Thursday, January 3, 2008

Benjamin Franklin

It seems that Benjamin Franklin, one of the lauded fathers of our country, found early America a place where men who thought critically about religion, instead of accepting unquestioningly the kind of education a person gets at a madrassa, roamed freely.

In his autobiography, published in 1789, Franklin writes of himself and his day of setting out on his own as a young man: ". . . I was rather inclin[e]d to leave Boston when I reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing part . . . and farther, that my indiscreet [sic] disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horrir by good people as an infidel or atheist."

In the same book, Franklin describes a good friend who was also a doctor: "He . . . was ingenious, but much of an unbeliever, and wickedly undertook, some years after, to travest[y] the Bible in doggerel verse, as Cotton had done Virgil. By this means he set many of the facts in a very ridiculous light, and might have hurt weak minds if his work had been published; but it never was." It's unclear from the context whether Franklin means the word "wicked" as a serious moral condemnation, or as a mere ironic or gently teasing acknowledgement that the book the doctor wrote would be considered naughty by some people.

He also describes a fellow printer: "At this time he did not profess any particular religion, but something of all on occasion."

That's three people during the founding of our country who think critically about religion, within a few pages of Ben Franklin's autobiography.

In light of this, it's simple to conclude that if Mike Huckabee doesn't become President, it's because Americans like freedom too much, and are too hesitant to take that kind of step towards being a Sharia-law-like autocracy.