The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology


Category: Philosophy/Religion

By Thomas Paine

Published in 1794

Reference #0268

Early English Edition. “The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology” was written by political philosopher Thomas Paine in Paris in 1793.

“The Age of Reason” was a critique of the Biblical text and sometimes referred to as “Devil’s Prayer-Book” or “Bible of Atheism.” It argued for the philosophical position of Deism and challenged the legitimacy of the Bible. It was written in simple, direct language with humor and wit; a mixture of “Common Sense” and scientific analysis that made deism appealing and available to the masses. It was published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807.

The work was ignored by the French but was extremely successful in America and Britain. The publication history of the first part is very complicated and a definitive of the early editions cannot be determined. There are at least three editions in English printed by Barrois in Paris in 1794 with each having a different pagination: 77 pages, 44 pages, and 117 pages; the present works is a 55-page edition sold in London by D. I. Eaton and printed by Barrois.

The British government prosecuted the printers and booksellers who published or distributed it. Despite this, “The Age of Reason” was a bestseller and inspired many free thinkers. / First edition of Paine’s final work and an important reflection on the role of religion in society, a pamphlet printed in Paris for American use.

The Age of Reason is divided into three arguments challenging Christian doctrines. “The hinting and intimidating manner of writing that was formerly used on subjects of this kind (religion), produced skepticism, but not conviction. It is necessary to be bold. Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it. Say a bold thing that will staffer them, and they will begin to think.”