Ben Franklin and the Importance of Religion

In a previous post titled, China and The Importance of Religion in Society, I stated my belief that a society is strengthened by the presence religion has in setting a uniform code or standard by which morals and behavior are set.

As I’m currently reading H.W. Brands biography of Benjamin Franklin, The First American. I am pleased to see that my idea reflects closely to that of Mr Franklins.

Franklin was not a devoutly religious man and is known for a few criticisms of it, but believed that good works were the best benefit that religion had on a society. That encouragement to do good by your fellow man was the most rewarding thing one could do. Franklin would say that it is not the establishment of a church that is the benefit of religion but the good in which it encourages its members to do.

Following are some quotes from Franklin relating to the matter.

“The faith you mention has doubtless its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I desire to lessen it in any way; but I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it. I mean real good works, works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit, not holy-day keeping, sermon-hearing, and reading, performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments, despised even by wise men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity”

[Benjamin Franklin, 1753, letter to Rev. George Whitefield. Works, Vol. VII, p. 75]

“Think how great a proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc’d Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security.”

[Benjamin Franklin, 1757, in Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 61]

Persistence

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sing under their own weight without the Aid of foreign invaders.

- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775.

Motorcyclist Soul

Have you been on two wheels lately?

Competent to Stand Trial

If you are deemed incompetent to stand trial, shouldn’t you also be deemed incompetent to live in society?

It seems only fair that if a person is not liable enough for their actions to stand trial for it, than they should be kept away from society, for everyone’s sake, to avoid anything happening. If you can’t be measured for your actions, then you should be limited in your ability to do anything of which you would be guilty.

Virtue

I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.

- Benjamin Franklin, The busy-body No. 3, February 18, 1728.

Han Solo

Guess what you’ll be singing for the rest of the day?

If We’re All Equal

If we’re all equal that means you have to accept my point of view. Even if you’re a super dooper liberal communist, my ideas and opinions are equal to yours because you said so.

Not that I expect it to matter since the rules under that system tend to get bent so that some people are exempt. After all saying “we’re all equal” isn’t meant to be taken literally, certainly some are more equal than others.

Friendly

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliance with none.

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801.

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