Enlightenment thinkers, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Nicolas de Condorcet were influenced by teachings of the Scientific Revolution. Reason and logic were used to dissect what was good and valuable apart from what was tyrannical and unable to be proven from the old teachings of philosophers and religion. It was this process of reason and logic that gave these thinkers the confidence in man’s intelligence and potential to improve that showed up in their writings.
According to our course textbook, “The new critical spirit (of questioning laws and rules formerly accepted as true without proof) led the thinkers of the Enlightenment to doubt the literal truth of the Bible and to dismiss miracles as incompatible with what science teaches about the regularity of nature” (CP 62). This new way of thinking, reasoning, testing what led the Enlightenment thinkers to question the status quo. Thomas Paine was one whose work and writing was influenced by the new views of science and the universe. Paine questioned old superstition and doctrines that could not be proven with evidence. It was the new discoveries of this time that gave people like Paine the confidence in their own minds and thinking.
While this new way of thinking left Paine questioning the validity of the bible and doctrine, it did not change his belief in God. Paine says, “I believe in one God, and no more” (CP 66). Paine was a deist and did not believe in Gods everyday involvement with man but he believed that it was man would should get involved with the daily lives of fellow mankind and try to make others happy (CP 66). Aside from believing these things Paine chose to explain why he didn’t believe the traditional Christian beliefs. It was why he chose not to believe that was influenced by the need-for-proof and experimentation of the Scientific Revolution. An example of this is when Paine gives the accounts of the doctrine and texts of different religions and why he chooses not to believe them. In response to the story of how the Koran was acquired by man, he says, “I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it” (CP 67). He has no evidence. Therefore he will not believe. There is no scientific method to be had or done.
Influences of the Scientific Revolution can also be found in the writings of Benjamin Franklin. In my opinion, Franklin continued to hold onto Puritan-guilt, but still questioned those teachings. Influences of the Scientific Revolution can be found in his parody, “A Witch Trial at Mount Holly.” In this parody witches are put on trial and are offered to prove their innocence with scientific experimentation. They had to be weighed against the bible and tossed in the river with feet and hands bound. They...