Benjamin Franklin

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What is Benjamin Franklin’s attitude toward religion? Discuss this aspect of his Autobiography.

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"Here is my Creed," Benjamin Franklin wrote to Ezra Stiles -- the Calvinist president of Yale College -- in 1790. "I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this ... As for Jesus of Nazareth ... I think the system of Morals and Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw ... but I have ... some Doubts to his Divinity; though it is a Question I do not dogmatism upon, having never studied it, and think it is needless to busy myself with it now, where I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble."

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts, one of 10 children to his parents Josiah and Abiah Folger. Benjamin Franklin's father wanted him to attend school to become a clergyman, but that was not in the cards for him, much by his own design. In fact, he was always a single-minded and headstrong man, leaving an apprenticeship with his elder brother "illegally", and running away to Philadelphia to begin life anew in a new city at the age of 17. And when he left, he also left the Puritan church of his parents.

After he grew up, he became an advocate for republicanism, and -- like its other advocates -- emphasized that the new American Republic could only function if its constituents were virtuous. He went on to write extensively about virtue, but his writings never included the fundamental Puritan ideals he grew up with, including the belief in salvation and the divinity of Jesus as the Son of God. In his autobiography, he indicated that he was a "deist", someone who believes in a single God.

Though he does seem very liberal and progressive by today's political standards, he did introduce the practice of daily common prayer during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The motion, however, was met with much resistance and was never even brought to a vote, let alone enacted.

But Benjamin Franklin was known for being respectful and tolerant of all churches and practices. And though he was raised with Puritanical values, he decided for himself that God's truths can be discovered through nature and rationalism.

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