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Switch to Forum Live View A question about Deism from Paine's "Age of Reason"
5 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2009 - 8:45PM #1
Johnnie5
Posts: 4
"Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases." (Age of Reason, First Part, section 1)

My question is that if Paine recognizes the possibility of revelation from God to man, on what grounds do Deists summarily reject this possibility?

Paul says in Romans 1:20: "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."

Now this seems to be very similar to the Deist position. A great deal can be known about the nature of God through the revelation of nature, through "the things He has made". I have no argument with that.

But it is eminently conceivable that there are things about the nature of God that are NOT knowable by reason applied solely to creation, but that require further revelation.

I take the claims of Deism to be self-evident; but not all truth is that way. It seems to me that faith (in revelation) becomes more reasonable than reason itself when we reach its natural limit.

I guess my question is why can't we have both Reason and Revelation?
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2009 - 9:27PM #2
RevKeithWright
Posts: 137
[QUOTE=Johnnie5;1035150]"Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases." (Age of Reason, First Part, section 1)

My question is that if Paine recognizes the possibility of revelation from God to man, on what grounds do Deists summarily reject this possibility?

Paul says in Romans 1:20: "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."

Now this seems to be very similar to the Deist position. A great deal can be known about the nature of God through the revelation of nature, through "the things He has made". I have no argument with that.

But it is eminently conceivable that there are things about the nature of God that are NOT knowable by reason applied solely to creation, but that require further revelation.

I take the claims of Deism to be self-evident; but not all truth is that way. It seems to me that faith (in revelation) becomes more reasonable than reason itself when we reach its natural limit.

I guess my question is why can't we have both Reason and Revelation?[/QUOTE]
If you read the whole paragraph, and the next,  paragraph, you will find your answer.



     "As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into thesubject, offer some observations on the word ‘revelation.’ Revelation when applied to religion,means something communicated immediately from God to man.
      No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells itto a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and,consequently, they are not obliged to believe it."




    To a Deist, biblical revelation is hearsay.  ESPECIALLY Saul. (Never knew, met, heard, etc,. Christ...and created his own religion (the Pauline Church) which was opposite in idea and purpose to those of Christ elsewhere in the NT.  To me, you are quoting myth as if it were real.  To me, and other Deists, Creation is the ONLY word of God.  It cannot be used to enslave, kill, lie, cheat, steal, commit genocide, endorse mysogany, child rape/abuse/sacrifice...it is merely  a direct revelation of itself, visibile by our own eyes and felt with our own hands.  Today, right now, in any language and any place.  Mathematics and physics are the way Creation talks to us...and we listen in that language...timeless and never needing translation.  e=mc2 is the same here in America as it is in the Ukraine...or on the moon...relatively speaking, that is.

    To us, Creation is our direct and indisputable revelation DIRECTLY FROM GOD TO US without anyone asking us to have faith in anything, in order to believe in the power and majesty of God.

    You rely on the word of God and faith.

    We rely on the physical creation of God to give us all the proof we need.

     We firmly believe in revelation...PERSONAL rather than BIBLICAL revelation...and reason.  Any further revelation comes to us by science (the study of creation) which through physics, helps us to understand Creation.
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 21, 2009 - 11:11PM #3
Johnnie5
Posts: 4
The following is not meant to be glib or adversarial. I truly am in earnest about these things, and am willing to be convinced and/or refuted.

(1) "To me, and other Deists, Creation is the ONLY word of God."

Why must it be the ONLY word of God?

(2) "To a Deist, biblical revelation is hearsay"

"Heresay" is not synonymous with "falsehood".

(3) "Today, right now, in any language and any place. Mathematics and physics are the way Creation talks to us...and we listen in that language...timeless and never needing translation. e=mc2 is the same here in America as it is in the Ukraine...or on the moon...relatively speaking, that is."

Before I ever studied mathematics and physics, or heard of e=mc2, the truth that they reflect was heresay. Then I saw how they were reasonable, and reason verified the truth of them. How is revelation (or mythology) any different? Properly interpreted, reason verifies the truth of it, as with the verse from Romans. Reason may also refute it, this was Paine's intention in "Age of Reason". I found his refutations unconvincing for the most part.

(4) "You rely on the word of God and faith"

I rely on reason, whether it is applied to nature or to revelation. When I apply reason to revelation I find that it bids me to have faith.

(5) "We firmly believe in revelation...PERSONAL rather than BIBLICAL revelation...and reason"

What do you mean by "personal revelation"?

Again, in earnest and with all respect.
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2009 - 12:05AM #4
RevKeithWright
Posts: 137
1) "To me, and other Deists, Creation is the ONLY word of God."

Why must it be the ONLY word of God?

Taking into consideration the insignificance of planet Earth in the universe (equivalent to one single grain of sand in ALL the grains of sand on every beach and desert on the entire planet), the fact that the universe is 13 billion years old and the earth around 5, that the bible is written in human language instead of mathematical symbols, that the Pentateuch was stolen from the Zoroastrians of Persia, that God starts out by burnt offerings in the holy of holies and then changes his mind to sacrifice an immortal being (Jesus), that Jesus built tables and chairs for 25 years or so instead of writing everything down (hell, as a burning bush we got 20 commandments..2 sets of 10...the first set of 10 Moses destroyed, remember)....I can't reason that the God that established the Laws of Thermodynamics, chemistry, gravity, viscosity, motion, acceleration...constants such as those...could totally screw up an "inspired" work such as the bible,

I can test Creation as being constant...even simple experiments on my own.

I can't do that with any written bible nor challenge or test those who claim to "speak" for God.

(2) "To a Deist, biblical revelation is hearsay"

"Heresay" is not synonymous with "falsehood".

We are not discussing heresay, we are discussing hearsay.  They are two different words with two different meanings.  I will continue under the assumption you made a typographical error.

I must accept the bible based upon the words of others (hearsay).
I can physically touch and see Creation (first-hand revelation)
I have a tendencey to trust my own senses over the words of others...especially those of dubious origin by authors who never knew, heard, saw, etc. the person they were writing about...and making claims of direct quotations (ie "red-letter" quotes in the NT) where that woould be physically impossible.



(3) "Today, right now, in any language and any place. Mathematics and physics are the way Creation talks to us...and we listen in that language...timeless and never needing translation. e=mc2 is the same here in America as it is in the Ukraine...or on the moon...relatively speaking, that is."

Before I ever studied mathematics and physics, or heard of e=mc2, the truth that they reflect was heresay. Then I saw how they were reasonable, and reason verified the truth of them. How is revelation (or mythology) any different? Properly interpreted, reason verifies the truth of it, as with the verse from Romans. Reason may also refute it, this was Paine's intention in "Age of Reason". I found his refutations unconvincing for the most part.

The hearsay you speak of here can be verified by experimentation and examination.  The bible cannot be tested or verified by the same examination.  It must be taken on faith.

(4) "You rely on the word of God and faith"

I rely on reason, whether it is applied to nature or to revelation. When I apply reason to revelation I find that it bids me to have faith.

If you've read, "The Age of Reason" then you already know how I feel about the bible as a book of myth...If you find reason in it, and have convinced yourself of it...then fine.  I couldn't lie to myself anymore about it and sought out the truth for myself (as did Paine and other Deists...even here).

(5) "We firmly believe in revelation...PERSONAL rather than BIBLICAL revelation...and reason"

What do you mean by "personal revelation"?

From my first reply.

I will post it again for your convenience.

"To us, Creation is our direct and indisputable revelation DIRECTLY FROM GOD TO US without anyone asking us to have faith in anything, in order to believe in the power and majesty of God."

"We rely on the physical creation of God to give us all the proof we need."

"We firmly believe in revelation...PERSONAL rather than BIBLICAL revelation...and reason. Any further revelation comes to us by science (the study of creation) which through physics, helps us to understand Creation."


I will make it even simpler.

We can see a sunrise, a tree, a rock, the stars, and living creatures and SEE Creation (the work of the Creator...God)
We can feel the warmth of the sunrise, touch a tree, hold a rock, pet a dog and TOUCH Creation (the work of the Creator...God)
These are PERSONAL REVELATIONS.
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2009 - 3:32AM #5
Johnnie5
Posts: 4
(1) "Taking into consideration the insignificance of planet Earth in the universe (equivalent to one single grain of sand in ALL the grains of sand on every beach and desert on the entire planet), the fact that the universe is 13 billion years old and the earth around 5,"

What does relative size or age have to do with something's significance?

(2) "that the bible is written in human language instead of mathematical symbols,

Do you think mathematical symbols came first or human language? Language itself is symbolic, mathematical symbols are, in turn, symbols of symbols, not that that invalidates them. But the assumption that mathematical symbols can express more than language itself can seems backwards to me.

(3) "that the Pentateuch was stolen from the Zoroastrians of Persia,"

I don't know anything about that.

(4) "that God starts out by burnt offerings in the holy of holies and then changes his mind to sacrifice an immortal being (Jesus),"

What you call a change of mind others would call a plan coming to fruition. 

(5) "that Jesus built tables and chairs for 25 years or so instead of writing everything down (hell, as a burning bush we got 20 commandments..2 sets of 10...the first set of 10 Moses destroyed, remember)"

Socrates also neglected to write. But we trust his disciples, Plato and Xenophon, as to his importance. The details of the historical man are not as important as the words and deeds. For Christ also.

(6) ....I can't reason that the God that established the Laws of Thermodynamics, chemistry, gravity, viscosity, motion, acceleration...constants such as those...could totally screw up an "inspired" work such as the bible,"

You would judge the truth based on an aesthetical quality? One kind of truth ought to be as quantifiable as another kind because it is the quantifiablity that makes it truth at all. Is that really what you're saying?

(7) "I must accept the bible based upon the words of others (hearsay)...I have a tendencey to trust my own senses over the words of others...especially those of dubious origin by authors who never knew, heard, saw, etc. the person they were writing about...and making claims of direct quotations (ie "red-letter" quotes in the NT) where that woould be physically impossible."

That all becomes moot if the Bible is actually from God as it claims. This was my trouble with "AOR". Paine's refutations were tediously circular; e.g. assuming the Bible was not revealed by God, then Moses could not have predicted the circumstances of his own death, therefore someone else must have written it after Moses died, but the Bible says Moses wrote it, therefore the Bible is internally inconsistent, therefore God, being perfect, could not have written it. Fallacy! Unworthy of the mind that gave us "Common Sense".

(8) "I can physically touch and see Creation (first-hand revelation)...The hearsay you speak of here can be verified by experimentation and examination. The bible cannot be tested or verified by the same examination. It must be taken on faith."

Certain things do not admit of empiricism, but are true nonetheless. The divine for example.

(9) "If you've read, "The Age of Reason" then you already know how I feel about the bible as a book of myth...If you find reason in it, and have convinced yourself of it...then fine. I couldn't lie to myself anymore about it and sought out the truth for myself (as did Paine and other Deists...even here)."

It is illiberal to dismiss mythology as inherently false simply because it may be fictional or include supernatural accounts. It contains a different kind of truth than the historic kind.

(10) "We can see a sunrise, a tree, a rock, the stars, and living creatures and SEE Creation (the work of the Creator...God)
We can feel the warmth of the sunrise, touch a tree, hold a rock, pet a dog and TOUCH Creation (the work of the Creator...God)
These are PERSONAL REVELATIONS."

Thank you for clarifying that.
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2009 - 7:28AM #6
RevKeithWright
Posts: 137
Bottom line.
Deism is about personal epiphanies...not prostlytizing or conversion.
If you can live with your beliefs, fine.  Your beliefs are your business.
No matter how much we discuss the subject you brought here...nothing will change.
You will continue your belief in Jesus, and I will continue my belief in God and reject Jesus...this is for me..and not for you.
Your reasoning works for you.  My reasoning works for me.
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 22, 2009 - 4:02PM #7
Johnnie5
Posts: 4
Fair enough.

Thank you for talking to me and for sharing your beliefs.
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