All Academic, Inc. Research Logo

Info/CitationFAQResearchAll Academic Inc.
Document

(Un)Civil Religion? Thomas Paine, John Locke, and the Role of the Churches in Liberal Society
Unformatted Document Text:  24 worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God. 68 Since nature is the word of God, Paine encourages man to study it dutifully: in the Age of Reason, natural science thus emerges as true theology. Paine dreamily remarks that “if such a revolution in the system of religion takes place, every preacher ought to be a philosopher…and every house of devotion a school of science.” 69 Paine’s God does not require sacrifice or worship; neither, according to him, is man naturally inclined towards these activities. Unlike Hobbes, who described “fear of things invisible” as one of the four natural seeds of religion, Paine believes that ignorance of first and second causes leads to rational investigation—and not irrational fear—among men. 70 According to him, the fearful worship practiced by the Israelites and the slavish religion practiced by the Christians were foisted upon them by corrupt political leaders who perpetrated “pious frauds”; it is no wonder, remarks Paine, “that the mind of man is bewildered as in a fog.” 71 Paine thinks that man is too reasonable to succumb to such passions naturally; he must have been corrupted. Thus, Paine’s support of deism is rooted in his belief in what he perceives as one of the central principles of liberalism: man’s rationality. This belief is captured in a 68 Age of Reason 32. Paine repeats these claims throughout the work. 69 Age of Reason 190. 70 Compare with Leviathan 11.26: “And they that make little or no inquiry into the natural causes of things, yet from the fear that proceeds from the ignorance itself of what it is that hath the power to do them much good or harm are inclined to suppose, and feign unto themselves, several kinds of powers invisible, and to stand in awe of their own imaginations, and in time of distress to invoke them; as also in the time of an expected good success, to give them thanks, making the creatures of their own fancy their gods. By which means it hath come to pass that from the innumerable variety of fancy, men have created in the world innumerable sorts of gods. And this fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion; and in them that worship or fear that power otherwise than they do, superstition.” 71 Age of Reason 184. Once again, Paine reveals his agreement with Machiavelli’s account of the origins of religion in The Prince. Yet whereas Machiavelli praises these manipulative and violent founders for having duped the ignorant people, Paine reviles them for having corrupted the reason and goodwill of mankind. They also disagree as to how easily men may be duped. Cf. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Trans. And Ed. Harvey Mansfield, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) 70-71.

Authors: Parsons, William.
first   previous   Page 24 of 29   next   last



background image
24
worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man
to know of God.
68
Since nature is the word of God, Paine encourages man to study it dutifully: in the Age of
Reason, natural science thus emerges as true theology. Paine dreamily remarks that “if
such a revolution in the system of religion takes place, every preacher ought to be a
philosopher…and every house of devotion a school of science.”
69
Paine’s God does not require sacrifice or worship; neither, according to him, is
man naturally inclined towards these activities. Unlike Hobbes, who described “fear of
things invisible” as one of the four natural seeds of religion, Paine believes that ignorance
of first and second causes leads to rational investigation—and not irrational fear—among
men.
70
According to him, the fearful worship practiced by the Israelites and the slavish
religion practiced by the Christians were foisted upon them by corrupt political leaders
who perpetrated “pious frauds”; it is no wonder, remarks Paine, “that the mind of man is
bewildered as in a fog.”
71
Paine thinks that man is too reasonable to succumb to such
passions naturally; he must have been corrupted.
Thus, Paine’s support of deism is rooted in his belief in what he perceives as one
of the central principles of liberalism: man’s rationality. This belief is captured in a
68
Age of Reason 32. Paine repeats these claims throughout the work.
69
Age of Reason 190.
70
Compare with Leviathan 11.26: “And they that make little or no inquiry into the natural causes of things,
yet from the fear that proceeds from the ignorance itself of what it is that hath the power to do them much
good or harm are inclined to suppose, and feign unto themselves, several kinds of powers invisible, and to
stand in awe of their own imaginations, and in time of distress to invoke them; as also in the time of an
expected good success, to give them thanks, making the creatures of their own fancy their gods. By which
means it hath come to pass that from the innumerable variety of fancy, men have created in the world
innumerable sorts of gods. And this fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in
himself calleth religion; and in them that worship or fear that power otherwise than they do, superstition.”
71
Age of Reason 184. Once again, Paine reveals his agreement with Machiavelli’s account of the origins of
religion in The Prince. Yet whereas Machiavelli praises these manipulative and violent founders for
having duped the ignorant people, Paine reviles them for having corrupted the reason and goodwill of
mankind. They also disagree as to how easily men may be duped. Cf. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince,
Trans. And Ed. Harvey Mansfield, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) 70-71.


Convention
All Academic Convention makes running your annual conference simple and cost effective. It is your online solution for abstract management, peer review, and scheduling for your annual meeting or convention.
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.
Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!
Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!
Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

first   previous   Page 24 of 29   next   last

©2012 All Academic, Inc.