The Age of Reason

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Cosimo, Inc., 2005 - 220 pages
An idealist, a radical, and a master rhetorician, Thomas Paine wrote and lived with a keen sense of urgency and excitement.In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine declares that all religious traditions are ultimately established for the dependence of mankind. He openly criticizes the Bible and many of the fallacies contained within, as well as providing a shrewd analysis of Christianity and how it developed from its pagan ancestry-arguments many critics claim carry weight today.Paine alienated many of his countrymen with his incendiary viewpoints. Forced to leave America for England, Paine eventually returned to the United States in 1802, though he remained all but ostracized. He died in poverty seven years later in 1809.AUTHOR BIO: Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an Anglo-American political theorist and writer born in Norfolk, England. In 1774, Paine emigrated to America, bearing letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. Soon thereafter, he became involved in the clashes between England and the American colonies and published the enormously successful pamphlet Common Sense in 1776, which was widely distributed and contributed to the patriot cause throughout the American Revolution.

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The book was a solid challenge to organized religion with an obvious focus on Christianity. He doesn't introduce the history of Egypt or Greek worship which is heavily tied in to the practice of the religion, instead he stays strictly inside the book and notes the flaws and contradictions he finds. What I found so very interesting about the book is it brings to scrutiny the false notion, that every Settler, Colonist during founding of the United States was a bonified believer in Christianity. Many were in fact deists, agnostic, and atheist, yet this is never thoroughly discussed. People of that time also were public believers and closet skeptics due to social norms and even government laws. Rather than remain as one of them, Paine strikes out and delivers his reasons for being outside the boundaries in a well written book. There are a few flaws in the book, and some statements he makes are not made with perfect logic when you read the bible itself. But on the issues he does get right....there is no way a person can read Paines book and not immediately rush to pick up a Bible to verify or debunk his argument.  

Contents

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Page 22 - Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Page 65 - And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh...
Page 64 - LORD heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth...
Page 104 - At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
Page 80 - Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way. 9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.) 10 Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go.
Page 101 - I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron...
Page 133 - Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Page 91 - Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth ; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

About the author (2005)

Born to parents with Quaker leanings, Thomas Paine grew up amid modest circumstances in the rural environs of Thetford, England. As the recipient of what he termed "a good moral education and a tolerable stock of useful learning," little in Paine's early years seemed to suggest that he would one day rise to a stunning defense of American independence in such passionate and compelling works as Common Sense (1776) and The American Crisis essays (1776-83). Paine's early years were characterized by a constant struggle to remain financially solvent while pursuing a number of nonintellectual activities. Nevertheless, the young Paine read such Enlightenment theorists as Isaac Newton and John Locke and remained dedicated to the idea that education was a lifelong commitment. From 1753 to 1759, Paine worked alternately as a sailor, a staymaker, and a customs officer. Between 1759 and 1772, he married twice. His first wife died within a year of their marriage, and Paine separated amicably from his second wife after a shop they operated together went bankrupt. While these circumstances seemed gloomy, Paine fortuitously made the acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin in London in 1773. Impressed by Paine's self-education, Franklin encouraged the young man to venture to America where he might prosper. Arriving in Philadelphia in 1774, Paine quickly found himself energized by the volatile nature of Revolutionary politics. Working as an editor of Pennsylvania Magazine, Paine found a forum for his passionate radical views. In the years that followed, Paine became increasingly committed to American independence, and to his conviction that the elitist and corrupt government that had ruled over him in England had little business extending its corrosive colonial power to the States. Moved by these beliefs, Paine published Common Sense (1776), a test that proved invaluable in unifying American sentiment against British rule. Later, after joining the fray as a soldier, Paine penned the familiar lines in "The American Crisis": "These are the times that try men's souls." Fifteen years later, Paine wrote his other famous work, Rights of Man (1791). Drawing on his eclectic experiences as a laborer, an international radical politician, and a revolutionary soldier, Paine asserted his Lockeian belief that since God created humans in "one degree only," then rights should be equal for every individual.

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