The popular mind often associates scepticism with irreligion, and critical distance with unbelief. In this view, reason and faith, or scientific method and religious dogma, are t only different but indeed antagonistic means of viewing the world, understanding human existence, and conducting ones life. Pierre Bayles scepticism was of a singularly distinct sort. He argued t that religion is untrue, but that the discourses proper to theology and the discourses proper to philosophy are incapable of any meaningful exchange. Bayle sought to advance a secular morality that would be independent of both speculative theism and religious revelation. Bayle blazed a philosophical path that Denis Diderot, David Hume, and other Enlightenment thinkers would follow. The continuing significance of this work is its vigorous defence of complete religious toleration. It is in itself a primary historical source of our modern tradition of religious tolerance.
Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), Protestant philosopher and critic, was born in France. In 1675 he became professor of philosophy at Sedan until forced into exile in Rotterdam in 1681, where he published works on religion with a liberal and tolerant tendency. He was dismissed from his position at the Huguenot refugees academy in 1693 following the accusation that he was an agent of France and an enemy of Protestantism. In 1696 he completed his major work, the Dictionnaire historique et critique.