"The Age of Reason" is an influential work by Thomas Paine that follows in the tradition of eighteenth-century British deism, and challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible. It presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as "an ordinary piece of literature rather than as a divinely inspired text". It promotes natural religion and argues for the existence of a creator-God. The Age of Reason is divided into three sections. In Part I, Paine outlines his major arguments and personal creed. In Parts II and III he analyzes specific portions of the Bible in order to demonstrate that it is not the revealed word of God. Most of Paine's arguments had long been available to the educated elite, but by presenting them in an engaging and irreverent style, he made deism appealing and accessible to a mass audience.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, he authored the two most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, and he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. Paine's ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights.
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