The Enlightenment in Britain began in the seventeenth century and remained the dominant mode of thought pervading most of the eighteenth century as well. While Enlightenment thinkers often had very different views, there were certain common themes. One was an emphasis on skeptism and scientific enquiry rather than acceptance of secular or religious authority. A related theme was the primacy of individual liberty and conscience. The American Revolution, despite its political opposition to Britain, was born out of British Enlightenment ideas. One of the most important philosophers in this process was Thomas Paine. Paine was deeply involved in and supportive of the American and French Revolutions. His pamphlet, Common Sense, was so influential in America that John Adams remarked:
Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.
Enlightenment thinkers such as Paine and the Scottish philosopher David Hume took their objections to authority to what they saw as a logical conclusion. One should reject the temporal tyrannies of kings and the authority of the Church and the Bible. Although the British Enlightenment thinkers were not all atheists, there was a strong strain of anti-clerical feeling in the movement. At the end of the seventeenth century, John Locke championed the separation of church and state. This ideal became one of the most important British Enlightenment principles. It spread to France and America and influenced the direction of both revolutions.