Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology, published in three parts from 1794, was a best seller in America, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. Promoting a creator-God while advocating reason in the place of revelation, Paine’s controversial pamphlet caused his native British audience, fearing the results of the French Revolution, to receive it with more hostility than their American counterparts. This passionate and engaging recording of Paine’s classic is as certain to provoke modern listeners to thought as it did his original audience.
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But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Wow. It is amazing to me to think this book was written in 1794/95. One of the most influential thinkers/writers/pamphleteers of the American AND French revolutions. You can't read Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins or Bart D. Ehrman and not feel that these authors ALL owe huge debts of gratitude to Thomas Paine and his last book. 'The Age of Reason', which essentially advocated deism, promoted humanism, reason and freethinking, and violently quarelled with ALL institutionalized religion (especially Christianity, viz the Bible), turned one of the heroes of the American Revolution into a social pariah. Only 6 people showed up for his funeral in 1809 (15 years after 'The Age of Reason' was first published) because many were still horrified by 'The Age of Reason'. Thomas Paine was an amazing thinker and like Hitch, I might not always agree with the end result of his thinking, but I am always amazed at the energy, force, originality and bravery of his thought.
Worth reading for its historical signifigance but must be read in the light of its age. For example, Paine makes an inspired argument for Deism as the only "true" religion. It would be interesting to see how the author's views might change after the revelations of Darwin in another 70 years. One can presume that Paine's belief in a creative god would be reasoned away just as he has done with the the bible, the testiment and all revealed religion.
Of interest are the notes at the end of Part 1 which describe the author's precarious situation. He completed his manuscript just hours before the knock on his door that lead to his arrest and expulsion from the French National Convention. This was a time when ideas had real consequences.
I found the information in this book fascinating and WANTED to read it, but the narrator sounded like an angry man and every time I turned it on I had to prepare myself to be yelled at. It was very distracting, and I wouldn't recommend this edition of the book on that premise.
I'd be curious to see any refutations of this work, serious ones. I recognize the Paine was not likely to be working in the original Greek and Hebrew. I get that the understanding that the Gospels were not the work of the named Apostle was not common understanding, nor, perhaps, was it commonly understood the Moses didn't right the first few chapters of the old testament either. I'm not sure that a common fallacy isn't necessarily a refutation of the Bible. I do think he raises many good points, although I didn't find his descriptions of Deism to be all that complete. What I found most interesting was to wonder if many that have seemingly misunderstood the Church/State separation, could even begin to comprehend this work, and the implications it has for their view of the "Founding Fathers."
I was very disappointed. I expected more from the man who wrote: "These are the times that try men's souls." For the second time in 200+ titles, I couldn't finish a book. In part 2, Paine got bogged down with his premise that if Moses didn't write the first 5 books of the Bible, they have no credibility. That's where I gave up. Part 1 had some valid criticisms of Christianity. Paine didn't mention that Martin Luther had identified these and other criticism a couple centuries earlier. I found it amusing that Paine criticized the study of foreign languages and then had problems in France because, in part, he couldn't speak the language. I wish "The Age of Reason" had more "Common Sense".
This book is a quick listen. Packed with great info and is masterfully read.
Try all of Paine's books. Common Sense especially.
The author comes to life with the reading of Robin Field
I listened to the whole book in one work day
I thought the book was well written and well presented by the reader. A great perspective of the Bible.
"A must for seekers of truth!"
A clear forensic demolition using nothing but the accused's own writings backed up by a superb narration. The ripple effects will have catastrophic consequences to all faiths.
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