Paine
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03-06-2015, 05:46 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 03:30 AM)Honorcode1 Wrote:  Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Paine

TO THOMAS PAINE.
[Date uncertain.]

DEAR SIR,

I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtile and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.
But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,

B. Franklin

TL;DR version: Franklin says religion is the opium of the masses.
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03-06-2015, 06:14 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 04:54 AM)natachan Wrote:  Hmm. So Ben Franklin subscribed too to the "it is desirable for people to believe there is a god, regardless of the truth" argument. I find that interesting. But not too surprising.

That's not much of a surprise if you think about it. The founding fathers never intended for this country to have universal suffrage. The bottom line to them was that you played only if you had skin in the game - so to speak.
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03-06-2015, 06:17 AM
RE: Paine
That's why I don't find this surprising. They did have a very patronizing view of people who weren't among the landed gentry (is that the right term in this context?). Remember that the electoral college was put in place to prevent the popular vote of uneducated people from being the final determining factor.
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03-06-2015, 06:20 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 06:17 AM)natachan Wrote:  ...
to prevent the popular vote of uneducated people from being the final determining factor.

Gotta say, that strikes me as a reasonable policy.

Couple that with a national program to de-uneducate these masses and you Murikans might be onto something.

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03-06-2015, 06:26 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 06:17 AM)natachan Wrote:  That's why I don't find this surprising. They did have a very patronizing view of people who weren't among the landed gentry (is that the right term in this context?). Remember that the electoral college was put in place to prevent the popular vote of uneducated people from being the final determining factor.

Sorry, when I first read your comment I thought I saw "surprised" when you actually wrote "not surprised". Regardless, we both agree. Thumbsup
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03-06-2015, 06:54 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 06:20 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(03-06-2015 06:17 AM)natachan Wrote:  ...
to prevent the popular vote of uneducated people from being the final determining factor.

Gotta say, that strikes me as a reasonable policy.

Couple that with a national program to de-uneducate these masses and you Murikans might be onto something.

Thumbsup

Thumbsup Thumbsup

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03-06-2015, 07:09 AM
RE: Paine
ah Benjamin Franklin, even you failed to see the importance of TRUTH. Essentially you are saying what so many since you have, "well yes it is a fabricated lie, but it controls people's evil impulses and gives them comfort"... but it is a lie nevertheless.

One would think intelligent men and women who have the capacity to think for themselves would seldom choose a lie to live by....sadly the statistics show otherwise.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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03-06-2015, 07:30 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 07:09 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  ah Benjamin Franklin, even you failed to see the importance of TRUTH. Essentially you are saying what so many since you have, "well yes it is a fabricated lie, but it controls people's evil impulses and gives them comfort"... but it is a lie nevertheless.

One would think intelligent men and women who have the capacity to think for themselves would seldom choose a lie to live by....sadly the statistics show otherwise.

Oh, he saw the importance of truth. And also the power of it. He said the equivalent of, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Or rather, the ignorant masses can't handle the truth.

Frankly (pun intended), I am afraid I might agree with him. Mostly because I am biased and have an unhealthy man-crush on him. Facts are unlikely to persuade me.

I just wanted to let you know that I love you even though you aren't naked right now. Heart
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03-06-2015, 07:45 AM
RE: Paine
(03-06-2015 07:30 AM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  
(03-06-2015 07:09 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  ah Benjamin Franklin, even you failed to see the importance of TRUTH. Essentially you are saying what so many since you have, "well yes it is a fabricated lie, but it controls people's evil impulses and gives them comfort"... but it is a lie nevertheless.

One would think intelligent men and women who have the capacity to think for themselves would seldom choose a lie to live by....sadly the statistics show otherwise.

Oh, he saw the importance of truth. And also the power of it. He said the equivalent of, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Or rather, the ignorant masses can't handle the truth.

Frankly (pun intended), I am afraid I might agree with him. Mostly because I am biased and have an unhealthy man-crush on him. Facts are unlikely to persuade me.

Funny how those educated and intelligent see the fabrication and fallacy of it, yet continue to perpetrate it under the "it's good for man" philosophy. As he said, majority are ignorant and will not like the truth being exposed to them.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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03-06-2015, 08:45 AM
RE: Paine
I don't know that much about Paine, but it strikes me that he was an iconoclast. When I found the age of reason, I was surprised that we could have gone back toward a more religious society. It is one of the things that is always in the back of my mind, that while the U.S. is clearly becoming more secular, the pendulum could potentially swing back as it did with the great awakening.

Franklin, though being one of the great minds of the 18th century was clearly not a humanist. His world was very stratified and as Natachan has pointed out, he bought into it.
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