Thomas Paine's 'The Age of Reason.' He wrote the first part while a political prisoner awa

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Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason." He wrote the first part while a political prisoner awaiting execution in France and he wrote the remainder while recuperating at the house of the US ambasador to France, James Monroe. He was convinced that France would not be truly free until the Catholic priesthood was destroyed. He wrote that, "Of all the tyrannies that effect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity." In "The Age of Reason" Paine examines in clear and simple prose the major mistakes in the Bible and the common misconceptions held about it (he called it "marching through the Christian forest with an ax"). Paine was not, however, an atheist (although Teddy Rosevelt once referred to him as "that dirty little atheist"). Like many of the American patriots he was a Deist, which meant that he believed there is a god who created the universe but god does not interfere in its operation. Thus, science is the only way to know god. No miracles, no prophets, no praying, just a benevolent god who created a universe for us to live in and strive to understand. Paine saved this book for the end of his life because he knew he would be vilified for having written it. He didn't realize how right he was. He died in poverty and obscurity. The federalists even managed to prevent him from voting because they claimed that this man who galvanized a nation towards revolution in 1776 with his pamphlet "Common Sense" and who kept the revolution going with his "Crisis" series ("Now are the times that try men's souls...") was NOT a US citizen. Just before he died, two clergymen approached him to try to convince him to recant his heresy to which Paine replied simply, "Let me alone; good morning."


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