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  1. #1
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    The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine

    I have just begun to read Thomas Paine's famous book, The Age of Reason and am finding his common sense reasoning to be very refreshing. While he believed in one god that is as far as his adherence to religious doctrines went. As I go through each chapter I'm going to post parts that seem particularly enlightening and relevant to me.

    Quotes from chapter 1:

    I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.


    I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.


    But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.


    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.


    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.


    I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.


    It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and, in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this?
    Full online book found here: The Age of Reason
    Last edited by Rose; 01-27-2013 at 04:56 PM.
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
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  2. #2
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    Chapter 2: of Missions and Revelations

    Quotes from The Age of Reason chapter 2:

    Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all...

    No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it...


    It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing at that time to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds; the story therefore had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews, who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.


    It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian Church, sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand. The statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus. The deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints. The Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian Mythologists had saints for everything. The church became as crowded with the one, as the pantheon had been with the other; and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  3. #3
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    Chapter 3: The Character of Jesus and his History

    The Age of Reason: highlights from chapter 3. Thomas Paine makes an interesting point of saying that the apostle Thomas required evidence for the resurrection in order to believe, so why is everyone else obligated to believe without evidence?

    NOTHING that is here said can apply, even with the most distant disrespect, to the real character of Jesus Christ. He was a virtuous and an amiable man. The morality that he preached and practiced was of the most benevolent kind; and though similar systems of morality had been preached by Confucius, and by some of the Greek philosophers, many years before, by the Quakers since, and by many good men in all ages, it has not been exceeded by any.

    Jesus Christ wrote no account of himself, of his birth, parentage, or anything else. Not a line of what is called the New Testament is of his writing. The history of him is altogether the work of other people; and as to the account given of his resurrection and ascension, it was the necessary counterpart to the story of his birth. His historians, having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the first part of the story must have fallen to the ground.

    But the resurrection of a dead person from the grave, and his ascension through the air, is a thing very different, as to the evidence it admits of, to the invisible conception of a child in the womb. The resurrection and ascension, supposing them to have taken place, admitted of public and ocular demonstration, like that of the ascension of a balloon, or the sun at noon day, to all Jerusalem at least. A thing which everybody is required to believe, requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all, and universal; and as the public visibility of this last related act was the only evidence that could give sanction to the former part, the whole of it falls to the ground, because that evidence never was given. Instead of this, a small number of persons, not more than eight or nine, are introduced as proxies for the whole world, to say they saw it, and all the rest of the world are called upon to believe it. But it appears that Thomas did not believe the resurrection; and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I; and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  4. #4
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    The Old Testament

    Here are some more interesting quotes from part 2 of Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason.

    Besides, the character of Moses, as stated in the Bible, is the most horrid that can be imagined. If those accounts be true, he was the wretch that first began and carried on wars on the score or on the pretence of religion; and under that mask, or that infatuation, committed the most unexampled atrocities that are to be found in the history of any nation. Of which I will state only one instance:


    When the Jewish army returned from one of their plundering and murdering excursions, the account goes on as follows (Numbers xxxi. 13): "And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, 'Have ye saved all the women alive?' behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, 'kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for Yourselves.'"


    Among the detestable villains that in any period of the world have disgraced the name of man, it is impossible to find a greater than Moses, if this account be true. Here is an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and debauch the daughters.


    Let any mother put herself in the situation of those mothers, one child murdered, another destined to violation, and herself in the hands of an executioner: let any daughter put herself in the situation of those daughters, destined as a prey to the murderers of a mother and a brother, and what will be their feelings? It is in vain that we attempt to impose upon nature, for nature will have her course, and the religion that tortures all her social ties is a false religion.


    After this detestable order, follows an account of the plunder taken, and the manner of dividing it; and here it is that the profaneings of priestly hypocrisy increases the catalogue of crimes. Verse 37, "And the Lord's tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen; and the beeves were thirty and six thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was threescore and twelve; and the asses were thirty thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was threescore and one; and the persons were sixteen thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was thirty and two." In short, the matters contained in this chapter, as well as in many other parts of the Bible, are too horrid for humanity to read, or for decency to hear; for it appears, from the 35th verse of this chapter, that the number of women-children consigned to debauchery by the order of Moses was thirty-two thousand.


    People in general know not what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! it is quite another thing, it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy, than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty!
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  5. #5
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    The Mosaic Laws required the sacrifice of pigeons when a woman was deemed unclean during her monthly cycle. Considering that there were over 100,000 women in Israel at the time, this would mean that 100,000 x 12 pigeons had to be killed each year at least.

    It is doubtful that such laws are the product of a supremely intelligent God. Rather they seem the words of primitive iron age man - with limited understanding and a primitive world view.

    However, it is still possible that God had some influence on the Bible, but it is also probable that human understanding, interpretation and even wilful deceit also had an influence.

    When Moses came down from the mountain with those laws, He may have been inspired by God to create a system of justice for his people, but the system Moses created was primitive. In the same way, a father might inspire a child to draw his first picture - but it would be a simple childish picture nonetheless. The people wanted absolute certainty, so Moses and the people attributed the laws to God.

    In all cultures, it is a truism that spiritual insight is always filtered and limited by the culture and by the individual, so we SHOULD not be surprised that the Bible is no exception.

    Problems only arise when we take an extreme position of denying any divine influence on the Bible, or by making the Bible infallible - both of which are probably lies.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig.Paardekooper View Post
    The Mosaic Laws required the sacrifice of pigeons when a woman was deemed unclean during her monthly cycle. Considering that there were over 100,000 women in Israel at the time, this would mean that 100,000 x 12 pigeons had to be killed each year at least.

    It is doubtful that such laws are the product of a supremely intelligent God. Rather they seem the words of primitive iron age man - with limited understanding and a primitive world view.

    However, it is still possible that God had some influence on the Bible, but it is also probable that human understanding, interpretation and even wilful deceit also had an influence.

    When Moses came down from the mountain with those laws, He may have been inspired by God to create a system of justice for his people, but the system Moses created was primitive. In the same way, a father might inspire a child to draw his first picture - but it would be a simple childish picture nonetheless. The people wanted absolute certainty, so Moses and the people attributed the laws to God.

    In all cultures, it is a truism that spiritual insight is always filtered and limited by the culture and by the individual, so we SHOULD not be surprised that the Bible is no exception.

    Problems only arise when we take an extreme position of denying any divine influence on the Bible, or by making the Bible infallible - both of which are probably lies.
    Excellent post Craig. You hit the nail on the head. But I wouldn't say that "denying any divine influence on the Bible" is an "extreme position." On the contrary, it seems that should be the default position that any rational person would take towards any "holy book" such as the Quran, Book of Mormon, Vedas, Catholic Bible, Protestant Bible, Jewish Bible, writings of L. Ron Hubbard, etc.

    As far as I can tell, there are not really very many good reasons to believe that there was any "divine influence" in the Bible. The numerology is highly questionable, since it involves so much fallacious thinking such as cherry picking and confirmation bias. And even if the patterns are sufficient to imply the conclusion that they were designed, they don't tell us anything about the identity of the designer or his/her/its purposes. The patterns could have been "influenced" any any number of factors. We know it can't be the god declared in the Bible itself because the intelligence and morality of that god fails miserably (as your post rightly notes). Of course, it could be by some other style God (Ground of Being, Cosmic Mind, whatever) or by beings that have greater minds and greater longevity than normal humans who designed it for their own unknown purposes which could be nefarious or benign. Or the patterns could simply be the product of human minds that are accurately described as inventors and detectors of patterns.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig.Paardekooper View Post
    The Mosaic Laws required the sacrifice of pigeons when a woman was deemed unclean during her monthly cycle. Considering that there were over 100,000 women in Israel at the time, this would mean that 100,000 x 12 pigeons had to be killed each year at least.

    It is doubtful that such laws are the product of a supremely intelligent God. Rather they seem the words of primitive iron age man - with limited understanding and a primitive world view.

    However, it is still possible that God had some influence on the Bible, but it is also probable that human understanding, interpretation and even wilful deceit also had an influence.

    When Moses came down from the mountain with those laws, He may have been inspired by God to create a system of justice for his people, but the system Moses created was primitive. In the same way, a father might inspire a child to draw his first picture - but it would be a simple childish picture nonetheless. The people wanted absolute certainty, so Moses and the people attributed the laws to God.

    In all cultures, it is a truism that spiritual insight is always filtered and limited by the culture and by the individual, so we SHOULD not be surprised that the Bible is no exception.

    Problems only arise when we take an extreme position of denying any divine influence on the Bible, or by making the Bible infallible - both of which are probably lies.
    Correction Craig,

    The sacrificial animal could be oxen, sheep, goat, pigeons. If they are poor, instead of pigeons, sparrows or even vegetables, oil, grain, wine, salt etc. can also be offered. Funny, every culture and religion even of today offer sacrifices of all sorts to their gods and ancestors for forgiveness, sin offering, blessings, luck, fertllity, good fortunes etc. etc.

    Please do your homework ok?.

    http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics/levitsac.html

    With respect to the materials used in the sacrifices, they were divided into two classes: the blood sacrifices, in which an animal was killed, and the bloodless offerings, the "meal" (vegetable and mineral) and drink offerings.

    Animals offered included oxen, sheep, goats, and turtledoves or young pigeons. The pigeons were used by people who could not afford the more expensive animals (Lev. 5:7; 12:8) and to serve as lesser sin offerings. Both male and female cattle could be offered (Lev. 3:1-6), but among the sheep and goats special prominence was given to the male animal (Num. 15:5 ff; 28:11 ff). The animal had to be at least eight days old (Lev. 22:27; Exo. 22:30), although sheep and goats were usually offered when a year old (Exo. 29:38; Lev. 9:3), and oxen when they were three years old. Any animal offered had to be free from any blemish (Lev. 22:20-24).

    Vegetables offered were grain, olive oil, wine, salt, and incense, which was partly vegetable and partly mineral. The grain was offered roasted in the ear or as fine flour, to both of which incense and oil were added (Lev. 2:1-15), or as unleavened bread or biscuits. The bread was either baked in an oven, baked in a pan, or fried in oil; in each case the flour was mixed with oil.

    All of the animal and vegetable offerings had to be salted (Lev. 2:13; Eze. 43:24; Mark 9:49). Neither leaven nor honey were allowed in any offering made to God by fire (Lev. 2:13).

    The animals and meat offerings selected for sacrifice were from the ordinary food of the Hebrews, in order to express gratitude for blessings bestowed and to pray for continuation of His goodness. As these offerings were the fruit of their life and work, and presenting them showed a consecration to God of their life with all its ability and energy.


    God Bless.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWH View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Craig.Paardekooper View Post
    The Mosaic Laws required the sacrifice of pigeons when a woman was deemed unclean during her monthly cycle. Considering that there were over 100,000 women in Israel at the time, this would mean that 100,000 x 12 pigeons had to be killed each year at least.

    It is doubtful that such laws are the product of a supremely intelligent God. Rather they seem the words of primitive iron age man - with limited understanding and a primitive world view.

    However, it is still possible that God had some influence on the Bible, but it is also probable that human understanding, interpretation and even wilful deceit also had an influence.

    When Moses came down from the mountain with those laws, He may have been inspired by God to create a system of justice for his people, but the system Moses created was primitive. In the same way, a father might inspire a child to draw his first picture - but it would be a simple childish picture nonetheless. The people wanted absolute certainty, so Moses and the people attributed the laws to God.

    In all cultures, it is a truism that spiritual insight is always filtered and limited by the culture and by the individual, so we SHOULD not be surprised that the Bible is no exception.

    Problems only arise when we take an extreme position of denying any divine influence on the Bible, or by making the Bible infallible - both of which are probably lies.
    Correction Craig,

    The sacrificial animal could be oxen, sheep, goat, pigeons. If they are poor, instead of pigeons, sparrows or even vegetables, oil, grain, wine, salt etc. can also be offered. Funny, every culture and religion even of today offer sacrifices of all sorts to their gods and ancestors for forgiveness, sin offering, blessings, luck, fertllity, good fortunes etc. etc.

    Please do your homework ok?.
    Your comments are false and make no sense CWH. Craig was talking specifically about the sacrifice required for women after menstruation. The text specifies "two doves or two young pigeons."

    Leviticus 15:28-30 "'When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

    Please take your own advice, and "do your homework," ok?
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWH View Post
    Funny, every culture and religion even of today offer sacrifices of all sorts to their gods and ancestors for forgiveness, sin offering, blessings, luck, fertllity, good fortunes etc. etc.
    Yes, the world is filled with superstitious people who blindly follow primitive traditions of blood sacrifice, voodoo, and magic. But thankfully, they are a dying breed.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  10. #10
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    Though the Torah may have been inspired by God, it may not be sufficient to represent God, since it's principles of justice fall short of what we would expect from a God. ie killing pigeons because of the menstrual cycle. Monkeys have a menstrual cycle too, so it seems to be a natural process rather than it being unclean. And even if it were unclean in any way, what would the killing of 1 million pigeons each year achieve?

    So it seems that the Torah is not God's exact word. Rather, it is the words of men, perhaps inspired by God.

    God may have encouraged Moses to create a system of justice, but Moses formulated the content based on his primitive culture.

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