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Religion of Nature, by Matthew Tindal Most English deists downplayed the tensions between their rational theology and that of traditional Christianity. Tindal insisted that he was a Christian deist, as did Thomas Chubb who revered Christ as a divine moral teacher but held that reason, not faith, was the final arbiter of religious belief.
How seriously to take these claims has been a matter of intense and prolonged debate. Deism was proscribed by law after all; the Toleration Act of had specifically excluded all forms of anti-trinitarianism as well as Catholicism.
When Thomas Woolston attacked the scriptural accounts of miracles and the doctrine of the resurrection, he was fined one hundred pounds sterling and sentenced to one year in prison. Certainly, some deists adopted a materialistic determinism that smacked of atheism.
Others, like Collins, Bolingbroke, and Chubb, questioned the immortality of the soul. The Dudleian lectureendowed by Paul Dudley inis the oldest endowed lecture at Harvard University. Dudley specified that the lecture should be given once a year, and that the topics of the lectures should rotate among four themes: The first lecture was given inand it continues to the present day.
On the other hand, the rational theology of the deists had been an intrinsic part of Christian thought since Thomas Aquinasand the argument from design was trumpeted from Anglophone Protestant pulpits of most denominations on both sides of the Atlantic.
In fact, Harvard instituted a regular series of lectures on natural religion in Even anti-clericalism had a fine pedigree among dissenting English Protestants since the Reformation. And it is not inconceivable that many deists might have seen themselves as the culmination of the Reformation process, practicing the priesthood of all believers by subjecting all authority, even that of scripture, to the faculty of reason that God had given humanity.
Like their English counterparts, most colonial deists downplayed their distance from their orthodox neighbors. Confined to a small number of educated and generally wealthy elites, colonial deism was a largely private affair that sought to fly below the radar.
Benjamin Franklin had been much taken with deist doctrines in his youth and had even published a treatise [ A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain ] in England on determinism with strong atheistic overtones.
But Franklin quickly repented of his action and tried to suppress the distribution of his publication, considering it one of the greatest errors of his youth. Like his handful of fellow colonial deists, Franklin kept a low theological profile.
As a result, deism had very little impact in early America up through the American Revolution. In the years after independence, however, that began to change.
The Only Oracle of Man. Allen had drafted much of the work some twenty years earlier with Thomas Young, a fellow New England patriot and freethinker. Allen rejected revelation scriptural or otherwiseprophecies, miracles, and divine providence as well as such specifically Christian doctrines as the trinity, original sin, and the need for atonement.
The legendary author of Common Sense brought the same militancy and rhetorical flair to the struggle for deism that he had for independence. Paine lambasted the superstitions of Christianity and vilified the priestcraft that supported it.
More than simply irrational, Christianity was the last great obstacle to the coming secular chiliad, the Age of Reason.The more consistently one attempts to adhere to an ideology, the more one's sanity becomes a series of unprincipled exceptions.
— graaaaaagh (@graaaaaagh) February 5, Meeting with a large group of effective altruists can be a philosophically disconcerting experience, and my recent meetup with Stanford Effective Altruist Club was no exception.
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Note: Discussion this past fall of my book THE DECISION TO USE THE ATOMIC BOMB, and of a review by John Bonnett, generated extended and often emotional comment. The problem to investigate in this ethical leadership essay is whether earning trust and commitment of organizational members through ethical stewardship and trustworthiness helps leaders, to channel their organizations to success in a highly competitive world context.