[Daily article] March 23: The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason is a work by English and American political activist
Thomas Paine (pictured), arguing for the philosophical position of
deism. Following in the tradition of eighteenth-century British deism,
it challenges institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the
Bible. It was published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, and
became a best-seller in the United States, where it caused a short-lived
deistic revival. Fearing its revolutionary ideas, the British government
prosecuted printers and book-sellers who tried to publish and distribute
it. The Age of Reason highlights what Paine saw as corruption among
Christian churches and criticizes their efforts to acquire political
power. Paine advocates reason over revelation, leading him to reject
miracles and to view the Bible as “an ordinary piece of literature
rather than as a divinely inspired text”. He promotes natural religion
and argues for the existence of a creator-God. Most of Paine’s arguments
had long been available to educated people, but his engaging, irreverent
and inexpensive pamphlets made deism appealing and accessible to a mass
audience.

Read more:

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1848:

Scottish settlers on the John Wickliffe, captained by William
Cargill, arrived at what is now Port Chalmers in the Otago Region of New
Zealand.

1888:

Led by William McGregor, ten football clubs met in London for
the purpose of founding the English Football League, the oldest league
competition in world football.

1908:

American diplomat Durham Stevens, an employee of Japan’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was assassinated in San Francisco by two
Korean American immigrants unhappy with his recent support of the
increasing Japanese presence in Korea.

1994:

Aeroflot Flight 593 crashed into a hillside in Kemerovo Oblast,
Russia, after the pilot’s 16-year-old son, while seated at the controls,
had unknowingly disabled the autopilot, killing all 75 people on board.

2001:

The Russian Federal Space Agency deorbited the 15-year-old
space station Mir, causing it to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and
break up over the Pacific Ocean.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

thole:
1. (intransitive, dated) To suffer.
2. (transitive, now Northern England, Northern Ireland, Scotland) To
endure, to put up with, to tolerate.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If
you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently.
 
–Wernher von Braun

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