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The Thomas Paine Deistic Paradox

RoderickSpode
Posts: 2,371
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7/6/2015 12:10:59 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time."

If Thomas Paine truly believed this, he would really of had to personalize this statement verses universalizing it. He (in the personal), could not know that man (or other men) can only affix first cause to the name of God. If he claimed he could, that would be contradictory to his statement.

He had a problem believing God would give more information to a man beyond first cause, but probably would have had a bigger problem with suggesting God could not convey information beyond first cause.

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

While this statement holds truth, it cannot make any claim that the recipient of the revelation did not receive a valid revelation from God. Just that he (or any second party) did not receive the revelation himself.

"I believe in only one God; and I have hope for happiness in an afterlife."

"I do not worry about an afterlife. I feel content and secure in the knowledge that the Power that gave me life is able to continue it if he decides to. It could be in any form he chooses; either with or without a body. It seems more likely to me that I will continue to exist in an afterlife, than that I existed in a life before this one. "

"The belief in an afterlife is rational. It is based on facts that we see in the creation."


He seems to imply here that God would be just no matter what He (God) decides to do with Paine's departed soul. However, this proclamation itself seems very conditional based on his comments on God as presented in the Bible. Apparently Paine wouldn't have considered God just had God held a view that Paine was accountable for acts he committed while alive on Earth. His view of God.. in the case of the afterlife and God's decision on his fate....was paradoxical.
Geogeer
Posts: 4,227
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7/6/2015 2:09:25 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/6/2015 12:10:59 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time."

If Thomas Paine truly believed this, he would really of had to personalize this statement verses universalizing it. He (in the personal), could not know that man (or other men) can only affix first cause to the name of God. If he claimed he could, that would be contradictory to his statement.

He had a problem believing God would give more information to a man beyond first cause, but probably would have had a bigger problem with suggesting God could not convey information beyond first cause.

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

While this statement holds truth, it cannot make any claim that the recipient of the revelation did not receive a valid revelation from God. Just that he (or any second party) did not receive the revelation himself.

"I believe in only one God; and I have hope for happiness in an afterlife."

"I do not worry about an afterlife. I feel content and secure in the knowledge that the Power that gave me life is able to continue it if he decides to. It could be in any form he chooses; either with or without a body. It seems more likely to me that I will continue to exist in an afterlife, than that I existed in a life before this one. "

"The belief in an afterlife is rational. It is based on facts that we see in the creation."


He seems to imply here that God would be just no matter what He (God) decides to do with Paine's departed soul. However, this proclamation itself seems very conditional based on his comments on God as presented in the Bible. Apparently Paine wouldn't have considered God just had God held a view that Paine was accountable for acts he committed while alive on Earth. His view of God.. in the case of the afterlife and God's decision on his fate....was paradoxical.

Paine was like many of the deists of the day. They liked the idea of an impersonal God that let man set his own truths, but still held onto the personal God of Christianity because of the truths that it necessitated. It made for very confused thought.
RoderickSpode
Posts: 2,371
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7/7/2015 12:16:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/6/2015 2:09:25 PM, Geogeer wrote:
At 7/6/2015 12:10:59 PM, RoderickSpode wrote:
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time."

If Thomas Paine truly believed this, he would really of had to personalize this statement verses universalizing it. He (in the personal), could not know that man (or other men) can only affix first cause to the name of God. If he claimed he could, that would be contradictory to his statement.

He had a problem believing God would give more information to a man beyond first cause, but probably would have had a bigger problem with suggesting God could not convey information beyond first cause.

"It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication; after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him."

While this statement holds truth, it cannot make any claim that the recipient of the revelation did not receive a valid revelation from God. Just that he (or any second party) did not receive the revelation himself.

"I believe in only one God; and I have hope for happiness in an afterlife."

"I do not worry about an afterlife. I feel content and secure in the knowledge that the Power that gave me life is able to continue it if he decides to. It could be in any form he chooses; either with or without a body. It seems more likely to me that I will continue to exist in an afterlife, than that I existed in a life before this one. "

"The belief in an afterlife is rational. It is based on facts that we see in the creation."


He seems to imply here that God would be just no matter what He (God) decides to do with Paine's departed soul. However, this proclamation itself seems very conditional based on his comments on God as presented in the Bible. Apparently Paine wouldn't have considered God just had God held a view that Paine was accountable for acts he committed while alive on Earth. His view of God.. in the case of the afterlife and God's decision on his fate....was paradoxical.

Paine was like many of the deists of the day. They liked the idea of an impersonal God that let man set his own truths, but still held onto the personal God of Christianity because of the truths that it necessitated. It made for very confused thought.
Indeed yes. Great point.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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7/7/2015 4:52:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Not to conflate two different discussions, Roderick, but I also think Deism is confused.

It made sense based on 18th century knowledge, and you could strain to tuck it into early 20th century knowledge, but I think it makes a lot less sense today.
RoderickSpode
Posts: 2,371
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7/8/2015 11:48:34 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/7/2015 4:52:48 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Not to conflate two different discussions, Roderick, but I also think Deism is confused.

It made sense based on 18th century knowledge, and you could strain to tuck it into early 20th century knowledge, but I think it makes a lot less sense today.
I think the reason you feel this way is because you think that deism in the day of the founding fathers was the next progressive step away from Christianity, towards atheism. That they just weren't quite scientific minded enough to embrace atheism, so an impersonal creator was the next logical step. And you feel that the Union of Deists should have graduated out of deism into atheism by now.

Is this correct?

My view however, is that there really is no difference between now and then. It was as confused back then as it is now.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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7/9/2015 6:05:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/8/2015 11:48:34 AM, RoderickSpode wrote:
At 7/7/2015 4:52:48 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
Not to conflate two different discussions, Roderick, but I also think Deism is confused.
It made sense based on 18th century knowledge, and you could strain to tuck it into early 20th century knowledge, but I think it makes a lot less sense today.
I think the reason you feel this way is because you think that deism in the day of the founding fathers was the next progressive step away from Christianity, towards atheism.

It was certainly a step away from theological Christianity, Roderick, but in its 18th century form, I think it was viewed as a step toward a knowable, perfectly orderly world: the Enlightenment's Deist God was a god of Christian moral philosophy, individualism and science, whose creation itself would make a benign pattern of order apparent to anyone who looked.

That's not a world anyone lives in now, Roderick -- neither Christian nor atheist (except maybe some very ignorant New Agers, though I'd rather not count them.) In a modern context, the universe is immense, vastly ancient, amoral, indifferent to humanity, almost entirely hostile to any form of life we can conceive of, and doomed. Creationism gets you nothing in that context, with or without theology.