Ethan Allen


Allen (1738–1789) played a significant role in the Revolutionary War, capturing Fort Ticonderoga, but he also wrote the nation's philosophical treatise on deism. Reason, the Only Oracle of Man: A Compendious System of Natural Religion, regrettably displays the strong anti-Christian tendencies of the movment. Nonetheless, the work is an exceptionally important example of the rational defense of theological and moral truth.

The Nature and Attributes of God

To have a proper conception of the Divinity, we must set aside supernatural dogma and employ the power of reason in the search for religious truth. We can deduce the attributes of God through reflection on nature.

Creation, Eternity, and Divine Providence

God exists eternally as the Creator. The study of the heavens should elicit our awe for God's power and majesty. The Divine Providence governs the world through the laws of nature, but also grants us freedom.

Reason as the True Guide to Religion

We should reject the claim that reason is depraved; this power is instead the source of our likeness to God. Reason gives us knowledge of natural religion, which is all that is necessary for the good order of society.

The Source of Happiness and the Natural Law

Morality is the source of happiness in this life and the next. Our grasp of right and wrong does not follow from the Bible, but from reflection on the natural fitness of things. We should trust only in reason.