From Puritanism To Enlightenment

The colonial America experienced eras of two different ideologies; Puritanism and enlightenment. Puritanism era preceded that of enlightenment and this was in during the 17th century. A century later diverging views of enlightened thinking started cropping up. With two opposing ideologies, a new American era was born. Following is a discussion of these two eras.


During the era of Puritanism, the belief was that the Bible was a ‘manuscript’ for everything on the face of the earth. Believers in this ideology felt that anyone who wanted to think or prove otherwise were being blasphemous. Everyone was supposed to follow the Bible’s teachings without raising any questions. In a different situation, puritans believed that human beings were valueless without ‘God’s presence’ in them. Therefore, puritans believed that if a person did not follow their beliefs, then he was bound to suffer or experience some troubles. Thirdly, puritans imposed their ideas on everyone. They did not leave room for a person to choose to accept this ideology or otherwise. Actually, if puritans found a person who did not wish to accept their ideology, they would assault him or her. Consequently, this behaviour made people resent the ideology even without having to know what it really entailed.


In terms of viewing the world, people who believed in the enlightenment ideology differed with puritans. This new ideology suggested the need to explain different aspects of the world. These aspects included reasons for creation and explaining how everything worked. This new ideology suggested that the world required research and not just a mere observation of the status quo. As a result, these people sought evidence to support or oppose any pre-existing belief. In terms of human beings being good, believers in enlightenment also differed with puritans. They believed that people did good things because they are created naturally good. They did not believe that a spiritual being made people act in any good ways. When the protagonists of enlightenment started spreading their ideology, they took an approach different from that of puritans. They basically published their ideas for people to read and decide on whether to follow the ideas or not. They did not go about forcefully coercing people to accept the ideology of enlightenment.

These two ideologies were quite different and naturally one would expect a huge division due to the difference. However, the differing opinions made people seek knowledge and widened people’s thoughts.

© All rights reserved.