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European Enlightenment: The 17th century's most read philosopher produced sharp and honest literature. Yet until today the question seems to be unanswered where he really belonged (Bayle enigma).

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Wiki says he professed himself to be a Protestant.

Do you have reason to doubt this? And why would the only alternative to a Calvinist Protestant be for him to be an atheist, when there were many other Christian sects and denominations?

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Well, there have been times when I had reason to doubt Wikipedia content. In this case they correctly cite Bayle as a "self-pronounced Protestant". The challenge here is less Wikipedia, but more the self-conception of this great philosopher. Anyway, I agree with you that there were many more options of Christian existence than only Calvinism. Thanks Guy. –  Ben Oehler Oct 25 '12 at 20:07
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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that Bayle was considered to be a skeptic in many ways. He was engaged in theological debate his whole life, but at a time when atheists were extraordinarily rare. As a son of a priest I think it's hard to believe he was an outright atheist, but he was certainly not a devout believer. He seems to be a person that was a little ahead of his time.

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The excellent SEP essay (thanks ihtkwot!) makes clear that we can only assume where Bayle personally stood. According to his available publications I have a tendency to say that he himself vacillated all his life between the two poles of divine experience and doubtful skepticism. In so far, I agree with ihtkwot that Bayle was ahead of his time. –  Ben Oehler Oct 25 '12 at 19:58
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