Today would have been Thomas Paine's 276'th birthday. Paine started off as an obscure tax collector fired for stirring up trouble. Asking why the Jews were taxed without representations and demanding that his fellow excise tax collectors be paid a living wage was too much for the government to maintain his employ.
Through the grapevine, Paine became acquainted with a somewhat well-known American printer and inventor. Plucking him from his stifling obscurity, a certain Mr. Franklin urged Paine that he would receive greater appreciation in the Northwestern Atlantic colonies.
Once across the pond Paine found acclaim from the very act that would eventually ostracize him: Ridiculing tyranny and demanding its expiration.
When Paine penned about temporal tyranny, a popular enterprise; he articulated liberty in a fashion that would spur two revolutions (French and American).
Paine is often celebrated by Atheists, yet he was certainly religious. Paine was devoutly Deist. Paine's God was the God of Providence. whose product of its benignity was a certain beneficence. The worship of said God was to use our faculties of reason to understand it. This God did not lay kings on the throne nor authorize repression. Paine's was the God that created an orderly universe and freedom.
Where Humanism and Atheism align themselves with Paine's God is a revile of revealed religion; a well-forged antipathy to shallow authority grounded therein, and a worship of the greater majestic panoply of existence.
Paine's writings on human industry and liberty against human masters skyrocketed him to fame. Paine's writings against the greater of all tyrants, that of the world and authority defined by revealed religion obscured him from his rightful place in our history books.
Paine co-founded the first anti-slavery society in the Americas. Paine called the "summer soldier and sunshine patriot" to step up during these "times that try men's souls" and gave us the moral charge that we needed to overthrow our British shackles.
Paine the architect was monumental in the implementation of iron bridges.
Paine further spurred revolution in France, though nearly getting beheaded for suggesting that the beheading of the French King may have been a step too far.
Paine's writings against revealed religion led him to be denied by the other nation that he helped found. That was until Jefferson assumed the presidency.
Paine is far too underrated as one of the pivotal thinkers of the founding of the United States, and a person critical to the advancement of human freedom and liberty.
Happy birthday Thomas Paine, and thank you for what you did for all humanity to come.
Humanist Association of San Diego
P.O. Box 3653
San Diego, CA 92163