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Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic #2020

Nature s God The Heretical Origins of the American Republic America s founders intended to liberate us not just from one king but from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion Drawing deeply on the study of European philosophy Matthew Stewart brilliantly

  • Title: Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
  • Author: Matthew Stewart
  • ISBN: 9780393351293
  • Page: 402
  • Format: Paperback
  • Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic By Matthew Stewart, America s founders intended to liberate us not just from one king but from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion Drawing deeply on the study of European philosophy, Matthew Stewart brilliantly tracks the ancient, pagan, and continental ideas from which America s revolutionaries drew their inspiration In the writings of Spinoza, Lucretius, and other great philosophAmerica s founders intended to liberate us not just from one king but from the ghostly tyranny of supernatural religion Drawing deeply on the study of European philosophy, Matthew Stewart brilliantly tracks the ancient, pagan, and continental ideas from which America s revolutionaries drew their inspiration In the writings of Spinoza, Lucretius, and other great philosophers, Stewart recovers the true meanings of Nature s God, the pursuit of happiness, and the radical political theory with which the American experiment in self government began.

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      Matthew Stewart

    1 thought on “Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic

    1. Prepare for a challenge when you pick this up, but it s well worth the effort.Matthew Stewart is, like many of us, confounded by the claim that the founding fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation The difference is, he has the tools to mount a meticulous argument to the contrary Stewart starts with two of the extreme agitators Ethan Allen Fort Ticonderoga and Thomas Young Boston tea party instigator and traces the roots of their thinking to radical enlightenment roots That m [...]

    2. The founders have been invoked by the religious right as creators of a Christian republic This book explodes this idea and shows them for the radical secularists that they were The term deism is sometimes thrown about when talking about the founders but before Darwin this was a popular enlightenment opinion God was a god of nature not a divine agent found in holy books The position of a large number of founders was as close as one can come to atheism without completely discarding the idea of god [...]

    3. For those who persist in the delusion that our country was founded as a Christian nation, I recommend an honest reading of this scholarly book Several chapters of the philosophical concepts are heavy going but well worth plowing through From Longlisted for the National Book Award Where did the ideas come from that became the cornerstone of American democracy Not only the erudite Thomas Jefferson, the wily and elusive Ben Franklin, and the underappreciated Thomas Paine, but also Ethan Allen, the [...]

    4. Sometimes this book was a joy Sometimes I felt like a slogged through it When the author, Matthew Stewart, wrote about the founding fathers, especially when he wrote about Ethan Allen, the book was lots of fun When he wrote about philosophers, I felt like it was way over my head I could read several pages about the philosophers and feel like I didn t understand what I just read It could just be me, but I m not a stupid person and I wanted to know about the philosophers it was too much schooling. [...]

    5. Advance Reading Copy review Publication date July 1, 2014While I enjoyed this book than 3 stars may indicate, sections of the book were just too dense and repetitive to really recommend it higher.The premise is basically that America was never a Christian nation as many of the Founding Fathers were deists who believed in private, independent spirituality Thomas Jefferson, for example, would be surprised that we haven t all become Unitarians by now The book centers on Ethan Allen s auto biograph [...]

    6. Matthew Stewart s book is not a comfortable read, but I think he does have some valuable things to say about the philosophical ideas in which several important members of the Founding Fathers were grounded I will note here that Stewart clearly has an agenda, and tends to view Thomas Jefferson, Ethan Allen, et al as closet atheists My opinion is that it s complicated than that, though it s certainly clear that they had an understanding of the problems inherent in all sorts of organized religion [...]

    7. A very interesting book that probably has the right wing, tea party fools frothing at the mouth Mr Stewart presents the truth about the individual philosophies of the Founding Fathers America s revolutionaries were a group consisting of men educated in the Enlightenment and who followed radical ideas, many of which originated in the classical pagan past This is a well researched, well thought out book that is also surprisingly easy to read I highly recommend it.

    8. An astonishingly good summary of the role of religion or lack thereof, to be precise in the creation of the American Republic, with special attention given to the issue of Epicurean philosophy, Deism, and Jefferson s conviction that not a living man existed in America who would not die a Unitarian, so great was his belief in the power of reason and that liberal religion compatible with reason would triumph .

    9. This is a superb account of what was really going down in the eighteenth century and prior with respect to how our founders were motived by some of the great thinkers and philosophers of the ancient and modern ages In essence, the American Revolution is, according to Stewart and I wholeheartedly agree , an ongoing affair As long as all of our freedoms are intact we should be able to keep this ship afloat.

    10. Summary An argument that the key ideas at the foundations of our country were not Christian but rather traceable back to Lucretius and to European thinkers, the foremost of whom was Spinoza, whose ideas were shaped by Enlightenment reason resulting in a materialist atheism or nature pantheism deism.There is an ongoing argument surrounding American beginnings as to whether these were Christian or attributable to a kind of vague deism While I as a Christian would love to believe it was the forme [...]

    11. How The United States Became An Empire Of Reason Matthew Stewart s new book, Nature s God the Heretical Origins of the American Republic 2014 offers a wide ranging history of the importance of philosophical ideas to the American Revolution and to American democracy Stewart has written widely about philosophy, including his book The Courtier and the Heretic Leibniz, Spinoza and the Fate of God in the Modern World It will come as no surprise to readers of that book, that Spinoza emerges as one of [...]

    12. Meticulously annotated, informed by imposing erudition, Matthew Stewart s book is a lively chronicle of the years leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, especially noteworthy for detailing the unsung contributions in word and deed of such revolutionary figures as Ethan Allen and Thomas Young It is also an admirably lucid survey of radical philosophical thought on the nature of man and the cosmos,

    13. I only made it about 250 pages in While it s fascinating stuff, and well written for the most part that is generally accessible to relative novices in American history and philosophy it was a little esoteric and rambling at times I think it s an important book, if not a little speculative.

    14. Some in this country believe the U.S is a Christian nation, having been founded by Christian believers on Christian principles Others believe that the religion of the founders was Deism, a largely rationalist piety that nonetheless focused religiosity on morality Stewart s book falls in neither category, and in fact, it thoroughly refutes both points of view regarding the views that gave birth to the founding of this country.The book is a deep and thick historical treatment of the antecedents of [...]

    15. Stewart s book is a fascinating mix of the history, political theory, religion, and philosophy His main point is that many of the important founders Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Allen, Paine were radical Diest something is much closer to atheism or at a minimum Universalism than traditional christian religions This philosophy deeply influenced the political structure of our early American republic which included the aim to protect the US from the influence of traditional religious beliefs A [...]

    16. This, my friends, is what we call reading Overlooking Stewart s remark in the final chapter, it is absurd to look to philosophers for the explanation of anything other than their own confusions, I not only enjoyed the book, but learned quite a lot.I was confused as well by some chapters, thus the 4 stars, not I never heard of Epicurus, and several others I knew little about Spinoza and Locke But, as far as people go, the best discovery was about Ethan Allen and Thomas Young I look forward to fu [...]

    17. An exceptionally great book about the history of ideas Very scholarly and erudite, so some lay readers may find it dry, but is is written with such passion, eloquence and wit that a lover of truth will feel positively overpowered and in a good way For a philosopher, it melts on the tongue like a delicious frothy mouthful of whipped cream.The Epicurean, Spinozist legacy of modernity deserves to be revived and what better way to do it than by a necromancer of such caliber The author is a wizard.Al [...]

    18. Enjoyable book Too heavy on philosophy for me but the concept of tying philosophy to the various revolutionary figures is very interesting They didn t think this stuff up on their own At its best when he ties the ideas of Ethan Allen, Thomas Young etc to their actions At its worst when it goes down the rabbit hole of competing philosophies of the era.Sent from my iPhone

    19. Review Title In whom do we trust Based on the supposition that conspiracy theories are acceptable depending which conspiracy and whose theory it is, I suspect there is a segment of the political, historiography, and philosophy community that accepts and applauds Matthew Stewart s particular brand of conspiracy theory He is writing directly to address those who he believes mistakenly misinterpret or maliciously misrepresent and leaves no doubt he believes this the motive America as a Christian na [...]

    20. This book reminds me, in so many ways, of a long period comet At many points along the journey the reader can see quite clearly a glowing core of radical Enlightenment thought that exists in the writings of many of America s Founding Fathers and their contemporaries This core burns brightest, in my opinion, as Stewart s account moves within the wider orbits of seventeeth and eighteenth century discussions of freedom and the coequivalency of the terms nature and God discussions which themselves e [...]

    21. I m nearing the end of this book and have strongly mixed feelings.As a summary of philosophy and a history of philosophy re origins of modern democratic thought, it is great 4 or even 5 stars As a history of the irreligious origins of America less so.The problem I keep coming up against is two fold Stewart will go on at great length discussing the details of some philosophical point, who held that point, and then, for the length trace the origins and evolution of that idea from Hobbes, Spinoza, [...]

    22. The United States founding fathers were not, as a group, Christians, as most even dilettante history readers know If we want to paint with a broad brush, they were Deists, but there s really no need to paint with a broad br Oh, what s that There is a need to do that And Deist, if you really know your stuff, actually means atheist, so all the founding fathers were atheists And you have to have someone super smart like Stewart to show you how different quotes actually secretly mean I m an atheist [...]

    23. I enjoyed reading this book, but I do think that its appeal will be limited to certain individuals The book is truly a joining of history and philosophy, as Stewart traces the history of various philosophical schools of thought and how they support his claim that many of the founders of the United States were, let s say, less than Christian In this sense, if someone is willing to slog through the lengthy philosphical histories, which includes discussion and analysis from Epicurus to Hume, will u [...]

    24. In Nature s God, Stewart sets out to reclaim America s founding fathers from religious conservatives who argue the United States was founded as a Christian nation Stewart examines what Jefferson and the others who wrote the Declaration of Independence meant when they used the phrase Laws of Nature and Nature s God Stewart focuses on Ethan Allen and Thomas Young, two lesser known characters involved in the events leading to the American Revolution, along with the better known Jefferson, Paine, Ma [...]

    25. A must read book for anyone looking for an in depth account of Enlightenment origins of the American republican experiment, contra all the conservative Christian nonsense about the nation s founders intention to create a Christian nation Some highlights I find worthy of emphasizing In the eighteenth century the term Nature s God , found in the Declaration, was a Deist notion of theology Note the term God after the possessive form of Nature It s essentially pantheism God Nature What Einstein refe [...]

    26. Matthew Stewart is a full time writer and philosopher He studied political philosophy at Oxford University and Princeton University and holds a Ph.D His book, Nature s God, opens and closes with Ethan Allen s penning of the Oracles of Reason The Oracles often called Ethan Allen s Bible set forth this rough hewn mountain man s individualistic version of frontier deism Deism, an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, discredits all notions of revealed knowledge It doesn t necessarily discredit the existe [...]

    27. I gave this book 5 Stars for a whole range of reasons, not just because it brought back fond memories of Dr Tapke s Philosophy 101 course at Washington College back in 1969 This is a book for the hard core history buffs who really like to delve into a specific topic In Mr Stewart s case, it is the philosophical bent of certain of America s founding fathers.This book examines the driving philosophy behind men such as Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen and Thomas Young the f [...]

    28. 4 3 In depth micro history which focuses on the root tales of the doctrines which lead to the Declaration of Independence and Constitutional anti establishment provision, emphasis on equality and the rule of law in a modern democracy and the bill of rights Stewart explains the set of ideas known as Deism to which almost all the Founding Father s subscribed The book centers around lesser known Founding Fathers, the colorful Ethan Allan and Dr Thomas Young Plenty of detailed research, citations to [...]

    29. Stewart s erudite analysis confidently rebuts the creeping campaign of Christian nationalism to take back the nation and make it what it never in fact was The next time someone like Jerry Falwell asserts that the United States is a Christian nation, he ll have to answer to Nature s God The United States, Stewart writes, was in fact founded by a club of radical philosophers and their fellow travelers who were known as deists in their day and today would be called humanists, atheists, pantheists, [...]

    30. To be honest I couldn t finish this massive tome.The focus on Ethan Allen and Thomas Young, fringe actors on the stage during the Revolutionary War, attempts to show how radical and heretical the theological and philosophical ideas driving independence were.I found the logic confusing, the characters ordinary, and the direction of the analysis unconvincing That said perhaps the author pulled it all off toward the end of the book, but he didn t carry me along far enough for me to get that.I alrea [...]

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