Skepticism in Montaigne's Day

A surprising and interesting passage from Sarah Bakewell’s How To Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question  and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, which I’m reading now:

There was only one exception to [Montaigne’s] “question everything” rule: he was careful to state that he considered his religious faith beyond doubt. He adhered to the received dogma of the Catholic Church, and that was that.

This can come as a surprise to modern readers. Today, Skepticism and organized religion are usually thought to occupy opposite sides of a divide, with the latter representing faith and authority while the former allies itself with science and reason. In Montaigne’s day, the lines were drawn differently. Science in the modern sense did not yet exist and human reason was only rarely considered something that could stand alone, unsupported by God. The idea that the human mind could find things out for itself was the very thing Skeptics were likely to be most skeptical about. And the Church currently favored faith over “rational theology,” so it naturally saw Pyrrhonism as an ally. Attacking human arrogance as it did, Pyrrhonian Skepticism was especially useful against the “innovation” of Protestantism, which prioritized private reasoning and conscience rather than dogmas.

Stephen Schenkenberg @schenkenberg