Today, January 29, 2013 is the 276th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Paine. Everyone on planet Earth owes Thomas Paine for his altruistic work and the sacrifices he made to make a much better world.
John Adams wrote, “Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have be wielded in vain.” Thomas Paine not only motivated enough people to start the American Revolution with his powerful writing of Common Sense, he also kept them motivated and encouraged them after the rebels suffered one humiliating defeat after another with his writing The Crisis. The American Revolution’s victory over monarchy and “the divine rights of kings” set a pattern for the rest of the world. This would not have happened if not for Thomas Paine.
Personally I owe Thomas Paine a lot for giving me the ability to free myself from the grips of “revealed” religion. If not for Paine’s bold words in The Age of Reason (for Kindle edition click here), I don’t know if I would have been able to evolve past the “revealed”/hearsay religions.
We learn from Thomas Paine the importance of being up-front and direct in our efforts to educate people about Deism. As he wrote to his friend and fellow Deist Elihu Palmer shortly after reading Palmer’s book on God, Deism and religion, Principles of Nature (for Kindle edition click here), “I see you have thought deeply on the subject, and expressed your thoughts in a strong and clear style. The hinting and intimating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind 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.” The World Union of Deists consistently strives to follow this sage advice from Thomas Paine.
Thomas Paine teaches us that death is nothing to be feared. During the American Revolution he risked life and limb by being a grunt in the Continental Army. (Fellow Deist George Washington knew how valuable Paine was due to his writing abilities and talked Thomas Paine into laying down his musket and picking up his pen for the Cause.)
While in the Luxembourg prison in France immediately after finishing Part I of The Age of Reason, Paine was near death due to the horrible conditions in the prison. He writes in the preface to the second part of The Age of Reason regarding his belief that he was about to die either from his fever or from the guillotine. He then shows us just how important it is to have done things in our lives to make our life really count when he wrote, “It was then that I remembered with renewed satisfaction, and congratulated myself most sincerely, on having written the former part of The Age of Reason. I had then but little expectation of surviving, and those about me had less. I know, therefore, by experience, the conscientious trial of my own principles.”
In addition to letting us know that being at peace with death requires us to have DONE things in our life which, especially as we near death, will bring us peace and satisfaction, we also need to stop looking at God through the dark and ancient lens of “revealed”/hearsay religions. Instead of a violent and jealous God who is waiting to throw us into the pits of hell to burn for eternity if we don’t believe things which violate our God-given reason and who we should be afraid of (even Jesus is said to have taught fear of God at Matthew 10:28) Paine teaches us that Nature’s God is not jealous and petty. He writes that Nature’s God is his Creator and Friend and encourages us to look at God in that same Deistic light.
Thank you Thomas Paine – and Happy Birthday!
God gave us reason, not religion; Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You; An Answer to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity; Listen to our Deism Podcasts
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