Paine's Criticism of France's Atheistic Science Curriculum
|In a speech he delivered in Paris
on January 16, 1797, Thomas Paine harshly
criticized what the French were then teaching in their science classes-especially
the philosophy they were using. Interestingly, that same science philosophy of
which Thomas Paine was so critical is identical to that used in our public schools
today. Paine's indictment of that philosophy is particularly significant in light of
the fact that all historians today concede that Thomas Paine was one of the
very least religious of our Founders. Yet, even Paine could not abide teaching
science, which excluded God's work and hand in the creation of the world and of
all scientific phenomena. Below is an excerpt from that speech.
Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists
It has been the error of the schools
to teach astronomy, and all the
When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .
The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.