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The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine

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Chris OConnor

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The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine

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The Age of ReasonThomas PaineJoin us in the reading and discussion of this classic during the 3rd quarter of 2005. The Age of Reason is an excellent compliment to Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers.Access the entire book online for free at Internet Infidels.Chris Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 7/9/05 1:57 pm
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Quote:I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.Yes...lo and behold...the 'filthy little atheist' was anything but! He just had the audacity to put the organized religions of the time in thier place.Quote: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.This man had a way of thinking on a higher level that I hope to attain. His vision was clear and he had the gift of putting his thoughts down in a concise manner.Quote: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.This is going to be educational as well as fun!Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
marti1900

Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Quote:EVERY national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individualsEven the screwball groups all have a leader who claims direct communication or special revelation from either a diety, (like the Branch Davidians) or, in the case of cults (Heavens Gate comes to mind) from alien beings.Quote:Revelation is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it. Now here's an interesting take on revelation. I never thought of it in quite that way, but it certainly closes the door to a lot of blind belief because somebody said so.After all, even our court system does not admit hearsay as evidence. Why do religious believers when it comes to religions?Marti in Mexico
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Quote:Revelation is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it. Marti:Glad you picked out this line. When I first read it, I was very impressed with how Paine saw things. This line helped me look at things differently, although it is something that was in my thoughts. A person like Paine is wonderful for that, helping you solidify what you are thinking.Quote:but it certainly closes the door to a lot of blind belief because somebody said so.But does it? Only a few are capable of getting this point. The sad fact is that blind belief is still with us today, and may be growing again. I will tie this in to my thoughts on flag waiving...it implies pride yes, but it also implies blind faith. There is nothing wrong with pride, but there is everything wrong with being voluntarily blind. Please do not think I am slighting you, you are a rational person, so I see your waiving as pride, not compliance.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
marti1900

Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Paine is so eminently quotable, isn't he. He is the king of the 18th century sound bite. LOLMarti in Mexico
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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I haven't started reading yet -- I'll be checking this one out at the library on Saturday -- but I thought I'd go ahead and throw back some comments.Paine: Revelation is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.Marti: After all, even our court system does not admit hearsay as evidence. Why do religious believers when it comes to religions?You might look at Rudolf Otto's "The Idea of the Holy" for a discussion of why "hearsay" is admissable in matters of faith. The main problem with Paine's "soundbyte" here is that it deals with revelation as though it were of one kind, the demonstative theophany. Most religions that deal with a concept of revelation also consider internalized changes of heart a form of revelation, and it seems entirely apt to speak of voluntary religious conversion as a matter of intuitive revelation, even if we're hesitant about affirming the truth value of that intuition. For that reason, we can speak of at least two kinds of revelation: demonstrative theophany, which is the sort of thing we point to when we speak of burning bushes and the appearance of the Madonna; and intuitive resonance, which is more a feeling that a given message is true. The metaphor for the latter may be taken from music: when one string is plucked, another string tuned to the same frequency will likewise vibrate. You've no doubt felt much the same thing when you've heard someone say something that seemed to you to express a truth that you've been unable to express on your own. In fact, to gather from your comments, it would seem to me that some of you felt precisely that sort of resonance upon reading Paine's words -- otherwise, we must relegate that also to the realm of hearsay.To dismiss what I'm here calling intuitive resonance as a form of hearsay is to miss the point. Supposed truths (again, we need not affirm them as truths as yet) may be revealed in more ways than one.
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Just got the book from the library...I was surprised, as it was RIGHT next to Jacoby's "Freethinkers"! Must be some sort of demonstrative theophany! Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
marti1900

Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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LOL, Mr. P.And Mad, I guess I am going to go with dismissing intuitive resonance as a valid form of revelation, at least as Paine thinks of revelation. I think Paine is a more straight forward kind of thinker and doesn't get off onto very murky side streets in his philosophy and discussions. When he dismisses revelation as a basis for a religion, it is precisely that preceived revelation of a specific something to one person, who then passes it on to others that he means, not some feeling in the heart idea. Much further on, he comes back to this idea again.Tough talk from a guy sitting in prison writing this stuff!Marti in MexicoI'm into Chapter XII or XIII now, and he keeps pretty much to the straight and narrow.
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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Have not started reading "Age" yet. I agree with you Marti. I am going to reject what Mad presented regarding the subdivision of revelation, at least until he presents the case better regarding what the real difference is in relation to the point Paine is making. My reasoning is that it seems to be pushing an agenda by muddying the waters of what I see, as you have, as a pretty straight forward idea.Quote:You might look at Rudolf Otto's "The Idea of the Holy" for a discussion of why "hearsay" is admissable in matters of faith.Take this with a grain of salt, but I put little emphasis on the idea of faith as it pertains to reality, so why would I care so much about why revelation through heresay is valid in something (faith) I do not really consider as a valid approach to reality? Your argument (quoted) is, to me, really a tautology in this light.Now I do want to discuss matters of faith, but for me, it is really an academic, rather than pragmatic discussion. This is not meant to be hostile, I am just re-affirming my angle of approach here.Quote:To dismiss what I'm here calling intuitive resonance as a form of hearsay is to miss the point. But it is. No, actually it is worse than hearsay, as it opens the door for cognizant manipulation on behalf of the 'intuitor' upon unwitting 'intuitees'. It presents a totally baseless claim to knowledge.I like the music metaphor, but I think that the instance of resonance can be attributed to a common brain function among people, past experience or simply coincidence. Yes, sometimes a line of text or an expressed thought fills me with excitement and wonder, but that does not mean that I have found god or anything spiritual because of those words...it simply means that I agree and appreciate the skill with which someone else was able to express what I have also felt but could not express as well. And that I have learned something.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 6/30/05 9:25 am
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Re: The Age of Reason - by Thomas Paine

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marti1900: And Mad, I guess I am going to go with dismissing intuitive resonance as a valid form of revelation, at least as Paine thinks of revelation.It's perfectly reasonable to put the concept aside in as much as we're dealing with Paine alone, but Paine's point of view becomes extremely problematic when you begin looking at the phenomenon of religion. To say that religions spread only as a form of hearsay is, in effect, to assert that the vast majority of all the people who ever lived were stupidly credulous. If we're not prepared to assume that we're simply more intelligent today than people were a decade, a century, always ago, then we have to look at alternative explanations for the spread of religion and deism.misterpessimistic: My reasoning is that it seems to be pushing an agenda by muddying the waters of what I see, as you have, as a pretty straight forward idea.I haven't started the book yet, so I have only your word for what Paine's point was in the first place. Taken out of context, it looks to me as though he's critiquing the reliability of revelation as a source of religion. But I don't think his explanation is truly credible in the face of the observed facts concerning religion. People don't accept theology the same way they accept the suggestion that "it looks like rain today." And yet, religion is a startlingly widespread phenomenon. The hearsay explanation simply doesn't address the facts.Take this with a grain of salt, but I put little emphasis on the idea of faith as it pertains to reality, so why would I care so much about why revelation through heresay is valid in something (faith) I do not really consider as a valid approach to reality? Your argument (quoted) is, to me, really a tautology in this light.How would it be a tautology? Can you put it in logical expression to demonstrate the tautology?And it seems to me that what you're saying is that you're only interested in arguments that dismiss faith, to the exclusion of arguments that present the other side. Have I misread you?It presents a totally baseless claim to knowledge.Most epistemologists would agree that intuition is a grounds for certain kinds of knowledge. Otto's argument is that religion is a certain kind of knowledge, distinct from the pragmattic forms arrived at by scientific method, one which is only verifiable by recourse to intuition.Yes, sometimes a line of text or an expressed thought fills me with excitement and wonder, but that does not mean that I have found god or anything spiritual because of those words...it simply means that I agree and appreciate the skill with which someone else was able to express what I have also felt but could not express as well.That's more or less all I meant. What that resonance means to the individual is their business.Incidentally, along with "The Age of Reason" I plan to check out Soren Kiekegaard's "Concluding Unscientific Postscript", which is, according to Paul Tillich, the key document in the existentialist movement of the 1840-1850s, a school which in many ways serves as the answer to Paine's brand of enlightenment. I hope some of you will be adventurous enough to read both texts aling with me.
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