The Age of Reason
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The Age of Reason

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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  3,965 ratings  ·  258 reviews
Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology, published in three parts from 1794, was a bestseller 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 Frenc...more
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Published July 1st 2010 by Mission Audio (first published 1794)
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Trevor
Dec 08, 2007 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: philosophy, religion
Paine is not an atheist, far from it. He believes in the God who created the universe, not in the men who wrote a book. So, first he shows that the Bible was not written by God - showing the near endless contradictions contained in that book, showing where much of the old testament in particular is a hsndbook of genocide. As he says at one point Moses asks his followers to kill the mothers, fathers and brothers and then to debauch the daughters of those they conquer. For people to say they base...more
Jamie
Thomas Paine plays the ace and brings the house of cards down: the wizard behind the curtain is dead, the emperor has no clothes.

Don’t be mistaken, this would be shocking if it were written today. But no, incredibly, this was the eighteenth century, before modern scholarship, in the depths of scientific anthropocentrism and Biblical literalism. “If only,” 200 years later, with what we now know— but here’s America, trying to write Thomas Paine out of history books and cover up the trace.

Here’s...more
A.J.
Against four thousand years of combined Jewish and Christian tradition, Thomas Paine answers with the eighteenth century equivalent of: "Bitch, please." This isn't your NOMA (Non-overlapping magisterium) kind of argument; this is Total War. With a disciplined rationalism and an acidic wit, Paine produces an assault so complete on organized religion that it makes the so-called new atheist movement a bit of a misnomer. Paine was not an atheist in any sense of the word, but one does wonder if he mi...more
Evan
"It has happened, that all the answers that I have seen to the former part of 'The Age of Reason' have been written by priests: and these
pious men, like their predecessors, contend and wrangle, and
understand the Bible; each understands it differently, but each
understands it best; and they have agreed in nothing but in telling
their readers that Thomas Paine understands it not."

That, an opening salvo in part II of Paine's "The Age of Reason," makes me laugh out loud. Surprisingly and to my delight...more
Skyler Myers
Jan 11, 2014 Skyler Myers rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in all the errors found in the Bible
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."

PROs:

* One of the greatest deconstructions of theistic religion...more
Robert Farwell
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 (esp...more
Russell
This book is a must-read for every American. Thomas Paine was one of the most influential thinkers in the founding of the United States and in the form that it's government took. His thinking had a profound influence on many of the founding fathers, including the author of the constitution - Thomas Jefferson.

This book was Paine's commentary on religion and his defense of deism, as opposed the Christianity. It will help every American who reads it to understand the nature of thinking that motiva...more
Adam
This is a tough book (pamphlet?) to review, for a number of reasons. There is a difference between whether the point Paine is trying to make is well argued and well written (which it is), whether I enjoyed reading it (mostly), and whether I would encourage others to read it (strongly encouraged).

The arguments that Paine mounts against Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are that:
- Revelation can only be experienced individually, and therefor indicating that the Bible is the w...more
Prooost Davis
Thomas Paine, one of our Founding Fathers by virtue of having written "Common Sense," lost many friends and made many enemies with "The Age of Reason."

Paine called himself a Deist, by which he meant that he believed in one God, the Creator of the universe, and in no other, including Son and Holy Ghost.

Paine believed that, in order to know God, a person needed to study creation. Creation was the only true word of God, the Bible and all other sacred texts being the work of men, and not at all the...more
Ryan Jackson
Good anti-religious fun.
Although Mr. Paine would refer to me a fool (as an atheist), I really enjoyed this book. The fact that someone was bold enough to write this book in 1794 says rather a lot about his character, but the fact that some one as well known as Mr. Paine would write it is nothing short of amazing. I can only imagine the recourse that he recieved as a result of pointing out the absurdities of the bible, and of organized religion itself.
This book is certainly not for everyone, es...more
Rosalía
Written at the time of the Enlightenment, Thomas Paine virtually instigated the American Revolution and the break from the shackles of religious slavery. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and many others were Deists who believed the human mind needn't suffer from the dogma of the day nor unscientific, supernatural beliefs. Paine breaks down the Bible bit by bit to allow you to see the absurdity of it all: the archaic violence, sexism, racism, and scientific stupidity. He lets you see...more
Seth Hanson
This is another book that I found so riveting that I simply could not put it down and read the entire Part I in a single sitting. (Part II isn't really necessary in my opinion. Kind of like running up the score after the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt. Sure the fans might love it but sometimes you've got to know when to call off the dogs.) Considering that this book was mostly written in the 1790's, it is mind-boggling how fresh and relevant most of it still is. Maybe it was a classic...more
Jeff
What a forward thinker Thomas Paine was for the late 1700s! HE challenged the U.S. colonies and the state in general with his "Common Sense" tract and followed it up with "The Age of Reason", touting the intellectual standards upon which to base a society and the separation of church and state, a concept integral to the formation of our country. Easy to read and well thought out, I learned to respect Mr. Paine even more after reading about the reaction to these tracts. Ex: effigy burning, formal...more
Steven
Paine's point-by-point refutation of the Christian bible in two parts. Part I debunks the notion of an "inspired" word via miracle, revelation, and prophecy, all of which must be taken on faith, not in God, but in the person to whom the miracle, revelation, or prophecy is revealed. The problem is this: a miracle, more often than not, is simply an act of nature either misunderstood or not understood. Before we knew the properties of hydrogen, for instance, the transportation of people through the...more
Ben
No stranger to controversy, "The Age of Reason" is perhaps Thomas Paine's most controversial work. Though he shared in the Deism of many of the U.S. founding fathers, this work, while popular and helping spread the message of Deism to a wider audience, branded Paine a miscreant and the true nature of intolerance showed its ugly face; Teddy Roosevelt years later referred to Paine (whose work he reportedly -- and it seems obviously -- never read) as "a filthy little atheist." Thomas Paine had earn...more
Pat Zandi
Sad how he could not understand a 5th grade written book that proves itself as completely infallible. I have read the bible 12 times and I still cannot agree with any of his arguments. I suppose prior to God's salvation In my life i might have agreed with him on some of his arguments. However he wanted irrefutable proof in front of his eye's like Thomas but his eyes were dimmed with pride and a self gratifying way to explain away God that he would not become accountable to Hod himself or others....more
Jacks Aradio
Best book for a die hard Christian to start with as Paine gently points out all the various fallacies found with religion and the bible. I had just begun my path toward agnosticism and picked this up which quickly led me to Bertrand Russell and then on to Dawkins The God Delusion. It was amazing to me that since the 1700s people have been picking out the problems with Christianity (and yes I just discovered even earlier writings that dispute the existence of god) and yet the religion remains the...more
Erin
Paine utilizes what he considers pure reason to tear apart the Bible, and therefore Christianity, while arguing for the precepts of Deism. I found it interesting that through the past two hundred years, biblical scholars have similarly struggled with the Bible's inconsistencies and unknown authorship, however, they have not thrown out the baby with the bath-water, as Paine does. His arguments for Deism are strong and appealing, although I'm not convinced that the witnessing of the world/universe...more
W.L.
May 13, 2008 W.L. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every breathing, thinking human being
Recommended to W.L. by: Found while researching
This book reiterated and confirmed for me a lot of what I had wanted to believe, and was thought provoking at a point in my life where the thoughts were just waiting to be told "it's okay, you can come out now."

Paine explains in the simplest manner the ideas of a deist.

There really is no way to describe this book without mixing my own ideas in, because they are so similar, and yet I feel like I want to tell every person worth the brain that they are painted on to read this book.

This book is co...more
Leroy Seat
I was glad to read this book, finally, but I was rather underwhelmed by it. In so many ways it was so out of date as regards contemporary biblical scholarship that especially the second part was of little value.

I was surprised to learn that Paine was not an atheist nor an agnostic but was a deist with a strong belief in God as Creator and the Creation as the "Bible."
Daniel
A wonderful pamphlet written about religious skepticism from an often forgotten and misunderstood American Founding Father.
Chris
Just happened to be reading this over the Easter long weekend. Don't know why I never happened to read it before. It is full of arguments that I recognise - because I have been making them myself all my life - about the insane cruelty and unworthiness of the God described by Western 'revealed religions', and has strenghthened me in my occasionally shaky resolve to remain an unaffiliated theist. Though Paine occasionally goes over the top into snark, he manages to be much more reasonable and read...more
Rev
Thomas Paine was a hilarious man.

He was witty and (for the most part) rational, hence the title of the book. He said things that I've said to myself time and time again, and the latter half of the book is dedicated to going through the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and basically debunking them. I would have liked him to go into a bit more detail or touch base with a few more aspects of the Bible (such as the ten commandments), but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this.

The only thing that anyo...more
Erik Moore
Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, was published in three parts, 1794, 1795, and 1807. It is an amazing tour de force of textual criticism, the first part of which was written in France without access to a Bible and the second parts supported with strong textual reference. Paine portrays the book as an abomination of human activity in the face of what we see of the "cause" of the universe as reflected in nature. Like Benjamin Franklin, he was the conduit of the Enlightenment of Voltaire, Roseau,...more
Jen
This book was recommended to me by a friend after I wrote about my feelings about the Bible.
It's not a huge surprise that I agreed with a lot of what he says. I have felt disgusted at the things that Moses and many others in the Bible did and claimed God told them to do: killing, stealing, raping, slavery, etc. There are so many practices in the Bible that people would not condone now, and this is supposed to be revelation from God?

I decided a long time ago that at best, the Bible was just a his...more
Dr. Tim
Thomas Paine was ostracized for his views on and ridicule of Christianty, something that remained the case until his death in 1809. This superb book is most definitely the cornerstone of those polemics and represents one of the most convincing, penetrating and passionate arguments against religious tyranny that I have ever had the joy of reading.

It is easy to see why he was so revered by the late, great anti-theist Christopher Hitchens and is still admired by authors such as Dawkins and Harris....more
Kyra
The Age of Reason is definitely quite the controversial piece of writing! I certainly think that the fact the pamphlet was written in 1793-94 needs to be considered when reviewing particular aspects of the work, but it still has thoroughly detailed information supporting the stated arguments. In general, my concerns were all logistical versus content-based. I found the first section of the work lacking a fluid progression between ideas, it was rather hectic and all over the place. The beginning...more
Michael Blanco
This is a devastating look at religion, a monster and a slap in the face of most theologians at the time, and even today.

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on m...more
Ian
A wonderful book. Thomas Paine explains religion in a way that makes God sound less man made. I have read many people get angry because Paine is saying that all Christians are bad even though some things he says don't apply to less strict Christians, but you have to keep in mind that he wrote this book a very long time ago. There were no less strict Christians back then. Also I hear people say that he is not hitting one of the main points of the bible; using its stories more as fables with moral...more
Jake
This book includes some of Thomas Paine's best writing. It is also one of his most controversial works, as it pitted him against the prevailing religious sentiments of the day. It is an important axe at the root of the notion that the Founding Fathers sought to make a Christian nation. (Nope, they didn't.) It is also an important work in understanding Deism, a religious belief that enabled many to be highly intellectual and retain a traditional notion of God.

I really enjoyed this book, as it spe...more
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  • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion/The Natural History of Religion (Oxford World's Classics)
  • Some Mistakes of Moses
  • The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State
  • Atheism: The Case Against God
  • Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All
  • The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
  • The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails
  • Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
  • Religion and Science
  • God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
  • Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness
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Thomas Paine (February 9, 1737 – June 8, 1809) was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a c...more
More about Thomas Paine...
Common Sense Common Sense, The Rights of Man and Other Essential Writings of Thomas Paine Common Sense and Other Writings Rights of Man Paine: Collected Writings: Common Sense/The Crisis/Rights of Man/The Age of Reason/Pamphlets/Articles & Letters (Library of America #76)

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“It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.” 171 likes
“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.” 122 likes
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