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The Age of Reason (segment two and conclusion)

As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species

of Atheism- a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to

believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up

chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism

as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an

opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her

opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this

means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the

whole orbit of reason into shade.

The effect of this obscurity has been that of turning everything

upside down, and representing it in reverse, and among the revolutions

it has thus magically produced, it has made a revolution in theology.

That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole

circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the

study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his

works, and is the true theology.

As to the theology that is now studied in its place, it is the

study of human opinions and of human fancies concerning God. It is

not the study of God himself in the works that he has made, but in the

works or writings that man has made; and it is not among the least

of the mischiefs that the Christian system has done to the world, that

it has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology, like a

beautiful innocent, to distress and reproach, to make room for the hag

of superstition.

The Book of Job and the 19th Psalm, which even the Church admits

to be more ancient than the chronological order in which they stand in

the book called the Bible, are theological orations conformable to the

original system of theology. The internal evidence of those orations

proves to a demonstration that the study and contemplation of the

works of creation, and of the power and wisdom of God, revealed and

manifested in those works, made a great part in the religious devotion

of the times in which they were written; and it was this devotional

study and contemplation that led to the discovery of the principles

upon which what are now called sciences are established; and it is

to the discovery of these principles that almost all the arts that

contribute to the convenience of human life owe their existence. Every

principal art has some science for its parent, though the person who

mechanically performs the work does not always, and but very seldom,

perceive the connection.

It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human

invention; it is only the application of them that is human. Every

science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and

unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and

governed. Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.

For example: Every person who looks at an almanac sees an

account when an eclipse will take place, and he sees also that it

never fails to take place according to the account there given. This

shows that man is acquainted with the laws by which the heavenly

bodies move. But it would be something worse than ignorance, were

any Church on earth to say that those laws are a human invention. It

would also be ignorance, or something worse, to say that the

scientific principles by the aid of which man is enabled to