I would like to post a short article about a man who, though not a Freemason, was one of the greatest free-thinkers in American history. Born in England in 1737, Paine emigrated to the American Colonies at the age of 37. Paine's writings greatly influenced the course of the American Revolution, as well as the later revolution in France. His pamphlet, "Common Sense" ran to well over 500,00o copies in it's first year and in it, Paine put forth his arguments against British rule. In addition, he donated his royalties from "Common Sense" to Washington's army. Paine's "The Right's of Man" put forth his views that humanity is born free and and such freedom cannot be "granted" by any government. He greatest work, in my opinion, is his "Age of Reason", in which Paine expresses the ideas of Deism, the belief that God is evident in Nature and that man has been given reason with which to perceive the divine, independent of "miracles". and "revelation". I wish that his writings were more widely know today,especially among the youth of America. Below are a few quotes of his that I find very enlightening and worth meditating upon:
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
But, lest it should be supposed that I believe many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
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.
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.
I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. - The Age of Reason
The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.
That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly
When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.