Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I've been fond of the Deists for quite some time.

Tom Paine's The Age of Reason is probably the most readable text of theirs. I found it most entertaining. As, I'm sure, did Lysander Spooner, who actually goes him one better with The Deist's Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity. Unfortunately the typists who transcribed to the work to the web didn't check their work. I plugged it into Word and fixed up some of it:

Let us then inquire into the causes of the success of the Apostles, and see whether they were not natural ones.

One of the most efficient of these causes was the manner in which they preached. That alone was calculated to make very strong impressions upon the minds of such as were too ignorant or simple, (and such the first converts will hereafter appear generally to have been,) to judge rationally the truth of the statements they heard, and the soundness of the religious doctrines, that were taught. The manner of all the Apostles must have exhibited a great deal of sincerity and zeal, (for they were undoubtedly honest in their faith,) and nothing makes so favorable an impression upon the minds of men in general, in favor of those, who advocate new doctrines; nothing inclines them so much to listen willingly to all they have to say, as an appearance, on their part, of perfect sincerity and simplicity.

Another trait in the manner of some of them, particularly of Paul, who appears to have been by far the most efficient apostle, was boldness. The exhibition of this quality was always powerfully affects the imaginations of the weak and ignorant, of whom the early converts were evidently composed.

The question, is often asked, how is the boldness and zeal of the Apostles to be accounted for, when they knew they had no worldly honors to expect, but, on the contrary, persecution, and the contempt of a large portion of the community, where ever they should go? To answer this question, it is necessary to refer to what was the condition of these men, (with the exception of Paul) when they first became the disciples of Jesus. They were obscure, illiterate, simple and superstitious men- men of no importance as citizens either in their own eyes or the eyes of others. They had never looked to the worldly honors or promotions; but evidently had expected from their youth up, to pass their days in the obscurest paths and humblest walks of life. The contempt of those above them had no terrors for such men as these- the had never aspired to be their equal, and they were willing, because, in whatever situation they might be, they had always expected, to be despised, as a matter of course, on account of their degraded conditions of mind and fortune. Still, at the same time, to be at the head of little sects and bands of those, who had once been their equals, and to be looked up by them as guides, was a distinction adapted to excite most powerfully the ambition of these men, however much they be despised by all but their followers. They, by becoming and being acknowledged as, the teachers of others, acquired an importance, of which a few years before they had never dreamed. They owed whatever of worldly consequence they possessed entirely to the fact of their being esteemed leader by their proselytes. Simple, artless, and sincere as these men were, such circumstances were calculated to attach them strongly to the cause in which they were engaged, although they might not be aware of being so influenced.

So there, says I!


LibertyBob said...

Deism is usually a good intermediate step for those who feel the truth of science but cannot yet let go of their religion.

Al said...

They morphed into the Unitarians, who are kind of a New Age-y bunch these days. Whatever is in, they're into. I know a Unitarian lady who has angel pictures and figurines all over the place. Strikes me as a contradiction.

I don't know, though. Maybe that's better than constantly attacking another religion. They're just images, after all.

She's certainly no scientist, but she seems pretty down to earth.