Thomas Paine by web
As the world edges ever closer to yet another religious war, this time with Iran (it would be a religious war just as the war with Iraq was a religious war fought for the benefit of the religious/Jewish state of Israel), we need common sense and reason now more than ever. We won't find these qualities in our politicians who, regardless of party affiliation, vote for whatever the Israel lobby puts before them. And we certainly won't get them from religious leaders who believe in such unreasonable things as Jesus walking on water and raising the dead to God wanting Israel to rule the world as is taught in their "holy" Bible at Deuteronomy 28:1 which has God promising Israel that he will set them "on high above all nations of the earth" and that any nation that will not serve Israel, according to Isaiah 60:12, "shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted."
The person who is our greatest example of common sense and reason is the American revolutionary Deist Thomas Paine. He wrote Common Sense which was loaded with such powerful reasons for revolution and a complete break with the government of England that it caused enough people to take the side of revolution to tip the balance and bring about the American Revolution which profoundly changed the world.
Thomas Paine is also the author of The Age of Reason which called for a revolution in religion based on our God-given reason and Deism. This is a fact the religious right tries to bury. However, the truth can be buried but it never goes away and is always there for honest hard working people to find. (The World Union of Deists has a petition to the History Channel asking them to produce and air a one hour documentary about Thomas Paine and Deism. You can sign the petition here.) In The Age of Reason Paine wrote, "Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more."
The ideas and ideals of Thomas Paine would serve the world well if they were embraced today. For example, the misogyny rampant in society today would either not exist or be greatly reduced if not for the Bible and Koran claiming it is part of God's plan. Both of these "holy" books attack women as inferior to men. The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Leviticus 12:2 and 5 shows deep rooted disgust with children in general and girls and women in particular as it teaches a woman who gives birth to a boy is "unclean" for seven days while a woman who gives birth to a girl is "unclean" for two weeks.
This misogyny continues on into the New Testament. For just one example out of too many we find at 1 Timothy 2:11-12, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." And the next two verses give the "reasons" for mistreating women; the myths of the creation story and of the fall of man in the mythical Garden of Eden. They read, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." It's interesting to note that the father of the warmongering neoconservative movement, Leo Strauss, believed in this Biblical myth, too. In his speech and essay Jerusalem and Athens, Strauss writes regarding the fall of man Bible bilge, "Thus the stage was set for the fall of our first parents. The first move came from the serpent, the most cunning of all the beasts of the field. It seduced the woman into disobedience and then the woman seduced the man. The seduction moves from the lowest to the highest."
In the same unreasonable twisted anti-women way the Koran instructs at Surah 4:34, "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them."
Religion has a fundamental grasp on the thinking, and therefore on the actions, of people. Thomas Paine's altruism and courage to openly expose the ungodly teachings of the "revealed" religions and to promote a Deistic revolution in religion gives us the best way forward.