The world pulls at us unceasingly. So many years ago, it seems now, but I still remember reading The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine in a high school library. It begins with a profession of faith.
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring 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.
Thomas Paine was a good man and wise man. He was also a rarity, one of the few Founding Fathers that we can legitimately call a deist. His own writings prove that. As he intended, The Age of Reason provides an explanation of his own religious philosophy and a “logical” refutation of Christianity.
After reading The Age of Reason I began a long period of religious drift and indifference. What drew me back to Christianity? I read and studied the Bible. Bored, I decided to listen to the Bible when I commuted to work. I then discovered to my shame that I was inexcusably ignorant of God’s word.
There are many like Thomas Paine, good and wise and sometimes sadly wrong. There is only one way parents can protect their children from such. They must see to it their children are properly taught.
My son, keep your father’s commands
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them upon your heart forever;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way to life