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Age of Reason

Thomas Paine rev1.jpg

Theist, Deist, Atheist, Agnostic:

A theist believes there is a God who made and governs all creation; but does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, nor in a divine revelation.

A deist believes there is a God who created all things, but does not believe in His superintendence and government. He thinks the Creator implanted in all things certain immutable laws, called the Laws of Nature, which act per se, as a watch acts without the supervision of its maker. Like the theist, he does not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, nor in a divine revelation.

The atheist disbelieves even the existence of a God. He thinks matter is eternal, and what we call “creation” is the result of natural laws.

The agnostic believes only what is knowable. He rejects revelation and the doctrine of the Trinity as “past human understanding.” He is neither theist, deist, nor atheist, as all these are past understanding.

The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of Christianity. Published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, it was a bestseller in the United States, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. British audiences, however, fearing increased political radicalism as a result of the French Revolution, received it with more hostility. The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) -- writer and revolutionary -- best known for his writings supporting American independence, was indicted for treason in England in 1792 for his work The Rights of Man, defending the French Revolution. More than one English publisher was also prosecuted for printing The Age of Reason, where Paine argues for Deism [Deism; combines a rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge with the conclusion that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a single creator of the universe] and against Christianity and Atheism.

Thomas Paine wrote the populist pamphlet, Common Sense, a clarion call for American independence and democracy. Driven by desire for freedom and justice, Paine's thinking reflected French and English writers like Rousseau, Burke, Locke, others in the "philosophy" movement, today called The Enlightenment.

In defense of the French Revolution and as a response to Burke, who had promptly condemned the French rebellion, Paine wrote and published  The Right of Man, part I appeared in early 1791, part II in February 1792.

Guided by his ideals more than the facts of "Madame Guillotine" and "The Terror" under Robspierre, Paine declared that governments exist to guard the natural rights of the individuals unable to ensure their rights without government's help. Four key rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. In Part I, he argued for a republic governed under a constitution with a bill of rights, elected leaders serving limited terms, and a judiciary accountable to the general public. He called for equal suffrage for all men, (a true fellow of his times, dear women, sorry) and the end of social divisions by virtue of birth or rank or economics or religion. In Part II, Paine suggested social legislation to remove class inequities.

Paine's fervent hope was that Rights of Man would inspire in England the same revolutionary thirst for independence from monarchy as Common Sense inspired in America. Instead, despite selling about 200,000 copies by 1793, the pamphlet was suppressed by the government of William Pitt, who was unable to get his hands on Paine (still a British citizen), since Paine was safe in France. Pitt had Paine tried in absentia before the loyalists, convicting Paine of treason. England outlawed its native son in December 1792.

Paine was intrigued by the philosophies, the French social thinkers and encyclopedia creators who upheld scientific reasoning over irrational religious dogma, who posited that the mind is great, capable of knowing anything in time with diligent research, who saw the cosmos as the creation of one rational God who set the universe in motion with natural laws at work, like winding the precision clockwork, then turning humanity loose to govern ourselves by becoming educated enough to exercise our free will with self restraint within democratic laws. These thinkers called themselves "deists." Defined by Websters as "One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason."

Paine completed and published his critique of religion, The Age of Reason, with Part I in 1794 and Part II in 1796. "I believe in one God, and no more," he begins, "and I hope for happiness beyond this life."

Paine was a deist, not an atheist.The Age of Reason profers his metaphysical beliefs. He saw God as first cause and designer of the universe. God is knowable through the sciences and mathematics, through use of reason and natural intelligence. (Experiencing God through his heart or transcendent spirit also concerned Paine, but as a man of the mind, certainty of God had to came through his brain.) Christians do not try to know God in a reasonable way, he wrote. They rely upon a Bible, riddled with inconsistencies, subject to interpretation, therefore fallible. He compared the mythology of the Trinity with the paternity of Zeus, still a provocative analogy. Having dispensed with Christianity, Paine spoke again about his deist God as the power and wisdom anyone can witness, evidenced "in the immensity of the creation, ...in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible is governed."

Thomas Paine died at age 70 in New York on 8 June 1809. He did not expect a Christian burial in sacred ground after The Age of Reason. So stories about deathbed repentance likely are propaganda. Paine was buried in a corner of his new Rochelle farm. A decade later in 1819, one of Paine's harshest critics during the Nineties, William Cobbett, apparently moved to atone for his attacks, had Paine's bones dug up and transported to England for re-burial under a patriotic monument Cobbett planned to build. Cobbett died in 1835 with the memorial never erected. His English probate court assigned the old bones to a receiver. The fate of Paine's mortal remains today remains a mystery.
The Age of Reason
By  Thomas Paine
Table of Contents

Chapter I - The author's profession of faith
Chapter II - Of missions and revelations 
Chapter III - Concerning the character of Jesus Christ, and his history 
Chapter IV - Of  the bases of Christianity
Chapter V - Examination in detail of the preceding bases 
Chapter VI - Of  the true theology
Chapter VII - Examination Of The Old Testament
Chapter VIII - Of  the New Testament
Chapter IX - In what the true revelation consists 
Chapter X - Concerning God, and the lights cast on his existence and attributes by the Bible
Chapter XI - Of  the theology of the Christians; and the true theology 
Chapter XII - The Effects Of Christianism On Education; Proposed Reforms
Chapter XIII - Comparison of Christianism with the religious ideas inspired by nature
Chapter XIV - System of  the universe 
Chapter XV - Advantages of the existence of many worlds in each solar system
Chapter XVI - Applications of  the preceding to the system of  the Christians
Chapter XVII - Of  the means employed in all time, and almost universally, to deceive the peoples
Source: http://www.ghazali.net/book9/Table_of_Contents/table_of_contents.html
Download as book:
Pdf: http://www.deism.com/images/theageofreason1794.pdf
Other formats: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3743

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Critique of Judgement & Critique of Pure Reason are two major works by Emmanuel Kant. Kant 1724 -1804 was a German philosopher who publishes a number of works on ethics, religion, law, aesthetics, astronomy, and history. Kant’s Magnus Opus is  the Critique of Pure Reason (originally written in German with the title: Kritik der reinen Vernunft from 1781), aimed to unite European thinking with experience to move beyond what he understood as failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He set  out to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were used to support what he saw as futile theories, while opposing the skepticism of thinkers such as Descartes, Berkeley and Hume. Download the Public Domain versions of his works here as PDF ebooks (890 and 480 pages):

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