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All this is nothing better than the jargon of a conjuror,
who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous
people who come to have their fortune told. Priests and conjurors are of
the same trade.

Sometimes Paul affects to be a naturalist, and to prove his system of
resurrection from the principles of vegetation. "Thou fool" says he,
"that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die." To which one
might reply in his own language, and say, Thou fool, Paul, that which
thou sowest is not quickened except it die not; for the grain that dies
in the ground never does, nor can vegetate. It is only the living grains
that produce the next crop. But the metaphor, in any point of view, is
no simile. It is succession, and [not] resurrection.

The progress of an animal from one state of being to another, as from a
worm to a butterfly, applies to the case; but this of a grain does not,
and shows Paul to have been what he says of others, a fool.

Whether the fourteen epistles ascribed to Paul were written by him
or not, is a matter of indifference; they are either argumentative or
dogmatical; and as the argument is defective, and the dogmatical part is
merely presumptive, it signifies not who wrote them. And the same may
be said for the remaining parts of the Testament. It is not upon the
Epistles, but upon what is called the Gospel, contained in the four
books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and upon the pretended
prophecies, that the theory of the church, calling itself the Christian
Church, is founded. The Epistles are dependant upon those, and must
follow their fate; for if the story of Jesus Christ be fabulous, all
reasoning founded upon it, as a supposed truth, must fall with it.

We know from history, that one of the principal leaders of this church,
Athanasius, lived at the time the New Testament was formed; [Athanasius
died, according to the Church chronology, in the year 371--Author.] and
we know also, from the absurd jargon he has left us under the name of
a creed, the character of the men who formed the New Testament; and we
know also from the same history that the authenticity of the books of
which it is composed was denied at the time. It was upon the vote of
such as Athanasius that the Testament was decreed to be the word of God;
and nothing can present to us a more strange idea than that of decreeing
the word of God by vote. Those who rest their faith upon such authority
put man in the place of God, and have no true foundation for future
happiness. Credulity, however, is not a crime, but it becomes criminal
by resisting conviction. It is strangling in the womb of the conscience
the efforts it makes to ascertain truth. We should never force belief
upon ourselves in any thing.

I here close the subject on the Old Testament and the New. The evidence
I have produced to prove them forgeries, is extracted from the books
themselves, and acts, like a two-edge sword, either way. If the evidence
be denied, the authenticity of the Scriptures is denied with it, for it
is Scripture evidence: and if the evidence be admitted, the authenticity
of the books is disproved. The contradictory impossibilities, contained
in the Old Testament and the New, put them in the case of a man who
swears for and against. Either evidence convicts him of perjury, and
equally destroys reputation.

Should the Bible and the Testament hereafter fall, it is not that I
have done it. I have done no more than extracted the evidence from
the confused mass of matters with which it is mixed, and arranged that
evidence in a point of light to be clearly seen and easily comprehended;
and, having done this, I leave the reader to judge for himself, as I
have judged for myself.



CHAPTER III - CONCLUSION

IN the former part of 'The Age of Reason' I have spoken of the three
frauds, mystery, miracle, and Prophecy; and as I have seen nothing in
any of the answers to that work that in the least affects what I have
there said upon those subjects, I shall not encumber this Second Part
with additions that are not necessary.

I have spoken also in the same work upon what is celled revelation, and
have shown the absurd misapplication of that term to the books of
the Old Testament and the New; for certainly revelation is out of the
question in reciting any thing of which man has been the actor or the
witness. That which man has done or seen, needs no revelation to tell
him he has done it, or seen it--for he knows it already--nor to enable
him to tell it or to write it. It is ignorance, or imposition, to apply
the term revelation in such cases; yet the Bible and Testament are
classed under this fraudulent description of being all revelation.

Revelation then, so far as the term has relation between God and man,
can only be applied to something which God reveals of his will to man;
but though the power of the Almighty to make such a communication is
necessarily admitted, because to that power all things are possible,
yet, the thing so revealed (if any thing ever was revealed, and which,
by the bye, it is impossible to prove) is revelation to the person only
to whom it is made. His account of it to another is not revelation; and
whoever puts faith in that account, puts it in the man from whom the
account comes; and that man may have been deceived, or may have dreamed
it; or he may be an impostor and may lie. There is no possible criterion
whereby to judge of the truth of what he tells; for even the morality of
it would be no proof of revelation. In all such cases, the proper
answer should be, "When it is revealed to me, I will believe it to be
revelation; but it is not and cannot be incumbent upon me to believe
it to be revelation before; neither is it proper that I should take the
word of man as the word of God, and put man in the place of God." This
is the manner in which I have spoken of revelation in the former part of
The Age of Reason; and which, whilst it reverentially admits revelation
as a possible thing, because, as before said, to the Almighty all things
are possible, it prevents the imposition of one man upon another, and
precludes the wicked use of pretended revelation.

But though, speaking for myself, I thus admit the possibility of
revelation, I totally disbelieve that the Almighty ever did communicate
any thing to man, by any mode of speech, in any language, or by any kind
of vision, or appearance, or by any means which our senses are capable
of receiving, otherwise than by the universal display of himself in the
works of the creation, and by that repugnance we feel in ourselves to
bad actions, and disposition to good ones. [A fair parallel of the then
unknown aphorism of Kant: "Two things fill the soul with wonder and
reverence, increasing evermore as I meditate more closely upon them:
the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me." (Kritik
derpraktischen Vernunfe, 1788). Kant's religious utterances at the
beginning of the French Revolution brought on him a royal mandate
of silence, because he had worked out from "the moral law within" a
principle of human equality precisely similar to that which Paine had
derived from his Quaker doctrine of the "inner light" of every man.
About the same time Paine's writings were suppressed in England. Paine
did not understand German, but Kant, though always independent in
the formation of his opinions, was evidently well acquainted with the
literature of the Revolution, in America, England, and France.--Editor.]

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the
greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race have had their
origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It
has been the most dishonourable belief against the character of the
divinity, the most destructive to morality, and the peace and happiness
of man, that ever was propagated since man began to exist. It is better,
far better, that we admitted, if it were possible, a thousand devils to
roam at large, and to preach publicly the doctrine of devils, if there
were any such, than that we permitted one such impostor and monster
as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bible prophets, to come with the
pretended word of God in his mouth, and have credit among us.

Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men,
women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody
persecutions, and tortures unto death and religious wars, that since
that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but
from this impious thing called revealed religion, and this monstrous
belief that God has spoken to man? The lies of the Bible have been the
cause of the one, and the lies of the Testament [of] the other.

Some Christians pretend that Christianity was not established by the
sword; but of what period of time do they speak? It was impossible that
twelve men could begin with the sword: they had not the power; but no
sooner were the professors of Christianity sufficiently powerful to
employ the sword than they did so, and the stake and faggot too; and
Mahomet could not do it sooner. By the same spirit that Peter cut off
the ear of the high priest's servant (if the story be true) he would
cut off his head, and the head of his master, had he been able. Besides
this, Christianity grounds itself originally upon the [Hebrew] Bible,
and the Bible was established altogether by the sword, and that in the
worst use of it--not to terrify, but to extirpate. The Jews made
no converts: they butchered all. The Bible is the sire of the [New]
Testament, and both are called the word of God. The Christians read
both books; the ministers preach from both books; and this thing
called Christianity is made up of both. It is then false to say that
Christianity was not established by the sword.

The only sect that has not persecuted are the Quakers; and the only
reason that can be given for it is, that they are rather Deists than
Christians. They do not believe much about Jesus Christ, and they
call the scriptures a dead letter. [This is an interesting and correct
testimony as to the beliefs of the earlier Quakers, one of whom was
Paine's father.--Editor.] Had they called them by a worse name, they had
been nearer the truth.

It is incumbent on every man who reverences the character of the
Creator, and who wishes to lessen the catalogue of artificial miseries,
and remove the cause that has sown persecutions thick among mankind,
to expel all ideas of a revealed religion as a dangerous heresy, and an
impious fraud.



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