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The Age of Reason

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  6,219 Ratings  ·  400 Reviews
Thomas Paine was a brilliant man who played a vital role in the American Revolution of 1776. This was the last book he wrote, which centers almost entirely around Christianity. To Paine, it made sense to question everything in order to make valid answers possible. He puts forth many questions in this book regarding Christianity, confronting many beliefs with pure reason.
paper, 192 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Citadel (first published 1794)
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Trevor
Dec 08, 2007 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 02, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Aug 04, 2009 A.J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Marijan
Apr 20, 2017 Marijan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say, that The Age of Reason is not originalis like saying Hamlet is not original. All the things Paine wrote about were repeated somany times afterwards that the realmeaning of the book is difficult to understand today. But I have no doubt that for it's age it was-well, revolutionary. And I'm sure that Paine would have a lot to add if he lived in our age. For starters today deism seems almost as dated as the dogma he was writing against. And yet,it was an interesting insight in one of the gre ...more
Skyler Myers
Feb 09, 2013 Skyler Myers rated it really liked it  ·  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
Russell
Mar 07, 2010 Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Darwin8u
Oct 04, 2012 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
Adam
Dec 12, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pat Zandi
Dec 16, 2012 Pat Zandi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim
[Note: You can download this for free at Deism.com]

The seminal work on deism - the idea that there is a God, but we come to him through reason, not revelation. That we find God by encountering the world around us, not through a written word.

And Paine has a lot to say about revelation. It's not revelation if it's heard 2nd and 3rd hand. It's not revelation if it's merely a tradition handed down. It's not a revelation if it's a description of events. Revelation has to be directly to a person. If
...more
Prooost Davis
Jun 24, 2010 Prooost Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 17, 2012 Ryan Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2009 Rosalía rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 03, 2012 Seth Hanson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 12, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing
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
Yvonne
Aug 28, 2015 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fearless committent to his beliefs.

"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."
Ben
Sep 22, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven
Jul 01, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-inventory
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
Gary
Jan 17, 2016 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I read this book, I used to think there were just six general arguments that Christians (or other theistic religions) needed to debate: design (teleological), first cause, morality, ontological, purpose of life, and proof of the resurrection. Paine did something else entirely. He argued by showing the absurdity of Christianity as a whole, and the internal contradiction within and between chapters of the bible. Those are the debates apologist never participate in because they are the low h ...more
Kyra
Apr 10, 2008 Kyra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nick
Eh... Its ok, but I'm glad I listened to it on audio rather than actually reading it. Its like an early version of a fedora tipping rant. To be sure, Paine's writing is engaging and entertaining. Its a fun romp through bible contradictions and arguments against Christian theism. It was probably a lot more cutting at the time when it was written, but now it is almost friendly in the jabs it directs towards Christianity. For historical purposes it would be worth skimming it and reading some of the ...more
Neal
Nov 10, 2013 Neal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
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
Mar 03, 2010 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-seminary
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
Wendy
May 13, 2008 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every breathing, thinking human being
Recommended to Wendy 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
Chris Fellows
Apr 19, 2014 Chris Fellows rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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."
Steve Dustcircle
Destroys the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter . . . even whilst a Deist. Stumbled upon this books years ago as an Evangelical Christian, and it rocked my world. Upon investigation into Paine's claims, I gave up Christianity, mostly due to this book.
Bett Correa-Bollhoefer
I would love to have a discussion about this book with anyone where we both have a Bible in hand to read and discuss each point. I spent much time reading the Bible and looking up things he talked about. Its really an excellent lift off point for a deep Bible research project.
Todd
May 22, 2012 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best bible study I've ever had.

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Thomas Paine 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 corset maker by trade, a journalist ...more
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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.” 269 likes
“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.” 205 likes
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