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Revolutionary Deists: Early America's Rational Infidels Paperback – August 24, 2010
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Revolutionary Deists begins with an introduction to deism in 18th century America. Walters deftly explains the foundations of deism laid by Bacon, Newton, and Locke, and dissects the factors for deism's apparent sudden popularity at the time. Culling from a wealth of first-hand and scholarly sources, Walters argues that the American flavor of deism was a reaction against the Calvinist tradition, combined with "the steady infiltration of French Enlightenment ideals" and the new-found national independence (page 35). What's more, Walters argues that the Great Awakening itself may have nurtured the growth of American deism. Walters also looks into possible reasons why the deists did not always trumpet their views, and argues that American deism occupied a precarious middle ground between the more radical French atheism and the staid British sensibilities of the time.
Walters claims that the deists of colonial America essentially agreed that "reality is rational, defined by immutable and absolute natural laws, that these laws were set in motion by a supreme architect whose nature is essentially reflected in creation; that humans are likewise imbued with a spark of divine reason that permeates reality, and hence are capable of understanding that reality" (page 46).Read more ›
Revolutionary Deists performs a just job of outlining the vast extremism present in American Christianity during this time, or to be more precise “Calvinism”; within its first chapter.
There is an even balance in this book in reference to the deists of choice outlined in Revolutionary Deists. From Benjamin Franklin (The ambivalent deist), Ethan Allen (the frontier deist), Thomas Paine (the iconoclastic deist), Thomas Jefferson (the deistic christian), Elihu Palmer (the crusader for deism) and Philip Freneau (deism’s poet).
As I say Walters portrays the deistic thinkers very truthfully within the dedicated chapters for each deist. I’m a little confused about his overly familiar tone in reference to Thomas Pain, as for some reason Walters seem to like to refer to him as Tom Pain throughout his book.
Learning about the history of deism from this book is most intriguing to say the least. And begin educated on the views of these men, is most thought provoking. If anything this book really captures the diversity of deism in a very true light.
However this book was far from without faults. There are many issues with its closing chapter entitled “Zion Restored: The Decline and Fall of American Deism”. In this final chapter Walters attempts to critique deism on quite a few accounts.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent book. When politicians today talk about how our "Founding Fathers" were protectors of the Bible, they are not as smart they think they are. Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Chandler
"Revolutionary Deists: Early America's Rational Infidels" by Kerry Walters examines the Deist movement from 1725-1810. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J.A.B.
It's a great book. The author has a talent for presenting facts and opinion without tainting either. Read morePublished on February 4, 2014 by Derek T. Malae
Deism played a major role in 18th century America, influencing the thinking of many of the founders as well as its influence on orthodox religion. Read morePublished on January 5, 2012 by P. R. Smith
I consider myself a Deist, after reading Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason". "Revolutionary Deists" is a very satisfying read. Read morePublished on September 7, 2011 by Rockets Red Glare