On July 4th, America will celebrate its Independence Day. And on Independence Day, it's important to remember the greatest Englishman who ever lived. That man was none other than Thomas Paine. He wrote Common Sense, a strong polemic in favor of American independence which helped inspire the American Revolution. He spoke out against slavery at a time when it was a radical view. And he criticized the English monarchy, which caused him to flee to France where the French revolution was underway. After refusing to support the execution of King Louis XVI, he was imprisoned by the revolution and nearly executed. While imprisoned he began work on perhaps his greatest known book, The Age of Reason, a strong critique of religion, which still today remains one of the best critiques of theism. Paine, however was a deist, which was a popular view among intellectuals in the 17th and 18th century. He was progressive way beyond his time, and arguably wouldn't have much trouble fitting in in the 21st century. So remember him this 4th of July.
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."