Brown and "The Voltaire Code"
Posted: April 21, 2006,
William J. Federer
"A secret Academy of which Voltaire was the president ...
Fabrication of books of all kinds against Christianity ...
books imputed as posthumous to deceased writers of
reputation ..." _ Yale President Timothy Dwight, July 4,
Dan Brown's novel, "The DaVinci Code," with its assault
on Christianity, fits the genre' of famed French cynic
But was Voltaire part of a secret society to defame
Christianity? Timothy Dwight, president of Yale from 1795 to
1817, thought so.
Timothy Dwight has impressive credentials. The grandson
of Princeton president Jonathan Edwards, he entered Yale at
age 13, was a chaplain in the Continental Army and served in
Massachusetts' first state Legislature before becoming the
fourth president of Yale. During his 22-year term, he
created the Departments of Chemistry, Geology, Medicine and
Law. Dwight pioneered women's education, opposed slavery and
encroachment on Indian lands. One of his students, Samuel
Morse, invented the telegraph.
Concerned with the growing enticement of France's deistic
"cult of reason," which birthed the bloody French
Revolution, Timothy Dwight gave an address in New Haven on
July 4, 1798, titled "The Duty of Americans at the Present
Crisis" (Encyclopedia Britannica's Annals of America, Volume
4) in which he uncovered some clues:
"About the year 1728, Voltaire, so celebrated for his wit
and brilliancy and not less distinguished for his hatred of
Christianity and his abandonment of principle, formed a
systematical design to destroy Christianity and to introduce
in its stead a general diffusion of irreligion and atheism.
For this purpose he associated with himself Frederick the
II, king of Prussia, and Mess. D'Alembert and Diderot, the
principal compilers of the Encyclopedia, all men of talents,
atheists and in the like manner abandoned.
"The principle parts of this system were:
"1. The compilation of the Encyclopedia: in which with
great art and insidiousness the doctrines of ... Christian
theology were rendered absurd and ridiculous; and the mind
of the reader was insensibly steeled against conviction and
"2. The overthrow of the religious orders in Catholic
countries, a step essentially necessary to the destruction
of the religion professed in those countries.
"3. The establishment of a sect of philosophists to
serve, it is presumed as a conclave, a rallying point, for
all their followers.
"4. The appropriation to themselves, and their disciples,
of the places and honors of members of the French Academy,
the most respectable literary society in France, and always
considered as containing none but men of prime learning and
talents. In this way they designed to hold out themselves
and their friends as the only persons of great literary and
intellectual distinction in that country, and to dictate all
literary opinions to the nation.
"5. The fabrication of books of all kinds against
Christianity, especially such as excite doubt and generate
contempt and derision. Of these they issued by themselves
and their friends who early became numerous, an immense
number; so printed as to be purchased for little or nothing,
and so written as to catch the feelings, and steal upon the
approbation, of every class of men.
"6. The formation of a secret Academy, of which Voltaire
was the standing president, and in which books were formed,
altered, forged, imputed as posthumous to deceased writers
of reputation, and sent abroad with the weight of their
names. These were printed and circulated at the lowest price
through all classes of men in an uninterrupted succession,
and through every part of the kingdom."
After reading Dwight's address, it appears that there may
be the workings of a new novel, "The Voltaire Code," in
which Dan Brown could be a chief protagonist.
We could mimic the detective sleuthing of "The DaVinci
Code," where our search would also begin in Paris, at
Voltaire's enormous sarcophagus, opposite Rousseau's. But,
low and behold, his remains were stolen in 1814 and dumped
in a garbage heap. Upon a little more inspection, we
discover that his heart had been previously removed from his
body and is in Paris' Bibliotheque Nationale. His brain,
also removed, disappeared after an auction.
As "The Voltaire Code" movie concludes, we hear the
closing line of Timothy Dwight's address: "To destroy us
therefore ... our enemies must first ... seduce us from the
house of God."
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