The Age of Reason
  • Publication Date: July 14, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810451 / 1554810450
  • 190 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Age of Reason

  • Publication Date: July 14, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810451 / 1554810450
  • 190 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Age of Reason is one of the most influential defences of Deism (the idea that God can be known without organized religion) ever written. This edition presents Part 1, Paine’s controversial philosophical argument against revealed religion, with representative excerpts of his biblical analysis from Parts 2 and 3.

Appendices include numerous selections from Paine’s other religious writing, his Deist influences, and his contemporary opposition.


“There are many editions of The Age of Reason available for students and modern readers. Kerry Walters’ Broadview Edition is the best. It combines an astute introduction with up-to-the-moment bibliographic material. Walters also illuminates crucial aspects of the book and its arguments with hard-to-find contemporary documents that put Paine’s work in an international context.” — Bruce Kuklick, University of Pennsylvania

“Kerry Walters’ new edition of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason, along with its collection of pre- and post-publication material, is an invaluable addition to the Paine library. Most impressive is Walters’s eloquent and lucid introduction, which concisely places Paine’s Deism in the greater context of the British and French Enlightenment. It is an indispensable edition for undergraduate and graduate students studying history, philosophy, the history of religion, and the psychology of social ideas.” — Jack Fruchtman Jr., Towson University

Thomas Paine: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Age of Reason

  • Part 1
    Selections from Part 2
    Selections from Part 3

Appendix A: Additional Writings on Religion by Thomas Paine

  1. A Letter, Being an Answer to a Friend on the Publication of The Age of Reason (1797)
  2. “The Existence of God.” A Discourse Delivered at the Society of Theophilanthropists (1797)
  3. “An Answer to the Bishop of Llandaff” (1797-1800)
  4. “Worship and Church Bells: A Letter to Camille Jordan” (1797)
  5. Exchange of Letters with Samuel Adams (1802-03)
  6. “Of the Word Religion, and Other Words of Uncertain Signification” (1804)
  7. “My Private Thoughts on a Future State” (1807)

Appendix B: The Religious Context of The Age of Reason

  1. From Anthony Collins, A Discourse of Free-Thinking (1713)
  2. From David Hume, “Of Miracles” (1748)
  3. From Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach, Of the Confused and Contradictory Ideas of Theology (1770)
  4. Thomas Jefferson, An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779) and A Letter to Peter Carr (1787)
  5. From William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)

Appendix C: Responses to The Age of Reason

  1. From “A Layman” [Thomas Williams], The Age of Infidelity: In Answer to Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason (1794)
  2. From Gilbert Wakefield, An Examination of The Age of Reason (1794)
  3. From “Anonymous” [Elihu Palmer], The Examiners Examined: Being a Defense of The Age of Reason
  4. From Joseph Priestley, An Answer to Mr. Paine’s Age of Reason (1794)
  5. From Uzal Ogden, An Antidote to Deism (1795)
  6. From Richard Watson, An Apology for the Bible (1796)

Suggestions for Further Reading

Kerry Walters is Professor of Philosophy at Gettysburg College. He has published numerous books on Christianity, and particularly on religion in early America.