A Response to Thomas Paine on The Age of Reason Drawn from a free audio book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycgkogD7Jw4
Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” was a powerful critique of religion in general and Christianity in particular. Paine took time in his Age of Reason to point out mankind’s spiritual development has a place in the stars. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, says that God placed the stars in their places. Psalms 147 says that God named the stars - some translations even add that he put each in its place. Isaiah affirms that God named the stars.
Psalm 19, which Paine points out is thought to be the oldest of Psalm verses, says that "the heavens declare the glory of God and night unto night showeth knowledge ... through all the earth to the end of the world. . . ." Paine was not an atheist – he believed in a creator God, but was down on religion as practiced to honor and worship our Creator - and control minds.
Mr. Paine drew his reasoning on religion, faith and the Bible from the more recent – post Reformation ideologies he used as a basis for undermining the ancient. I come from a different direction – from the moment our first parents had to face the world outside the Garden of Eden equipped only with God’s Covenant promise of Redemption at some time in the undefined future. Most biblical study conveniently skips over what may have been up to 60,000 years of covenanted human history. Adam and Eve to Noah to Jonah to the Prophets, all during a worldwide diaspora. Psalm 19 said it all.
Paine did have an appreciation for scientific principles being eternal and immutable – not an invention of man – only his discovery. He claimed man errs by calling discovery of the works of the Creator invention. He fails to note that Scientific Method – an outline for discovering - was developed at the Catholic Cathedral School at Chartres in the 12th century. The work of the Scholastics through the 16th Century reflects in the thinking of Adam Smith in his “Wealth of Nations.”
In my opinion, one of the great philosophical questions of all time, my cousin at 4 years of age asked his Mom, "How high do you have to go to get to the top of up?" He ended up getting a Ph.D. at MIT. As a lifelong Catholic and happy with it even though some of my clergy aren't on the same page with their muddled view of social justice, I've long studied where we came from and wondering where we're going – “Origins and Ultimates.” It is where we came from that I try to answer Thomas Paine in this limited venue.
My magnum opus, "God's Prophetic Zodiac" www.lulu.com – 335 pages - can best be described in learning how God's covenant with our first parents was laid out in the stars and constellations - the only place where all humankind could see it and teach their children - as I fascinated my own kids from the upper deck of a houseboat on Lake McClure. From this position on a mountain lake, the stars were as bright and clear as early man must have observed every night – the place where his wisdom was imparted. "Daddy, can we talk about Jesus and the stars again tonight?" It's a story that starts at Virgo and ends at Leo – a 180 degree switch from pagan Astrology so popular today.
Could it be that God Himself has placed in the stars and their names, a story He wants to tell mankind? In the Bible, there is a story about Three Wise Men who read the stars and knew when the Messiah was born. Could it be that there is a wider story about the Messiah in the stars? And why would God put the story about the Messiah in the stars, instead of merely writing it in a book, or on tablets, where men could easily read the story. But wait, how many people throughout history could actually read the tablets, or books? How many can read today? And how many can actually get the Bible today in lands that ignore or reject the Bible? Has God abandoned them because there was no one to lead them to Christ and see them “born again?” Truly one of the great mysteries of the mercy of God.
God says He placed the stars in the heavens to last until the end of the world. Here would be the logical place for Him to put the most important story of all - the story of a Messiah Who is to be born of a Virgin, who will have conflict with the Evil One, and Who will come again. In my opinion, Christianity that Paine so “reasonably” tries to dismantle is actually the oldest religion on Earth, going back to God’s covenant with Adam and Eve – fulfilled of course, through the Prophets of Israel. A simple understanding of the mythologies of people around the world will expose seeds of that original promise.
In recent years, a number of scholars, historians and scientists have written entire books about this story in the stars. Others have given short explanations or alluded to this story in their books and treatises. The question remains, why has this story not been given widespread publicity? One of the many reasons could be that the writers were too scholarly in their approach, and few people could easily understand what was written. Two books which mention this story of the Messiah are “Witness of the Stars (1892) by E. W. Bullinger, D. D. – Kregel Publications; Bertha Carr-Harris – “The Heiroglyphics of the Heavens” – Toronto, Ontario, Arnac Press, Ltd. 1933 Joseph A. Seiss, “The Gospel in the Stars”, Philadelphia, PA Castle Press, 1884 among others including the Jesuits who used similar understanding to evangelize China in the 16th Century. Anne Field wrote in “Binding of the Strong Man” – 1976 Word of Life – Ann Arbor, MI, why the Church with Pope Leo the Great in 440 AD rejected the Babylonian astrologers but understood the Magi as being “ones who knew the meaning in the stars.”
If we look back in history, we find that Three Wise Men saw the Star of Bethlehem in the constellation Comah, which is in the house of Virgo. This told them that the Messiah had been born. They could read the stars because they knew the names and places and what they meant.
Paine was a contemporary of Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop in the United States. Given the heavily Protestant, even anti-Catholic views of most of our Founders, there were other Carroll’s – John’s older brother Daniel and their cousin Charles Carroll who had more than a significant role in the founding of our nation.
Daniel Carroll (July 22, 1730 – July 5, 1796) was a politician and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a prominent member of one of the United States' great colonial Catholic families, whose members included his younger brother Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States and founder of Georgetown University; and their cousin Charles Carroll of Carrollton, who signed the Declaration of Independence. Daniel Carroll was one of only five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States. (Note: John must be rolling over in his grave given the current apostate condition of Georgetown!) Carroll was a planter. He supported the cause of American independence, risking his social and economic position for the Patriot cause. As a friend and staunch ally of George Washington, he worked for a strong central government that could secure the achievements and fulfill the hopes of the Revolution. Carroll fought in the Convention for a government responsible directly to the people of the country. (Wikipedia)
“Progressives” always like to refer to George Washington as a Deist or at least a Freemason. Perhaps he was. I wonder if the verses from the Gospel of John on the tomb he designed for himself was a statement to the impression on him by Daniel and the other Catholic Carroll’s?
“I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. John 1: 25-26
It might be added that the Italian Catholic Phillipe Mazzei, a friend and financier of Thomas Jefferson also passed on a Polish scholar’s statement that “all men are created equal…” found in the Declaration of Independence. As a Catholic, I’d like to use these as bragging rights regarding the founding of this nation. I wish it were so since much spiritual progress occurs in spite of Church leadership. After the childlike zealots are martyred, they canonize them saints and try to learn from the experience.
The Catholic Church in response to the myriad kingdoms and serfdoms of the post-Roman Empire Era found itself embedded in the Divine Right of Kings. There is much in art, architecture and music that built Western culture that came out of these so-called Dark Ages that accusations of many shortcomings are not totally valid. It was a way to retain a level of spiritual control over warlords and princes who needed to turn to the Church for approval. Even today, a faithful genuflects on his right knee to God in the presence of the Holy Eucharist. When genuflecting before a queen or king, it is always on the left knee.
However, short of bragging rights, the Founders taught Catholicism its greatest secular lesson in the founding of this Constitutional Republic. The Church is still trying to learn the nuances of a Constitutional Republic where individual freedom is key. In the meantime she built in the United States of America the greatest education and health care systems, including care for widows and orphans the world has ever seen – and anywhere in the world as needs arise. The “progressive” disdain for religion, Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular is their envy of what would be the “progressive” power base if they could control the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to create total dependence on government by a beleaguered people. The Declaration of Independence warned of this abuse by then the king, and any despot to follow in years to come.
My engineer’s view of eternity is based on St. Paul proclaiming in 1 Corinthians 2:9; “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things our heavenly Father has prepared for those who love Him.” Paine is wrong on the Christian view of invention. It has always been about discovery and always will be. Invention is the creative aspect of applying that which we have discovered of God’s creation and its properties. It certainly isn’t that Presidential denial of an individual or group’s creative efforts, “You didn’t build that!!”
The nation Paine witnessed in formation and contributed so much to, is also the product of discovering eternal principles designed for those God created in His Image and likeness. I have tried to broaden its definition by showing an ideal setting of causes and effects in several theories regarding, politics, equal justice and science;
This “Fountain of Prosperity” in what I call “The Political Theory of Relativity” demonstrates a series of causes and effects read as a continuum:
1. Beauty and its Author as in the Declaration of Independence > enjoy the -
2. Ethics of the Constitution > which is protected by the -
3. Logic of the Bill of Rights > allowing people to act in enlightened self interest -
4. Subsidiarity of the personally responsible > with all seeking the best for family, community and nation > in the -
5. Solidarity of a free people to build and maintain a nation > opens all to the -
6. Chaos of unexpected discovery, opportune meeting, and crossover ideas leading to Harmony > where a real sense of beauty and esthetics accompanies -
7. High Touch in the natural flow of a creative environment > that entices the development of practical and useful -
8. High Tech to freely explore and apply diverse human talents and natural resources as good stewards > as a wonderful market for -
9. High Finance as servant of discovery, commerce, entereprise, philanthropy, savings and works of mercy.
1-3 gave us the unique and broad freedom to Think; 4-6 how we Act and 7-9 how we Operate.
I don't think Mr. Paine and I would be at odds over this - even though his view of the Bible fails to understand that it deals with reality - just as the Declaration of Independence is well-known for self-evident truths and inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. The Declaration also contains a litany of the wrongs a despot visits on the people. It is something like "sending agents to eat out the people's substance" (DOI), we don't seem to mind a bit today. This doesn't make the Declaration evil, but warns of what is to come if we fail as Benjamin Franklin replied. "What have you done?” they asked him. "Given you a Republic - if you can keep it!”
Jerry is a retired engineer with strong experience in environmental innovation which he still applies today with 2 clean water and energy saving technologies. His life avocation in writing and study of philosophical and biblical themes as they apply to the body politic's spiritual warfare. He survived stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006; now in excellent health. A graduate of the University of Illinois (1958, Industrial Engineering), Jerry had post graduate studies at both the University of San Francisco and the University of Santa Clara in California between 1961 and 1963 (Logic, Marketing). As co Founder and seminar presenter he was awarded a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Valley Christian University operating under California private-post secondary statutes for mid career student, VCU was the pioneer external degree school for mid career students. Its course structures were picked up by several well known Christian colleges. Hosted local broadcast radio and TV shows, "Religion on the Line" and "The News Firm" (jointly with wife, Joanne), respectively. Jerry has published several books that are available at Amazon. Jerry is available to speak as a visiting lecturer at the high school, college or community organization level. Jerry is married 55 years to Joanne Dean Todd – 3 children, 8 grandchildren.