Thursday, July 14, 2016

Acts, Chapter 13, verse 26
My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.

During this month of July we celebrate two events that are related to the age of enlightenment which resulted in forms of democratic government in the United States and France. America’s revolution although immersed in the ideology of the age of enlightenment retained its fear of God which was indeed been our salvation. Whereas, France lost its fear of God and as a result found no salvation in man; thus began the reign of terror and Napoleonic wars. God is no tyrant; his church although flawed is his Kingdom on earth there is no other way to salvation.

A number of novel ideas about religion developed with the Enlightenment, including Deism and talk of atheism. Deism, according to Thomas Paine, is the simple belief in God the Creator, with no reference to the Bible or any other miraculous source. Instead, the Deist relies solely on personal reason to guide his creed, which was eminently agreeable to many thinkers of the time. Atheism was much discussed, but there were few proponents. Wilson and Reill note that, "In fact, very few enlightened intellectuals, even when they were vocal critics of Christianity, were true atheists. Rather, they were critics of orthodox belief, wedded rather to skepticism, deism, vitalism, or perhaps pantheism." Some followed Pierre Bayle and argued that atheists could indeed be moral men. Many others like Voltaire held that without belief in a God who punishes evil, the moral order of society was undermined. That is, since atheists gave themselves to no Supreme Authority and no law, and had no fear of eternal consequences, they were far more likely to disrupt society. Bayle (1647–1706) observed that in his day, "prudent persons will always maintain an appearance of [religion].". He believed that even atheists could hold concepts of honor and go beyond their own self-interest to create and interact in society. Locke said that if there were no God and no divine law, the result would be moral anarchy: every individual "could have no law but his own will, no end but himself. He would be a god to himself, and the satisfaction of his own will the sole measure and end of all his actions".[1]


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