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Encyclopedia > The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason

Title page from the first English edition of Part I
Author Thomas Paine
Country England and France
Language English and French
Publisher
Publication date 1793 or 1794
Published in English 1794

The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, critiques institutionalized religion and disputes the inerrancy of the Bible. Published in three parts in 1794, 1795 and 1807, it was a bestseller in America, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. British audiences, however, fearing increased political radicalism associated with the French revolution, received it with more hostility. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 371 × 598 pixelsFull resolution (398 × 642 pixel, file size: 23 KB, MIME type: image/png) Paine, Thomas. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... In political geography and international politics, a country is a political division of a geographical entity, a sovereign territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation and government. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a larger period which includes the Age of Reason. ... Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (June 21, 1905 – April 15, 1980), normally known simply as Jean-Paul Sartre (pronounced: ), was a French existentialist philosopher and pioneer, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist and critic. ... Jean Paul Satres novel The Age of Reason (1945) is set against the background of the bohemian Paris of the late 1930s. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies that... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position... For other uses, see Ceremonial deism. ... A revival meeting is a series of Christian religious services held with an eye to encourage active members of a religious body and to provoke those outside of it to become part of it. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on...


The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights the corruption of the Christian church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as an ordinary piece of literature rather than as a divinely-inspired text. Yet, The Age of Reason is not atheistic: it promotes natural religion and argues for belief in a creator-god. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      A Christian () is a person who... Revelation This article is about prophecy. ... A miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning something wonderful, is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified. ... For information about the band, see Atheist (band). ... Natural theology is the knowledge of God accessible to all rational human beings without recourse to any special or supposedly supernatural revelation. ...


Most of Paine's arguments had long been available to the educated elite, but by presenting them in an engaging and irreverent style, he made deism appealing and accessible to a mass audience. The book was also inexpensive, putting it within the reach of a large number of buyers. Fearing the spread of what they viewed as potentially revolutionary ideas, the British government prosecuted printers and booksellers who tried to publish and distribute it.


The Age of Reason resulted in only a brief upsurge in deistic thought in America. However, Paine's ideas inspired and guided many British freethinkers of the nineteenth century and his rhetorical style has endured even into the present era, in the works of modern writers such as Christopher Hitchens and filmmakers like Michael Moore. The word freethinker has different meanings: A freethinker is a proponent of the philosophical practice known as Freethinking, thus being a practitioner of Freethought. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949) is an Anglo-American author, journalist and literary critic. ... Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American political-activist, a film director, author, social commentator, and political humorist. ...

Contents

Historical context

Intellectual context: Eighteenth-century British deism

Paine's book followed in the tradition of early eighteenth-century British deists. These writers, while maintaining distinct positions, were united by several sets of assumptions and arguments that Paine articulates in The Age of Reason. The most important position uniting the early deists is their call for "free rational inquiry" into all subjects, especially religion. They demanded religious toleration and an end to religious persecution, claiming that early Christianity was founded on freedom of conscience. After free speech and toleration, the most important element of eighteenth-century deism is its emphasis on reason and rationality. Deists embraced a Newtonian worldview; that is, they believed all things in the universe, even God, must obey the laws of nature. Without a concept of natural law, the deists argued, explanations of the workings of nature would descend into irrationality. This belief in natural law drove their skepticism of miracles. Because miracles had to be observed to be validated, deists rejected the accounts laid out in the Bible of God's miracles and argued that such evidence was neither sufficient nor necessary to prove the existence of God. Along these lines, deistic writings insist that God is only the first cause or prime mover and not a deity who interferes in the daily lives of individuals. Deists thus rejected the claim that there was only one revealed religious "truth" or one true faith; religion could only be "simple, apparent, ordinary, and universal" if it was to be the logical product of a benevolent God. They therefore distinguished between "revealed religions", such as Christianity, and "natural religion", a set of universal beliefs derived from the natural world that demonstrated God's existence (they were, thus, not atheists).[1] Deism is belief in a God or first cause based on reason, rather than on faith or revelation, and thus a form of theism in opposition to fideism. ... The cross of the war memorial and a menorah for Hanukkah coexist in Oxford. ... Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience) is the freedom of an individual to hold a viewpoint, or thought, regardless of anyone elses view. ... Sir Isaac Newton FRS (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727][1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist. ... Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) is an ethical theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. ... A miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning something wonderful, is a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified. ... Categories: Wikipedia cleanup | Stub | Philosophy of science | Religious Philosophy | Theology ... The cosmological argument is a metaphysical argument for the existence of God, traditionally known as an argument from universal causation, an argument from first cause, and also as an uncaused cause argument. ... For information about the band, see Atheist (band). ...


While some deists accepted revelation, most argued that revelation's restriction to small groups or even a single person limited its explanatory power. Moreover, many found the multiplicity of Christian revelations in particular contradictory and irreconcilable. According to these writers, revelation can reinforce the evidence for God's existence already apparent in the natural world, but more often it leads to superstition among the masses. Most deists argued that priests had deliberately corrupted Christianity for their own gain by promoting the acceptance of miracles, unnecessary rituals and illogical and dangerous doctrines (these accusations were typically referred to as "priestcraft"). The worst of these doctrines was original sin. By convincing people that they required a priest's help to overcome their innate sinfulness, deists argued, religious leaders had enslaved the human population. Deists therefore typically viewed themselves as intellectual liberators.[2] Revelation This article is about prophecy. ... For other uses, see Ceremonial deism. ... According to Christian tradition, original sin is the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born (Psalm 51:5). ...

George Cruikshank's The Radical's Arms (1819), pillorying the excesses of the French revolution
George Cruikshank's The Radical's Arms (1819), pillorying the excesses of the French revolution

Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (573x800, 1240 KB) en: The Radicals Arms de: Die Waffen der Radikalen Erstmalig publiziert: 13. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (573x800, 1240 KB) en: The Radicals Arms de: Die Waffen der Radikalen Erstmalig publiziert: 13. ... Portrait of George Cruikshank Wood engraving published in Harpers Weekly newspaper March 16, 1878 A Young George Cruikshank George Cruikshank (September 27, 1792—February 1, 1878) was an English caricaturist and book illustrator. ...

Political context: French revolution

By the time Part I of The Age of Reason was published in 1794, many British and French citizens had become disillusioned by the French revolution. The reign of terror had begun, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been tried and executed and Britain was at war with France. Those few British radicals who still supported the French revolution and its ideals were viewed with deep suspicion by their countrymen. The Age of Reason belongs to this later, more radical stage of the British political reform movement, one that openly embraced republicanism and atheism and is exemplified by such texts as William Godwin's Political Justice (1793). The moderate voices had disappeared: Richard Price, the Dissenting minister whose sermon on political liberty had prompted Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), had died in 1791, and Joseph Priestley had been forced to flee to America after a Church–and–King mob burned down his home and church.[3] The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on... reign of terror, or the terror, see terror The Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794) or simply The Terror (French: la Terreur) was a period of about ten months during the French Revolution when struggles between rival factions led to mutual radicalization which took on a violent... Louis XVI Louis XVI (August 23, 1754 - January 21, 1793), was King of France and Navarre from 1774 until 1791, and then King of the French in 1791-1792. ... Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France and Archduchess of Austria (born November 1755 – executed 16 October 1793) Daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, wife of Louis XVI and mother of Louis XVII. She was guillotined at the height of the French Revolution. ... The name First Coalition (1793–1797) designates the first major concerted effort of multiple European powers to contain Revolutionary France. ... Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, with an emphasis on liberty, rule by the people, and the civic virtue practiced by citizens. ... “Atheist” redirects here. ... William Godwin William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English political and miscellaneous writer, considered one of the important precursors of both utilitarian and liberal anarchist thought. ... Richard Price (February 23, 1723 – April 19, 1791), was a Welsh moral and political philosopher. ... English Dissenters were dissenters from England who opposed State interference in religious matters and founded their own communities over the 16th to 18th century period. ... Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729[1] – July 9, 1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who served for many years in the British House of Commons as a member of the Whig party. ... Reflections on the Revolution in France is a work of political commentary written by Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, first published on 1 November 1790. ... Joseph Frederick Priestley is often credited for the discovery of oxygen. ... The Priestley Riots were a set of riots, which took place in Birmingham, England, in 1791, and were named after Joseph Priestley, one of their targets. ...


The conservative government, headed by William Pitt, responded to this increasing radicalization by prosecuting several reformers for seditious libel and treason in the famous 1794 Treason Trials. Following the trials and an attack on George III, conservatives were successful in passing the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treasonable Practices Act (also known as the "Two Acts" or the "gagging acts"). These acts prohibited freedom of assembly for groups such as the radical London Corresponding Society (LCS) and encouraged indictments against radicals for "libelous and seditious" statements. Afraid of prosecution and disenchanted with the French revolution, many reformers drifted away from the cause. The LCS, which had previously helped unify Dissenters and political reformers, fractured when Francis Place and other leaders helped Paine publish The Age of Reason; the society’s more religious members withdrew in protest and the LCS lost around one-fifth of its membership.[4] William Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was a British politician of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. ... Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. ... Traitor redirects here. ... Thomas Hardys account of the trials (second edition) The 1794 Treason Trials, arranged by the administration of William Pitt, were intended to cripple the British radical movement of the 1790s. ... George III (George William Frederick) (4 June 1738–29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain, and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until 1 January 1801, and thereafter King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. ... The Seditious Meetings Act, approved by the British Parliament in November 1795, was the second of the well known Two acts (also known as the Gagging Acts or the Grenville and Pitt Bills). Its purpose was to restrict the size of public meetings to fifty persons. ... The Treasonable Practices Act was one of two acts introduced by the government in the wake of the stoning of King George III on his way to open parliament in 1795, the other being the Seditious Meetings Act 1795. ... Group of women holding placards with political activist slogans: know your courts - study your politicians, Liberty in law, Law makers must not be law breakers, and character in candidates photo 1920 Freedom of assembly is the freedom to associate with, or organize any groups, gatherings, clubs, or organizations that one... London Corresponding Society; a moderate-radical body concentrating on parliamentary reform in the 1790s. ... Francis Place (3rd November, 1771 - 1st January, 1854) was an early supporter of contraceptives, and a radical of the early nineteenth century who befriended and supported many important figures, including Joseph Hume, Sir Francis Burdett, and Jeremy Bentham. ...


Publication history

In December of 1792, Paine's The Rights of Man, part II was declared seditious in Britain and he was forced to flee to France in order to avoid arrest. Dismayed by the French revolution's turn toward secularism and atheism, he composed Part I of The Age of Reason in 1792 and 1793: Thomas Paine wrote the Rights of Man in 1791 as a reply to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, and as such, it is a work glorifying the French Revolution. ... Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on...

It has been my intention, for several years past, to publish my thoughts upon religion. . . . The circumstance that has now taken place in France of the total abolition of the whole national order of priesthood, and of everything appertaining to compulsive systems of religion, and compulsive articles of faith, has not only precipitated my intention, but rendered a work of this kind exceedingly necessary, lest in the general wreck of superstition, of false systems of government and false theology, we lose sight of morality, of humanity and of the theology that is true.[5]

Although Paine wrote The Age of Reason for the French, he dedicated it to his "Fellow Citizens of the United States of America", alluding to his bond with the American revolutionaries.[6] John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies that...


It is unclear when exactly Paine drafted Part I. According to Paine scholars Edward Davidson and William Scheick, he probably wrote the first draft of Part I in late 1793,[7] but Paine biographer David Hawke argues for a date of early 1793.[8] It is also unclear whether or not a French edition of Part I was published in 1793.[7] François Lanthenas, who translated The Age of Reason into French in 1794, wrote that it was first published in France in 1793, but no book fitting his description has been positively identified.[9] Joel Barlow published the first English edition of The Age of Reason, Part I in 1794 in London, selling it for a mere three pence. Joel Barlow (March 24, 1754-December 24, 1812), American poet and politician, born in Redding, Fairfield County, Connecticut. ... Above: A variety of coins considered to be lower-value, including an Irish 2p piece and many US pennies. ...


Meanwhile, Paine, considered too moderate by the powerful Jacobin wing of French revolutionaries, was imprisoned for ten months. He only escaped the guillotine by accident: the sign marking him out for execution was improperly placed on his cell door.[10] When James Monroe secured his release in 1794, he immediately began work on Part II of The Age of Reason, despite his poor health. Part II was first published in a pirated edition by H.D. Symonds in London in October 1795. In 1796 Daniel Isaac Eaton published Parts I and II, at the cost of one shilling, six pence. (Eaton was later forced to flee to America after being convicted of seditious libel for publishing other radical works.[11]) Paine himself financed the shipping of 15,000 copies of his work to America. Later, Francis Place and Thomas Williams collaborated on an edition which sold about 2,000 copies. Williams also produced his own edition, but the British government indicted him and confiscated the pamphlets.[12] In the late 1790s, Paine fled from France to the United States, where he wrote Part III of The Age of Reason. Fearing unpleasant and even violent reprisals, Thomas Jefferson convinced him not to publish it in 1802; five years later Paine decided to publish despite the backlash he knew would ensue.[7] It has been suggested that Jacobin/Sandbox be merged into this article or section. ... Historic replicas (1:6 scale) of the two main types of French guillotines: Model 1792, left, and Model 1872 (state as of 1907), right The guillotine is a device used for carrying out executions by decapitation. ... James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825), and the fourth Virginian to hold the office. ... Before decimalisation in 1971, a shilling had a value of 12d (old pence), and was equal to 1/20th of a pound: there were 240 (old) pence to the pound. ... Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. ... Francis Place (3rd November, 1771 - 1st January, 1854) was an early supporter of contraceptives, and a radical of the early nineteenth century who befriended and supported many important figures, including Joseph Hume, Sir Francis Burdett, and Jeremy Bentham. ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ...


Following Thomas Williams's sentence of one year's hard labor for publishing The Age of Reason in 1797, no editions were sold openly in Britain until 1818 when Richard Carlile included it in an edition of Paine's complete works. Carlile charged one shilling sixpence for the work, and the first run of 1,000 copies sold out in a month. He immediately published a second edition of 3,000 copies. Like Williams, he was prosecuted for seditious libel and blasphemous libel. The prosecutions surrounding the printing of The Age of Reason in Britain continued for thirty years after its initial release and encompassed numerous publishers as well as over a hundred booksellers.[13] Richard Carlile (9 December 1790 – 10 February 1843) was an important agitator for the establishment of universal suffrage and freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Structure and major arguments

The Age of Reason is divided into three sections. In Part I, Paine outlines his major arguments and personal creed. In Parts II and III he analyzes specific portions of the Bible in order to demonstrate that it is not the revealed word of God.


Creed

An oil painting of Thomas Paine by Auguste Millière (1880), after an engraving by William Sharp, after a portrait by George Romney (1792)
An oil painting of Thomas Paine by Auguste Millière (1880), after an engraving by William Sharp, after a portrait by George Romney (1792)

At the beginning of Part I of the Age of Reason, Paine lays out his personal creed: radical thinker! File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... radical thinker! File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... William Sharp (January 29, 1749 - July 25, 1824), was an English line-engraver born in London. ... Portrait of Miss Willoughby, second half of 18th century. ...

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.[14]

Paine's creed encapsulates many of the major themes of the rest of his text: a firm belief in a creator-God; a skepticism regarding most supernatural claims (here the afterlife, later in the text, miracles); a conviction that virtues should be derived from a consideration for others rather than oneself; an animus against corrupt religious institutions; and an emphasis on the individual's right of conscience.[15]


Reason and revelation

Paine begins The Age of Reason by attacking revelation. Revelation, he maintains, can only be verified by the individual receivers of the message. "Hearsay" revelation is weak evidence for God's existence, Paine contends, writing “it is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.”[16] Moreover, he points out that the Christian revelations appear to have altered over time to adjust for changing political circumstances. Urging his readers therefore to employ reason rather than to rely on revelation, Paine argues that the only reliable, unchanging and universal evidence of God's existence is the natural world. "The Bible of the Deist", he contends, should not be a human invention such as the Bible, but rather a divine invention—it should be "creation."[17] Paine takes this argument even further, maintaining that the same rules of logic and standards of evidence that govern the analysis of secular texts should be applied to the Bible. In Part II of The Age of Reason, he will do just this, pointing out contradictions in the text. This emphasis on reason also leads him to reject miracles and prophecies. [18] Revelation This article is about prophecy. ...


Paine's analysis of the Bible

Paine questions the sacredness of the Bible, analyzing it as one would any other book. For example, in his analysis of the Book of Proverbs he argues that its sayings are “inferior in keenness to the proverbs of the Spaniards, and not more wise and economical than those of the American Franklin.”[19] Describing the Bible as "fabulous mythology", Paine questions whether or not it was revealed to its writers and doubts that the original writers can ever be known (he dismisses the idea that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, for example). Using methods that would not become common in Biblical scholarship until the nineteenth century, Paine tested the Bible for internal consistency and questioned its historical accuracy, concluding that it was not divinely-inspired. He argues that the Old Testament and the New Testament must be false because they depict a tyrannical God. The "history of wickedness" pervading the Bible convinced Paine that it was simply another set of human-authored myths and not the revealed word of God.[20] The Book of Proverbs is one of the books of the Ketuvim of the Tanakh and of the Writings of the Old Testament. ... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Look up Pentateuch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh to refer to its canon, which corresponds to the Protestant Old Testament. ... This article is about the Christian scriptures. ...


Paine’s arguments against the Bible often undercut his own earlier works, which rely to a large extent on appeals to Scripture; but as Paine scholar David Wilson writes, "Paine often sacrificed logical coherence to immediate polemical advantage."[21]

Image File history File links Size of this preview: 325 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (405 × 746 pixel, file size: 14 KB, MIME type: image/png) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 325 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (405 × 746 pixel, file size: 14 KB, MIME type: image/png) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... Thomas Paine wrote the Rights of Man in 1791 as a reply to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, and as such, it is a work glorifying the French Revolution. ...

Religion and the state

Paine also attacks religious institutions, indicting priests for their lust for power and wealth and the church's opposition to scientific investigation. He presents the history of Christianity as one of corruption and oppression.[22] Paine criticizes the tyrannical actions of the Church as he had those of governments in the Rights of Man and Common Sense, claiming that “the Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient Mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue.”[23] This kind of attack distinguishes Paine's book from other deistic works, which were less interested in challenging social and political hierarchies.[8] He argues that the Church and the State are a single corrupt institution which does not act in the best interests of the people—both must be radically altered: Thomas Paine wrote the Rights of Man in 1791 as a reply to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, and as such, it is a work glorifying the French Revolution. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

Soon after I had published the pamphlet "Common Sense," in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it has taken place . . . has so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more.[24]

As Jon Mee, a scholar of British radicalism, writes: "Paine believed . . . a revolution in religion was the natural corollary, even prerequisite, of a fully successful political revolution."[25] Paine lays out a vision of, in Davidson and Scheick's words, “an age of intellectual freedom, when reason would triumph over superstition, when the natural liberties of humanity would supplant priestcraft and kingship, which were both secondary effects of politically managed foolish legends and religious superstitions.”[26] It is this vision that scholars have called Paine’s “secular millennialism” and it appears in all of his works—he ends the Rights of Man, for example, with the statement: “From what we now see, nothing of reform in the political world ought to be held improbable. It is an age of revolutions, in which everything may be looked for.”[27] Paine "transformed the millennial Protestant vision of the rule of Christ on earth into a secular image of utopia," emphasizing the possibilities of "progress" and "human perfectibility" that could be achieved by humankind, without God's aid.[28] Millennialism (or chiliasm), from millennium, which literally means thousand years, is primarily a belief expressed in some Christian denominations, and literature, that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth where Christ will reign prior to the final judgment and future eternal state, primarily derived from the book...


Paine's intellectual debts

Although Paine liked to say that he read very little, his writings belie this statement;[29] The Age of Reason has intellectual roots in the works of David Hume, Spinoza and Voltaire. Since Hume had already made many of the same "moral attacks upon Christianity" that Paine popularized in The Age of Reason, scholars have concluded that Paine probably read Hume's works on religion or had at least heard about them from his friends in the Johnson Circle. Paine would have been particularly drawn to Hume’s description of religion as "a positive source of harm to society" that "led men to be factious, ambitious and intolerant."[30] More influential than Hume, however, was Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-politicus (1678). Paine would have been exposed to Spinoza’s ideas through the works of other eighteenth-century deists, most notably Conyers Middleton.[31] Paine would also more than likely have been familiar with Voltaire's mocking wit and the works of other deistic French philosophes. David Hume (April 26, 1711 – August 25, 1776)[1] was a Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian. ... Baruch Spinoza Benedictus de Spinoza (November 24, 1632 - February 21, 1677), named Baruch Spinoza by his synagogue elders and known as Bento de Spinoza or Bento dEspiñoza in the community in which he grew up. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Only known portrait of Joseph Johnson by William Sharp (after Moses Haughton)[1] Joseph Johnson (15 November 1738 – 20 December 1809) was an influential eighteenth-century London bookseller, often called the father of the book trade in England. ... Written by the philosopher and pantheist Baruch Spinoza, the Theologico-Political Treatise or Tractatus Theologico-Politicus was an early criticism of religious intolerance and a defense of secular government. ... Conyers Middleton (December 27, 1683 - July 28, 1750), English divine, was born at Richmond in Yorkshire. ... The Philosophes (French for Philosophers) were a group of French thinkers of the 18th century Enlightenment. ...


Though these larger philosophical traditions are clear influences on The Age of Reason, Paine owes the greatest intellectual debt to the English deists of the early eighteenth century, such as Peter Annet.[32] John Toland had argued for the use of reason in interpreting scripture, Matthew Tindal had argued against revelation, Middleton had described the Bible as mythology and questioned the existence of miracles, Thomas Morgan had disputed the claims of the Old Testament, Thomas Woolston had questioned the believability of miracles and Thomas Chubb had maintained that Christianity lacked morality. All of these arguments appear in The Age of Reason, albeit less coherently.[33] Deism is belief in a God or first cause based on reason, rather than on faith or revelation, and thus a form of theism in opposition to fideism. ... Peter Annet (1693-1769), English deist, is said to have been born at Liverpool. ... John Toland (November 30, 1670 - March 11, 1722) Very little is known about his true origins other than the fact that he was born in Ardagh on the Inishowen Peninsula, a predominantly Catholic and Irish speaking region, in north west Ulster. ... Matthew Tindal (c. ... Thomas Morgan (d. ... Thomas Woolston (1669 - January 21, 1731), English deist, born at Northampton in 1669, the son of a reputable tradesman, entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1685, studied theology, took orders and was made a fellow of his college. ... Thomas Chubb, 1747 Thomas Chubb, (September 29, 1679 – February 8, 1747), was an English Deist, born near Salisbury. ...


Rhetoric and style

The most distinctive feature of The Age of Reason, like all of Paine's works, is its linguistic style. Renowned historian Eric Foner argues that Paine's works "forged a new political language" designed to bring politics to the people, using a "clear, simple and straightforward" style.[34] Paine outlined "a new vision—a utopian image of an egalitarian republican society" and his language reflected these ideals.[34] He originated such phrases as “the rights of man,” “the age of reason,” “the age of revolution,” and “the times that try men’s souls.”[35] Foner also maintains that with The Age of Reason Paine “gave deism a new, aggressive, explicitly anti-Christian tone".[36] He did this by employing "vulgar" (that is, "low") language, an irreverent tone and even religious rhetoric. Eric Foner (born February 7, 1943 in New York City) is an American historian. ...


In a letter to Elihu Palmer, one of his most loyal followers in America, Paine describes part of his rhetorical philosophy: This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ...

The hinting and intimidating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind [religion], produced skepticism, but not conviction. It is necessary to be bold. Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it. Say a bold thing that will stagger them, and they will begin to think.[37]

Paine's rhetoric had broad appeal; his "pithy" lines were "able to bridge working-class and middle-class cultures" and become common quotations.[38]


Part of what makes Paine's style so memorable is his effective use of repetition and rhetorical questions[39] in addition to the profusion of "anecdote, irony, parody, satire, feigned confusion, folk matter, concrete vocabulary, and . . . appeals to common sense."[40] Paine's conversational style draws the reader into the text. His use of "we", often followed by present tense verbs, conveys an "illusion that he and the readers share the activity of constructing an argument."[41] By thus emphasizing the presence of the reader and leaving images and arguments half-formed, Paine encourages his readers to complete them independently.[42]


Vulgar language

The most distinctive element of Paine's style in The Age of Reason is its “vulgarity". In the eighteenth century "vulgarity" was associated with the middling and lower classes and not with obscenity, thus, when Paine celebrates his "vulgar" style and his critics attack it, the dispute is over class accessibility, not profanity. The irreverent tone that Paine combined with this vulgar style set his work apart from its predecessors. It took “deism out of the hands of the aristocracy and intellectuals and [brought] it to the people.”[43]


Paine's rhetorical appeal to "the people" attracted almost as much criticism as his ridicule of the Bible. Bishop Richard Watson, forced to address this new audience in his influential response to Paine, An Apology for the Bible, writes: "I shall, designedly, write this and the following letters in a popular manner; hoping that thereby they may stand a chance of being perused by that class of readers, for whom your work seems to be particularly calculated, and who are the most likely to be injured by it."[44] But it was not only the style that concerned Watson and others, it was also the cheapness of Paine's book. At one sedition trial in the early 1790s, the Attorney–General tried to prohibit Thomas Cooper from publishing his response to Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, arguing that "although there was no exception to be taken to his pamphlet when in the hands of the upper classes, yet the government would not allow it to appear at a price which would insure its circulation among the people."[45] Similar concerns drove the prosecution of those who printed, published and distributed The Age of Reason. Richard Watson (1781-1833) was a British Methodist theologian who was one of the most important figures in 19th century Methodism. ... Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. ...


Irreverent tone

Title page from the eighth edition of Bishop Watson's rejoinder to Paine
Title page from the eighth edition of Bishop Watson's rejoinder to Paine

Paine's style is not only “vulgar” (that is, "low"), it is also irreverent. For example, Paine describes Solomon as a rake, who “was witty, ostentatious, dissolute and at last melancholy;" he “lived fast, and died, tired of the world, at the age of fifty-eight years.”[46] Although many early English deists had relied on ridicule to attack the Bible and Christianity, theirs was a refined wit rather than the broad humor Paine employed. It was the early Deists of the middling ranks, and not the educated elite, who initiated the kind of ridicule Paine would make famous.[47] Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Richard Watson (1781-1833) was a British Methodist theologian who was one of the most important figures in 19th century Methodism. ... Artists depiction of Solomos court (Ingobertus, c. ... The Tavern Scene from A Rakes Progress by William Hogarth. ... Look up Wit in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


It was Paine's "ridiculing" tone that most angered churchmen. As John Redwood, a scholar of deism, puts it: "the age of reason could perhaps more eloquently and adequately be called the age of ridicule, for it was ridicule, not reason, that endangered the Church."[48] Significantly, Watson's Apology directly chastises Paine for his mocking tone:

I am unwilling to attribute bad designs, deliberate wickedness, to you or to any man; I cannot avoid believing, that you think you have truth on your side, and that you are doing service to mankind in endeavouring to root out what you esteem superstition. What I blame you for is this—that you have attempted to lessen the authority of the Bible by ridicule, more than by reason.[49]

Religious language

Paine’s Quaker upbringing predisposed him to deistic thinking at the same time that it positioned him firmly within the tradition of religious Dissent. Paine acknowledged that he was indebted to his Quaker background for his skepticism, but the Quakers' esteem for plain speaking, a value expressed both explicitly and implicitly in The Age of Reason, influenced his writing even more. As the historian E. P. Thompson has put it, Paine “ridiculed the authority of the Bible with arguments which the collier or country girl could understand.”[50] His description of the story of the Virgin Birth demystifies Biblical language and suggests that Mary was just another unfortunate fallen woman: it is “an account of a young woman engaged to be married, and while under this engagement she is, to speak plain language, debauched by a ghost.”[51] Quaker conversion narratives also influenced the style of The Age of Reason; Davidson and Scheick argue that its "introductory statement of purpose, a fervid sense of inward inspiration, a declared expression of conscience, and an evangelical intention to instruct others" resemble the personal confessions of American Quakers.[52] The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, or Friends, is a religious community founded in England in the 17th century. ... Deism is belief in a God or first cause based on reason, rather than on faith or revelation, and thus a form of theism in opposition to fideism. ... English Dissenters were dissenters from England who opposed State interference in religious matters and founded their own communities over the 16th to 18th century period. ... Edward Palmer Thompson (February 3, 1924 - August 28, 1993), was a British historian, socialist and peace campaigner. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ...


Paine takes advantage of several religious rhetorics beyond those associated with Quakerism in The Age of Reason, most importantly a millennial language that appealed to his lower-class readers. Claiming that true religious language is universal, Paine uses elements of the Christian rhetorical tradition to undermine the hierarchies perpetuated by religion itself.[53] Millenarianism (sometimes spelled millenarism or millennarism) is the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society after which all things will be changed in a positive (or sometimes negative or ambiguous) direction. ...


The sermonic quality of Paine’s writing is one of its most recognizable traits. Sacvan Bercovitch, a scholar of the sermon, argues that Paine’s writing often resembles that of the jeremiad or "political sermon." She contends that Paine draws on the Puritan tradition in which “theology was wedded to politics and politics to the progress of the kingdom of God.”[54] One reason Paine may have been drawn to this style is because he may have briefly been a Methodist preacher, although this fact cannot be verified.[55] Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      A sermon is an oration by... A Jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, that bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and often contains a prophecy of its coming downfall. ... A Puritan of 16th and 17th century England was any person seeking purity of worship and doctrine, especially the parties that rejected the Reformation of the Church of England. ... The Methodist movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity. ...


Reception and legacy

The Age of Reason provoked a hostile reaction from most readers and critics, although the intensity of that hostility varied by locality. There were four major factors for this animosity: Paine denied that the Bible was a sacred, inspired text; he argued that Christianity was a human invention; his ability to command a large readership frightened those in power; and his irreverent and satirical style of writing about Christianity and the Bible offended many believers.[26][56]

An Isaac Cruikshank cartoon attacking Paine; The caption reads: "The Age of Reason; or, the World turned Topsy-turvy exemplified in Paine's Works!"
An Isaac Cruikshank cartoon attacking Paine; The caption reads: "The Age of Reason; or, the World turned Topsy-turvy exemplified in Paine's Works!"

Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 572 pixelsFull resolution (1139 × 815 pixel, file size: 883 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Faithful reproductions of two-dimensional original works cannot attract copyright in the U.S. according to the rule in Bridgeman Art Library v. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 572 pixelsFull resolution (1139 × 815 pixel, file size: 883 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Faithful reproductions of two-dimensional original works cannot attract copyright in the U.S. according to the rule in Bridgeman Art Library v. ... Isaac Cruikshank, Debating Society (Substitute for Hair Powder). ...

Britain

Paine's Age of Reason sparked enough anger in Britain to initiate not only a series of government prosecutions but also a pamphlet war. Around 50 unfavorable replies appeared between 1795 and 1799 alone and refutations were still being published in 1812. Many of these responded specifically to Paine's attack on the Bible in Part II (when Thomas Williams was prosecuted for printing Part II, it became clear its circulation had far exceeded that of Part I).[57] Although critics responded to Paine's analysis of the Bible, they did not usually address his specific arguments. Instead, they advocated a literal reading of the Bible, citing the Bible's long history as evidence of its authority. They also issued ad hominem attacks against Paine, describing him "as an enemy of proper thought and of the morality of decent, enlightened people."[58] Dissenters such as Joseph Priestley who had endorsed the arguments of the Rights of Man turned away from those presented in The Age of Reason. Even the liberal Analytical Review was skeptical of Paine's claims and distanced itself from the book. Paine's deism was simply too radical for these more moderate reformers and they feared being tarred with the brush of extremism.[59] Biblical literalism is the supposed adherence to the explicit and literal sense of the Bible. ... English Dissenters were dissenters from England who opposed State interference in religious matters and founded their own communities over the 16th to 18th century period. ... Joseph Frederick Priestley is often credited for the discovery of oxygen. ... Thomas Paine wrote the Rights of Man in 1791 as a reply to Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, and as such, it is a work glorifying the French Revolution. ... Prospectus for the Analytical Review (1788) The Analytical Review was a periodical begun in 1788 by Joseph Johnson and Thomas Christie. ...


Despite the outpouring of antagonistic replies to The Age of Reason, some scholars have argued that Constantin Volney's deistic The Ruins—excerpted in radical papers such as Thomas Spence's Pig’s Meat and Daniel Isaac Eaton's Politics for the People—was actually more influential than The Age of Reason.[60] According to David Bindman, The Ruins "achieved a popularity in England comparable to Rights of Man itself."[61] However, one minister complained that "the mischief arising from the spreading of such a pernicious publication [as The Age of Reason] was infinitely greater than any that could spring from limited suffrage and septennial parliaments" (other popular reform causes).[62] Constantin François de ChassebÅ“uf, comte de Volney (February 3, 1757 - April 25, 1820) was a French philosopher, historian, orientalist, and politician. ... Thomas Spence (June 21, 1750 – September 8, 1814) was the Radical inventor of a system of land nationalization. ...


It was not until Richard Carlile's 1818 trial for publishing The Age of Reason that Paine's text became "the anti-Bible of all lower-class nineteenth-century infidel agitators."[63] Although the book had been selling well before the trial, once Carlile was arrested and charged, 4,000 copies were sold in just a few months.[64] At the trial itself, which created a media frenzy, Carlile read the entirety of The Age of Reason into the court record, ensuring it an even wider publication. Between 1818 and 1822, Carlile claimed to have "sent into circulation near 20,000 copies of the Age of Reason."[65] Just as in the 1790s, it was the language that most angered the authorities in 1818. As Joss Marsh, in her study of blasphemy in the nineteenth century, points out, "at these trials plain English was reconfigured as itself 'abusive' and 'outrageous.' The Age of Reason struggle almost tolled the hour when the words 'plain,' 'coarse,' 'common,' and 'vulgar' took on a pejorative meaning."[66] Carlile was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to one year in prison, but spent six years instead because he refused any "legal conditions" on his release.[67] Richard Carlile (9 December 1790 – 10 February 1843) was an important agitator for the establishment of universal suffrage and freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. ...


Paine's new rhetoric came to dominate popular nineteenth-century radical journalism, particularly that of freethinkers, Chartists and Owenites. Its legacy can be seen in Thomas Wooler's radical periodical The Black Dwarf, Richard Carlile's numerous newspapers and journals, Henry Hetherington's periodicals the Penny Papers and the Poor Man's Guardian, the works of the Chartist William Lovett, George Holyoake's newspapers and books on Owenism, and freethinker Charles Bradlaugh's New Reformer.[68] A century after the publication of the The Age of Reason, Paine's rhetoric was still being used: George Foote's "Bible Handbook (1888) . . . systematically manhandles chapters and verses to bring out 'Contradictions,' 'Absurdities,' 'Atrocities,' and 'Obscenities,' exactly in the manner of Paine’s Age of Reason."[69] The periodical The Freethinker (founded in 1881) argued, like Paine, that the "absurdities of faith" could be "slain with laughter."[70] In Britain, it was this freethinking tradition that continued Paine's legacy. The word freethinker has different meanings: A freethinker is a proponent of the philosophical practice known as Freethinking, thus being a practitioner of Freethought. ... A movement for social and political reform in the United Kingdom during the mid_19th century, Chartism gains its name from the Peoples Charter of 1838, which set out the main aims of the movement. ... Robert Owen (May 14, 1771 – November 17, 1858) was a Welsh socialist and social reformer. ... The publisher Thomas Jonathan Wooler (1786–29 October 1853) was active in the Radical movement of early 19th century Britain, best known for his satirical journal The Black Dwarf. ... The Black Dwarf was a satirical Radical journal of early 19th century Britain. ... Richard Carlile (9 December 1790 – 10 February 1843) was an important agitator for the establishment of universal suffrage and freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. ... Henry Hetherington, the son of a London tailor, was born in 1792. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... George Jacob Holyoake (April 13, 1817 - January 22, 1906), English secularist and co-operator, was born in Birmingham, England. ... Robert Owen (May 14, 1771 – November 17, 1858) was a Welsh socialist and social reformer. ... Charles Bradlaugh (26 September 1833 _ 30 January 1891) was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century. ... George William Foote (11 January, 1850 – 17 October, 1915) was a secularist and journal editor. ... For other uses of The Freethinker, see The Freethinker (disambiguation). ...


France

The Age of Reason, despite having been written for the French, made very little, if any, impact on revolutionary France. Paine wrote that "the people of France were running headlong into atheism and I had the work translated into their own language, to stop them in that career, and fix them to the first article . . . of every man's creed who has any creed at all – I believe in God" (emphasis Paine's).[71] Paine's arguments were already common and accessible in France; they had, in a sense, already been rejected.[72]


While still in France, Paine formed the Church of Theophilanthropy with five other families; this civil religion held as its central dogma that man should worship God's wisdom and benevolence and imitate those divine attributes as much as possible. The church had no priest or minister, and the traditional Biblical sermon was replaced by scientific lectures or homilies on the teachings of philosophers. it celebrated four festivals honoring St. Vincent de Paul, George Washington, Socrates and Rousseau.[73] Samuel Adams articulated the goals of this church when he wrote that Paine aimed "to renovate the age by inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy."[74] The church closed, however, in 1801, when Napoleon concluded a concordat with the Vatican.[75] George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... This page is about the ancient Greek philosopher. ... Rousseau is a French surname. ... For other uses, see Samuel Adams (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Napoleon (disambiguation). ...


United States

Thomas Jefferson, an American deist

In the United States, The Age of Reason initially caused a deistic "revival," but was then viciously attacked and soon forgotten. Paine became so reviled that he could still be maligned as a "filthy little atheist" by Theodore Roosevelt over one hundred years later.[76] Image File history File links T_Jefferson_by_Charles_Willson_Peale_1791_2. ... Image File history File links T_Jefferson_by_Charles_Willson_Peale_1791_2. ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. ...


At the end of the eighteenth century, America was ripe for Paine’s arguments. The First Great Awakening had, in demolishing the "Calvinist hegemony, created a climate of theological and speculative ambivalence"[77] that welcomed deistic positions. Ethan Allen published the first American defense of deism, the Oracles of Reason (1784), but deism remained primarily a philosophy of the educated elite. Men such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson espoused its tenets, while at the same time arguing that religion served the useful purpose of "social control."[78] It was not until the publication of Paine’s more entertaining and popular work that deism reached into the middling and lower classes in America. The public was receptive, in part, because they approved of the secular ideals of the French revolution.[79] The Age of Reason went through seventeen editions and sold thousands of copies in the Untied States.[80] Elihu Palmer, "a blind renegade minister" and Paine's most loyal follower in America, promoted deism throughout the country. Palmer published what became "the bible of American deism," The Principles of Nature,[81] established deistic societies from Maine to Georgia, built Temples of Reason throughout the nation, and founded two deistic newspapers for which Paine eventually wrote seventeen essays.[82] Foner writes that "The Age of Reason became the most popular deist work ever written. . . . Before Paine it had been possible to be both a Christian and a deist; now such a religious outlook became virtually untenable."[36] Paine presented deism to the masses and, as in Britain, educated elites feared the consequences of such material in the hands of so many. Their fear helped to drive the backlash which soon followed.[83] The First Great Awakening is name sometimes given to a period of heightened religious activity, primarily in the northeastern US during the 1730s and 1740s. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ...


Almost immediately after this deistic upsurge, the Second Great Awakening began. George Spater explains that "the revulsion felt for Paine’s Age of Reason and for other anti-religious thought was so great that a major counter-revolution had been set underway in America before the end of the eighteenth century.” By 1796 every student at Harvard was given a copy of Bishop Watson’s rebuttal of The Age of Reason.[84] In 1815, Parson Weems, an early American novelist and moralist, published God's Revenge Against Adultery, in which one of the major characters "owed his early downfall to reading 'PAINE'S AGE OF REASON'".[85] Paine's "libertine" text leads the young man to "bold slanders of the bible", even to the point that he "threw aside his father's good old family bible, and for a surer guide to pleasure took up the AGE OF REASON!"[86] The Second Great Awakening (1800–1830s) was the second great religious revival in United States history and consisted of renewed personal salvation experienced in revival meetings. ... Harvard University is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. ... Parson Weems Fable by Grant Wood (1939) Parson Mason Locke Weems (1756-1825) was an American printer and author known as the source for almost all of the half-truths about George Washington, the Father of his Country, including the famous tale of the cherry tree. ...


Paine could not publish An Examination of the Passages in the New Testament, Quoted from the Old and Called Prophecies Concerning Jesus Christ (part III of The Age of Reason) in America until 1807 because of the deep antipathy against him. Hailed only a few years earlier as a hero of the American revolution, Paine was now lambasted in the press and called "the scavenger of faction," a "lilly-livered sinical [sic] rogue," a "loathsome reptile," a "demi-human archbeast," "an object of disgust, of abhorrence, of absolute loathing to every decent man except the President of the United States [Thomas Jefferson]."[87] In October of 1805 John Adams wrote to his friend Benjamin Waterhouse, an American physician and scientist: John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution refers to the period during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies that... John Adams, Jr. ... Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (March 4, 1754 - October 2, 1846) was a Cambridge physician and medical professor, born into a Quaker family in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1754. ...

I am willing you should call this the Age of Frivolity as you do, and would not object if you had named it the Age of Folly, Vice, Frenzy, Brutality, Daemons, Buonaparte {sic], Tom Paine, or the Age of the Burning Brand from Bottomless Pit, or anything but the Age of Reason. I know not whether any man in the world has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine. There can be no severer satyr [sic] on the age. For such a mongrel between pig and puppy, begotten by a wild boar on a bitch wolf, never before in any age of the word was suffered by the poltroonery of mankind, to run through such a career of mischief. Call it then the Age of Paine.[88]

Michael Moore, "the new Tom Paine"[89]

Adams viewed Paine's Age of Reason not as the embodiment of the Enlightenment but as a "betrayal" of it.[90] Despite all of these attacks, Paine never wavered in his beliefs; when he was dying, a woman came to visit him, claiming that God had instructed her to save his soul. Paine dismissed her in the same tones that he had used in The Age of Reason: "pooh, pooh, it is not true. You were not sent with any such impertinent message. . . . Pshaw, He would not send such a foolish ugly old woman as you about with His message."[91] Image File history File linksMetadata Michaelmoore1. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Michaelmoore1. ... Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American political-activist, a film director, author, social commentator, and political humorist. ... The Age of Enlightenment (French: ; German: ) was an eighteenth century movement in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ...


The Age of Reason was largely ignored after 1820, except by radical groups in Britain. Not until the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859, and the large-scale abandonment of the literal reading of the Bible that it caused in Britain, did many of Paine's ideas take hold.[92] Yet, Paine's text is still published today, one of the few eighteenth-century religious texts to be widely available.[93] Its message still resonates, evidenced by Christopher Hitchens's statement that "if the rights of man are to be upheld in a dark time, we shall require an age of reason". His 2006 book on the Rights of Man ends with the claim that "in a time . . . when both rights and reason are under several kinds of open and covert attack, the life and writing of Thomas Paine will always be part of the arsenal on which we shall need to depend."[94] Paine's unique rhetorical flair is also still alive in American culture; it is embodied, for example, in the persona and the films of Michael Moore, who was been called "the new Tom Paine".[89] For other people of the same surname, and places and things named after Charles Darwin, see Darwin. ... Charles Darwins Origin of Species (publ. ... Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949) is an Anglo-American author, journalist and literary critic. ... Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American political-activist, a film director, author, social commentator, and political humorist. ...

See also

This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Herrick, 26-29; see also Claeys, 178-79; Kuklick, xiii.
  2. ^ Herrick, 30-39; see also Claeys, 178-79.
  3. ^ Butler, Marilyn. Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1981), 49; Bindman, 118.
  4. ^ Thompson, 148; Claeys, 190.
  5. ^ Paine, 49-50.
  6. ^ Smylie, 210; see also Davidson and Scheick, 70.
  7. ^ a b c Davidson and Scheick, 103-6.
  8. ^ a b Hawke, 292-94.
  9. ^ See Gimbel for a discussion of one possible copy of the 1793 French text.
  10. ^ Kuklick, xix-xxi.
  11. ^ Smith, 108.
  12. ^ Claeys, 187-88.
  13. ^ Bronowski, Julius. William Blake and the Age of Revolution. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (1965), 81; Claeys, 190; Wiener, 108-9.
  14. ^ Paine, 50.
  15. ^ As Walter Woll has noted in his book on Paine, there are "remarkable similarities" between Paine's creed and his friend Benjamin Franklin's; Woll, 138, note 1. Franklin's creed: "I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this."
  16. ^ Paine, 52.
  17. ^ Paine, 185.
  18. ^ Smylie, 207-209; Claeys, 181-82; Davidson and Scheick, 70-71.
  19. ^ Paine, 60-61; see also Davidson and Scheick, 49 and Fruchtman, 3-4; 28-9.
  20. ^ Smylie, 207-209; Claeys, 181-82; Davidson and Schieck, 64-65; 72-73.
  21. ^ Wilson, xv.
  22. ^ Smylie, 207-209; Claeys, 181; Davidson and Scheick, 79-82.
  23. ^ Paine, 53.
  24. ^ Paine, 51.
  25. ^ Mee, 162.
  26. ^ a b Davidson and Scheick, 18-19.
  27. ^ Qtd. in Foner, 216; see also Fruchtman, 157-8; Harrison, 80.
  28. ^ Foner, 91; see also Fruchtman, 157-8; Claeys, 183.
  29. ^ Robbins, 135-42.
  30. ^ Hole, 69.
  31. ^ Robbins, 140-41; Davidson and Schieck, 58.
  32. ^ In Annet, Paine is said to have a direct "forerunner" in deistic argumentation, advocacy of "freedom of expression and religious inquiry" and emphasis on "social reforms." Annet even concerned himself with the price of one of his controversial religious pamphlets. Such a concern is worthy of Paine. (Herrick 130-4)
  33. ^ Smylie, 209; Davidson and Schieck, 60ff.
  34. ^ a b Foner, xvi.
  35. ^ Foner, xv.
  36. ^ a b Foner, 247.
  37. ^ Qtd. in Clark, 317.
  38. ^ Kuklick, xi-xii.
  39. ^ Kuklick, xi-xii.
  40. ^ Davidson and Scheick, 100-101.
  41. ^ Smith, 53-4.
  42. ^ Smith, 56.
  43. ^ Foner, "Introduction," The Age of Reason, 35; see also Foot and Kramnick, 399.
  44. ^ Watson, 3.
  45. ^ Qtd. in Leslie Chard, "Bookseller to publisher: Joseph Johnson and the English book trade, 1760–1810." The Library (5th series) 32 (1977), 147.
  46. ^ Paine, 136.
  47. ^ Herrick, 52; 61-65; 80-81; Claeys, 104-105.
  48. ^ Redwood, 196.
  49. ^ Watson, 34.
  50. ^ Thompson, 98.
  51. ^ Paine, 156; see also Claeys, 102-103.
  52. ^ Davidson and Scheick, 99.
  53. ^ Smith, 183; Fruchtman, 4; 157.
  54. ^ Bercovitch, Sacvan. The American Jeremiad. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press (1978), xiv; see also Fruchtman, xi.
  55. ^ Davidson and Scheick, 28.
  56. ^ Smylie, 210; Claeys, 185-86.
  57. ^ Claeys, 187-8; Davidson and Scheick, 88.
  58. ^ Davidson and Scheick, 89.
  59. ^ Claeys, 184-85; 189.
  60. ^ Mee, 138
  61. ^ Bindman, 129.
  62. ^ Qtd. in Claeys, 185.
  63. ^ Marsh, 61.
  64. ^ Marsh, 67.
  65. ^ Qtd. in Marsh, 71.
  66. ^ Marsh, 74.
  67. ^ Wiener, 108-9.
  68. ^ Thompson, 94.
  69. ^ Marsh, 172.
  70. ^ Qtd. in Marsh, 137.
  71. ^ Qtd. in Claeys, 180.
  72. ^ Davidson and Scheick 88; Claeys 177.
  73. ^ Woll 149; Claeys, 183-84.
  74. ^ Qtd. in Harrison, 80.
  75. ^ Claeys, 34.
  76. ^ Foner, 270.
  77. ^ Walters, 31.
  78. ^ Walters, 8; Kuklick, xiii; xxii.
  79. ^ Walters, 27; 35-6.
  80. ^ Foner, 256; see also Claeys, 191.
  81. ^ Walters, 192.
  82. ^ Walters, 10.
  83. ^ Foner, 256.
  84. ^ Spater, 10; see also Claeys, 191-92.
  85. ^ Qtd. in Samuels, 184.
  86. ^ Qtd. in Samuels, 184.
  87. ^ Qtd. in Foner, "Introduction," The Age of Reason, 40; see also Claeys, 192.
  88. ^ Qtd. in Hawke, 7.
  89. ^ a b Porton, Richard. "Weapon of mass instruction Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11." Cineaste (22 September 2004). Retrieved on 20 July 2007.
  90. ^ Gaustad, Edwin S. Neither King nor Prelate: Religion and the New Nation, 1776-1826. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1993), 89.
  91. ^ Qtd. in Hawke, 390.
  92. ^ Woll, 197.
  93. ^ Claeys, 193.
  94. ^ Qtd. in Barrell, John. "The Positions He Takes." London Review of Books. 28.23 (30 November 2006). Retrieved on 20 July 2007.

Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... is the 201st day of the year (202nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... is the 201st day of the year (202nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ...

Some modern reprints of The Age of Reason

  • Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason. Ed. Philip S. Foner. New York: Citadel Press, 1974. ISBN 0806505494.
  • Paine, Thomas. Thomas Paine : Collected Writings. Ed. Eric Foner. Library of America, 1995. ISBN 1883011035.
  • Paine, Thomas. The Life and Major Writings of Thomas Paine. Ed. Philip S. Foner. Replica Books, 2000. ISBN 0735100772.
  • Paine, Thomas. The Thomas Paine Reader. Eds. Michael Foot and Isaac Kramnick. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0140444963.

Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ... Thomas Paine (Thetford, England, 29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809, New York City, USA) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, and intellectual. ...

Bibliography

  • Bindman, David. "'My own mind is my own church': Blake, Paine and the French Revolution." Reflections of Revolution: Images of Romanticism. Ed. Alison Yarrington and Kelvin Everest. London: Routledge, 1993. ISBN 0415077419.
  • Claeys, Gregory. Thomas Paine: Social and political thought. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989. ISBN 0044450893.
  • Clark, Harry Hayden. "Thomas Paine’s Theories of Rhetoric." Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters 28 (1933): 307-39.
  • Davidson, Edward H. and William J. Scheick. Paine, Scripture, and Authority: The Age of Reason as Religious and Political Idea. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 1994. ISBN 0934223297.
  • Dyck, Ian, ed. Citizen of the World: Essays on Thomas Paine. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. ISBN 0312013000.
  • Foner, Eric. Tom Paine and Revolutionary America. London: Oxford University Press, 1976. ISBN 0195021827.
  • Fruchtman, Jr., Jack. Thomas Paine and the Religion of Nature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. ISBN 0801845718.
  • Gimbel, Richard. "The First Appearance of Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason." Yale University Library Gazette 31 (1957): 87-89.
  • Harrison, J.F.C. "Thomas Paine and Millenarian Radicalism." Citizen of the World: Essays on Thomas Paine. Ed. Ian Dyck. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. ISBN 0312013000.
  • Hawke, David Freeman. Paine. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. ISBN 0060117842.
  • Herrick, James A. The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists: The Discourse of Skepticism, 1680-1750. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1997. ISBN 1570031665.
  • Hole, Robert. Pulpits, politics and public order in England, 1760-1832. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. ISBN 0521364868.
  • Marsh, Joss. Word Crimes: Blasphemy, Culture, and Literature in Nineteenth-Century England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. ISBN 0226506916.
  • Mee, Jon. Dangerous Enthusiasms: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. ISBN 0198122268.
  • Redwood, John. Reason, Ridicule and Religion: The Age of Enlightenment in England, 1660- 1750. London: Thames and Hudson, 1976. ISBN 0674749537.
  • Robbins, Caroline. “The Lifelong Education of Thomas Paine (1737-1809): Some Reflections upon His Acquaintance among Books.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 127.3 (1983): 135-42.
  • Royle, Edward, ed. The Infidel Tradition from Paine to Bradlaugh. London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1976. ISBN 0333174348.
  • Samuels, Shirley. "Infidelity and Contagion: The Rhetoric of Revolution." Early American Literature 22 (1987): 183-191.
  • Smith, Olivia. The Politics of Language, 1791-1819. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. ISBN 0198128177.
  • Smylie, James H. "Clerical Perspectives on Deism: Paine's The Age of Reason in Virginia." Eighteenth-Century Studies 6.2 (1972-3): 203-220.
  • Spater, George. "Introduction." Citizen of the World: Essays on Thomas Paine. Ed. Ian Dyck. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988. ISBN 0312013000.
  • Thompson, E.P. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Vintage Books, 1966.
  • Walters, Kerry S. Rational Infidels: The American Deists. Durango, CO: Longwood Academic, 1992. ISBN 089341641X.
  • Watson, Richard. An Apology for the Bible, in a Series of Letters, addressed to Thomas Paine. Philadelphia: James Carey, 1979.
  • Wiener, Joel H. "Collaborators of a Sort: Thomas Paine and Richard Carlile." Citizen of the World: Essays on Thomas Paine. Ed. Ian Dyck. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. ISBN 0312013000.
  • Wilson, David A. Paine and Cobbett: The Translatlantic Connection. Kingston and Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press, 1988. ISBN 0773510133.
  • Woll, Walter. Thomas Paine: Motives for Rebellion. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1992. ISBN 3631448007.

Eric Foner (born February 7, 1943 in New York City) is an American historian. ... Edward Palmer Thompson (February 3, 1924 - August 28, 1993), was a British historian, socialist and peace campaigner. ... Richard Watson (1781-1833) was a British Methodist theologian who was one of the most important figures in 19th century Methodism. ...

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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Age of Reason

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Age of Reason - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (389 words)
The Age of Reason is a philosophical treatise written by the 18th Century British intellectual Thomas Paine, best remembered as the author of the political pamphlet Common Sense, credited with exciting colonial opinion in support of the American Revolutionary War.
The Age of Reason, written in parts during the 1790s and dealing in a systematic examination of organized religion, advocates a skeptical and rational examination of religion known as Deism.
However, it is often ignored that central to this text is an argument in favor of the existence of a Creator, one based on reason and logic as opposed to the various fundamentalist modes of both religion and atheism.
Age of Enlightenment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4801 words)
The Age of Enlightenment refers to the 18th century in European philosophy, and is often thought of as part of a larger period which includes the Age of Reason.
Hobbes, whose ideas are a product of the age of reason, systematically pursues and categorizes human emotion, and argues for the need of a rigid system to hold back the chaos of nature in his work Leviathan.
Philosophers such as Michel Foucault are often understood as arguing that the "age of reason" had to construct a vision of "unreason" as being demonic and subhuman, and therefore evil and befouling, whence by analogy to argue that rationalism in the modern period is, likewise, a construction.
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