Thomas Paine wrote the Age of Reason in order to express his belief in religion. Throughout his writing, Thomas Paine conveys his belief in God, but criticizes organized religion and the writings of the bible. Paine states that his own mind is his church. In the first part of the book Paine discusses the book of Revelations and the word of God. According to Paine, Revelation is something communicated directly from God. He says that a revelation may occur to one individual only, and the word is passed on by hearsay.
Some examples given by Paine of hearsay are Moses’ experiences with God and the Virgin Mary giving birth without cohabitation with a male. The church has established itself by pretending that there was communication from God of special missions only communicated to certain individuals. The Christians believe that Jesus Christ and the apostles were there to convey the messages from God. Paine argues that the Christian theory is much like that of the ancient mythologists. He also states that Jesus Christ wrote nothing of himself.
His history was the writing of other people. These historians have brought him out to be supernatural because of their accounts of his resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, and birth. These testimonies seem to be hearsay, according to Paine. It is difficult to believe that these stories are true without being a witness to the events. Paine discusses the Jews accounts that these testimonies are not true, and he gives the Jews credit on their standpoint about these testimonies.
Paine argues that Jesus Christ may have been executed due to his preaching about corruptions against Jewish priests, and because crucifixion was the mode of execution during that time, it is probable that he was executed upon those words that he expressed. Paine discusses the stories of the devil appearing as a snake to be fables. Many people were taught to believe these strange stories, but Paine argues that they were made up. As discussed in the beginning chapters of Paine’s book, there is no evidence to back up the truth behind many of the stories portrayed throughout the bible.
As examined by Paine on the Old Testament, the writers decided or voted upon which writings on God should appear as the word of God. Paine discusses the word of God written in the Old Testament and questions whether it is true or made up. Paine also writes about the possibility of the Old Testament being wicked due to the torturous stories and cruel executions. Paine states that the prophets, who were given utmost respect for the writing on the word of God, may have just been great writers or poets to say the least.
The New Testament was written after the death of Jesus Christ and is about what Jesus did and said. Paine argues that the church may have fabricated these stories and writings. According to the bible, Christ died on purpose and died for the sins of the world, but Paine argues that if he would have died of some natural cause, not crucifixion, that his death may not have been portrayed as meaningful. Paine discusses the word of God being a revelation. He argues that “the word of God is the creation we behold” (Paine 33).
Paine writes on human language and the universal word of God. It may be impossible to actually translate the word of God. Paine argues that Christ spoke Hebrew and to translate from one language into another would leave out parts of the original because translation is subject to error. According to Paine, God exists to man because of Reason, not just because of the writings of the bible. Paine writes about Theology and the study of human opinion concerning God.
Theology sets out to study God, but actually looks at man’s word or writings that man has made instead of God himself. The Christian system of faith recognizes the belief in man’s word instead of God. According to Paine, this is thought to be atheism. Pain compares other types of writings made by man and discusses analogies to describe how Theology works. In chapter 12 in his book, Pain writes about the definition of learning. He says that what we call learning now is not what it was originally.
The Greeks studied science and philosophy instead of languages, and that is why they were such learned individuals. Now learning consists of learning languages. Pain reasons that the scientific learning that exists now came from the Greeks. Paine wrote about his doubts in the Catholic faith due to his experiences at a young age when he heard a sermon called “Redemption by the death of the Son of God” at a church. Paine reports that after hearing this sermon as a child he wondered why God Almighty would kill his own son.
Paine states if any system of religion has anything in it that would shock the mind of a child, it must not be true. The Christian story of God the father putting his son to death to better all of mankind should not be told by a parent to a child. The Christian system of faith believes that God created only one world. According to this belief I can relate to Paine when he says that his mind is his own church because my belief in God did not originate from the writings of the bible.