Atheism’s Founding Fathers: Ancient History Suggests Disbelief In the Supernatural Is As Old As the Hills
When the American War of Independence began, hereditary monarchs could no longer justify their power as the natural “divine right of kings.”
Yet these monarchs still governed the colonists as they had governed England for centuries. In early 1776, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” convinced the colonists that hereditary monarchy was not a natural form of government.
He pointed out that England had not been united under one king before the Norman Conquest in 1066 and that William the Conqueror used force, not elections, to establish his dynasty.
To Paine—and ultimately to many Americans—the “natural” form of government was democracy, not a hereditary monarchy.
Today, few Americans take monarchy seriously, yet many still think of Christianity as our country’s “natural” belief system.
Even while acknowledging the nation’s religious diversity, Americans often think of their country as a Christian nation, despite the founders being deists, not Christians.