Nature's God

Nature's God

The Heretical Origins of the American Republic

Book - 2014
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WW Norton
Not only the erudite Thomas Jefferson, the wily and elusive Ben Franklin, and the underappreciated Thomas Paine, but also Ethan Allen, the hero of the Green Mountain Boys, and Thomas Young, the forgotten Founder who kicked off the Boston Tea Party—these radicals who founded America set their sights on a revolution of the mind. Derided as “infidels” and “atheists” in their own time, they wanted to liberate us not just from one king but from the tyranny of supernatural religion.The ideas that inspired them were neither British nor Christian but largely ancient, pagan, and continental: the fecund universe of the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius, the potent (but nontranscendent) natural divinity of the Dutch heretic Benedict de Spinoza. Drawing deeply on the study of European philosophy, Matthew Stewart pursues a genealogy of the philosophical ideas from which America’s revolutionaries drew their inspiration, all scrupulously researched and documented and enlivened with storytelling of the highest order. Along the way, he uncovers the true meanings of “Nature’s God,” “self-evident,” and many other phrases crucial to our understanding of the American experiment but now widely misunderstood.Stewart’s lucid and passionate investigation surprises, challenges, enlightens, and entertains at every turn, as it spins a true tale and a persuasive, exhilarating argument about the founding principles of American government and the sources of our success in science, medicine, and the arts.
Longlisted for the National Book Award. Where did the ideas come from that became the cornerstone of American democracy?

Baker & Taylor
Discusses how America's revolutionaries--including Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen--were inspired by ideas that were ancient and pagan in nature, including the work of Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius and Dutch heretic Benedict de Spinoza.

Book News
In this historical study for general readers and history buffs, author Stewart employs a conversational tone and an accessible narrative to reveal the European roots of the American founders’ deist philosophy. He reminds readers that the founders were actually religious radicals, departing from the mainstream Christianity of their time. Their philosophies are traced to the ideas of Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza, English philosopher John Locke, and German thinker Gottfried Leibnitz. There is special focus on the ideas of forgotten founder Thomas Young, who organized the Boston Tea Party. Author Stewart has written a previous book on the same subject for a more scholarly audience. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Discusses how America's revolutionaries—including Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen—were inspired by ideas that were ancient and pagan in nature, including the work of Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius and Dutch heretic Benedict de Spinoza. 20,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393064544
Branch Call Number: 277.3 St49n
Characteristics: 566 pages ; 25 cm


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Victor Lucas Mar 09, 2016

Five Stars! Nature's God is heavy going but it unpacks the complexities that lie behind the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution better than anything I've ever read. If you want to argue against the Christian Nationalists, then Moral Minority is probably a more accessible and useful book, but Nature's God opens a door to understanding with historical context and a vivid look at the personalities involved.

Feb 16, 2016

Right-wing corporatists and christianists hate democratic government because it is of the people, by the people and for the people.

Mee2 Feb 08, 2016

Stewart at least got one thing right: Republic!

serob Jan 13, 2016

Effectively refutes any argument that America was founded on Christian principles and the founders of this nation were Christians by tracing the fundamental ideas inherent in fomenting the revolution and writing our Constitution from their origins in Epicurian philosophy through Locke to the founders themselves. Although sometimes hard to follow for the casual reader, it is well worth the effort.

LRS1969 Feb 11, 2015

One of the absolutely BEST books on this subject.

Should be required reading by EVERY right-wing Tea Party type, self-proclaimed right-wing "patriot" and fundamentalist Christian!!!

I can not recommended it highly enough!

(Especially to "Christian Patriot" groups such as the statewide and local branch "Liberty Coalition" organization and their members, including those of the State's Republican Party Central Committee!)


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