A quote by Benjamin Franklin

Insanitys Crescendo
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A quote by Benjamin Franklin

Before Thomas Paine published Age of Reason, he asked Franklin his opinion of it. This is a question he asked after establishing that he didn't think Paine should publish it:

"Think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue . . . . I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person . . . . If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"

Honestly, I had never considered this question before. What do you guys think?

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That move men's hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main


deludedgod
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Interesting you mention

Interesting you mention that considering that I just posted this:

Quotes from the founding fathers everyone should know


I have reason to believe that regardless of their beliefs on religion and God, the founding fathers (or at least most of them) had a very low opinion of Christianity.

The trouble is, that after posting all those quotes from Madison, Adams, Washington and Jefferson, it would be hypocrisy of the highest degree to single out this one, so I'll pass.

{fixed} 

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It's cute. Ben was a theist

It's cute. Ben was a theist and by most accounts a Christian. Chalk 1 up for the evangelicals.

As for: 

"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"

I'd say the blood stained history of the world's most prolific religions belies the question. Religious zealotry has spurred untold atrocities.

Ben was a brilliant man. I wish I could discuss this with him. 


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Insanitys Crescendo

Insanitys Crescendo wrote:

If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"

How's Scandinavia doing?   


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Edger wrote: It's cute.

Edger wrote:

It's cute. Ben was a theist and by most accounts a Christian. Chalk 1 up for the evangelicals. 

While I do not dispute that Ben Franklin had a great mind, please remember that he (supposedly) died from syphilis after cavorting with the prostitutes in France.  Yup, that's a good xian for you!

 

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Susan wrote: Edger

Susan wrote:
Edger wrote:

It's cute. Ben was a theist and by most accounts a Christian. Chalk 1 up for the evangelicals. 

While I do not dispute that Ben Franklin had a great mind, please remember that he (supposedly) died from syphilis after cavorting with the prostitutes in France.  Yup, that's a good xian for you!

 

I wasn't aware of this. I'm glad to hear Ben got out a little.


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Again, they will twist that

Again, they will twist that to mean the "Christian God having sole domain over human goverment"

Bullshit!

When you take the tottality of their personal beliefs together the picture is simple. They DID want you to be free to practice your religion. BUT, they railled against favoritism and religious hijacking of goverment.

In my estimation Ben is saying that without that structure people would be doing horrible things. But he says that in the sense, not that people need it, but in the sense that they want it so badly it overrides the questioning of weither it really is needed.

It was clear that the founders did not feel bound or obligated to swear an oath to anything but their own reason, whereever it lead them. 

Religion was never intended by them to be license for one label to slap it's name on the Constitution and monopolize use of it by proxy of popular belief.

Religion to them, and they did value the freedom of that, was supposed to be left up to the individual and not messed with or played favorites to by the goverment.

I suspect if he were alive to day, he'd have absoulutly no problem saying, "There are people who dont need a deity to tell them what to do"

Which is not inconsistant with, "Some people do need it" in the sense that they dont realize they dont need it. 

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Insanitys Crescendo

Insanitys Crescendo wrote:

Before Thomas Paine published Age of Reason, he asked Franklin his opinion of it. This is a question he asked after establishing that he didn't think Paine should publish it:

"Think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue . . . . I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person . . . . If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?"

Honestly, I had never considered this question before. What do you guys think?

Seems like a highly elitist and ego-centric thing to say. What was old Ben thinking?

I, for one, do not have any god belief or any need for one to be a good person. That I should think my fellow men incapable of the same would be a ridiculous and egotistical assumption. This is aside from the fact that religion doesn't really seem to accomplish the task of keeping people socially responsible and ethically consistent in the first place. 

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"If belief in the

"If belief in the miraculous revelation of the Old Testament and the New is required to make a man religious, then Franklin had no religion at all. It would be an insult to say that he believed in the popular theology of his time, or of ours, for. I find not a line from his pen indicating any such belief."-[Theodore Parker]
"It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an unbeliever in Christianity, and also have done as much as he did to make others unbelievers"-[Priestley's Autobiography, p. 60, on Benjamin Franklin]
"I am fully of your Opinion respecting religious Tests; but, tho' the People of Massachusetts have not in their new Constitution kept quite clear of them, yet, if we consider what that People were 100 Years ago, we must allow they have gone great Lengths in Liberality of Sentiment on religious Subjects; and we may hope for greater Degrees of Perfection, when their Constitution, some years hence, shall be revised. If Christian Preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his Apostles did, without Salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine Tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure Religion itself, as the Emoluments of it. When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." -(Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, from a letter to Richard Price, Oct. 9, 1780; from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 93.]
"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did."-[Benjamin Franklin, letter to his father, 1738]
"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."-[Benjamin Franklin from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728]
"The faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I desire to lessen it in any way; but I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit, not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing, and reading, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity"-[Benjamin Franklin, 1753, letter to Rev. George Whitefield. Works, Vol. VII, p. 75]
"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."-[Benjamin Franklin, in _Toward The Mystery_]
"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the dissenting [puritan]way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's lectures. [Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was a British physicist who endowed the Boyle Lectures for defense of Christianity.]It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough deist"-[Benjamin Franklin, "Autobiography,"p.66 as published in *The American Tradition in Literature,* seventh edition (short), McGraw-Hill,p.180]
"The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason."-[Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, 1758]
"When knaves fall out, honest men get their goods; when priests dispute, we come at the truth."-[Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, 1758]
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England]and in New England"-[Benjamin Franklin, "Toleration", in _Works, Vol.ii._,p. 112]
"The things of this world take up too much of my time, of which indeed I have too little left, to undertake anything like a reformation in religion"-[Benjamin Franklin, _Works, Vol.x._,, p. 323]
"None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing."-[Benjamin Franklin]
"Revealed religion has no weight with me."-[Benjamin Franklin]