The period of the Enlightenment took place during the seventeenth century. The Enlightenment centered around a new heightened interest in philosophy and science. The Enlightenment philosophers included Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and John Locke. The scientists of the same time included Galileo, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. This group of great minds together set forth a new way of thinking while still remaining grounded on the earlier Western philosophies.
The Enlightenment authors created masses of literary material in which they each followed their own ideas to form an individual angle on Enlightenment ideals. One example of this literature is Descarte's Discourse on Method, where he sets forth his idea that one must use skepticism to examine every facet of life. Although he encouraged questioning and skepticism, he believed that one should do so while following the laws of the Church. Although many thinkers of the time were branching into Enlightenment thinking, it took a long period of time for the idea to streamline through the ideas of Thomas Aquinas and other religious communities, allowing new thinkers such as Newton to flourish. The ideas that sprung off of Descartes and others all focused on science over religion and other traditional thoughts.
The Enlightenment values created a new look at human nature, religion, and the universe. While the ideas of the Enlightenment were generally mildly denounced by religious institutions, the philosophers Hobbes and Spinoza proved most threatening. Each taught that religion and thoughts of divinity had no place in human life.