THOMAS PAINE: A VIOLATOR OF COMMUNITY STANDARDS...
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a work by English and American political activist Thomas Paine, arguing for the philosophical position of deism. It follows in the tradition of 18th-century British deism, and challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible.
The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power.
Fearing the spread of what it viewed as potentially-revolutionary ideas, the British government prosecuted printers and booksellers who tried to publish and distribute it.
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.
Conceiving… that I had but a few days of liberty, I sat down and brought the work to a close as speedily as possible; and I had not finished it more than six hours, in the state it has since appeared, before a guard came there, about three in the morning, with an order… for putting me in arrestation as a foreigner, and conveying me to the prison of the Luxembourg. I contrived, in my way there, to call on Joel Barlow, and I put the Manuscript of the work into his hands...
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.
THOMAS PAINE STEPPED ON COMMUNITY STANDARDS...
As writer Mark Twain said, “It took a brave man before the Civil War to confess he had read the Age of Reason…. I read it first when I was a cub pilot, read it with fear and hesitation, but marveling at its fearlessness and wonderful power.”