 'they believe that this being incomprehensible is all there is and they give him all the veneration imaginable'. They never, however, talk about religion. The Australian explicator, le vieillard philosophe, knew science. He explained that the universe is composed of atoms in motion, nothing more. In the journey to an imagined new world the passage from deism to materialism had become virtually effortless. Journeying at precisely the same moment to Tartary, an anonymous English traveller discovered 'Death to be nothing else but a Cessation from the Motions of Action and Thought'. If anyone asked about religion say only that you are a shepherd.15 The genre of utopian travel literature intended to teach irreligion and to open up new vistas of disbelief originated among countless anonymous authors writing late in the seventeenth century. Only in the 1720s did the great philosophers like Montesquieu and Voltaire take up the genre, and given their literary and imaginative skill, elevate it to great and canonical status. From its humble origins onward, utopian travel literature never ceased to be a vehicle for critiquing the Christian clergy, their rigid doctrines, and habits of intolerance.
The new science from Galileo onward gave a profoundly new definition of matter as atomic, moved by contact action between bodies, as measurable, as knowable through its velocity and weight. It left unsolved the exact role that the deity played in this new mechanical universe. Of the major natural philosophers after Galileo, only Descartes tried to offer an entire philosophical synthesis that placed God in charge of creation through an act of his will while leaving nature to be a configuration of mechanisms, of constant push and pull among and between bodies. The planets stayed in their orbits held in place by a fine ethereal medium and these vortices of whirling ether filled the celestial world as imagined by Descartes. It was inevitable that someone would seek to unify Descartes' universe and resolve the dilemma of God's role in it. This Spinoza undertook by conflating God with Nature and pantheism, as Toland called it, became a viable creed. In the lifetime of Spinoza and beyond, spinozism had many meanings. All of the meanings were bad in the eyes of the devout.
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