Why did I love this book?
This is a wonderfully mind-expanding book which gently takes the history of philosophy that you think you know and turns it on its head. Most of the great critics of Christianity – Spinoza, Voltaire, Tom Paine, they’re all here – were not really, it turns out, atheists trying to tear it all up: they were idealistic, reforming believers who weren’t satisfied with churchy orthodoxies and wanted to purify religions that they thought had become corrupted. That made them maybe even fiercer in their criticisms, and it certainly meant they had unleashed forces they couldn’t control. But it means the moral force that drove anti-religious criticism during the Enlightenment was the desire, not to destroy religion, but to perfect it.