The Age of Reason
by Thomas Paine
'The Age of Reason' Summary
At the beginning of Part I of the Age of Reason, Paine lays out his personal belief:
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.
Paine's creed encapsulates many of the major themes of the rest of his text: a firm belief in a creator-God; a scepticism regarding most supernatural claims (miracles are specifically mentioned later in the text); a conviction that virtues should be derived from a consideration for others rather than oneself; an animus against corrupt religious institutions; and an emphasis on the individual's right of conscience.[
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