Friday, February 03, 2006

Ben Franklin

I bought the girls a tape of the history of Benjamin Franklin. It is one I used to listen to when I was little and even though it is simplistic and there are major gaps, it is still interesting. What I found most interesting is that Ben Franklin was a proponent of Intelligent Design in a reverse sense.

Most of America were Christians whose concept of God was the fire and brimstone Punisher of the transgressions of man. But Ben Franklin's Intelligent Design (and that isn't what he called it) theory was not meant to prove the existence of God, but to prove the equality of man. His concept of the Creator was not of a random, capricious God, but of one who set the Great Laws of biology and physics in motion. His theory was that these laws should be what governs man and not the capricious will of a monarch. That they were ordained by a Higher Power - a "Majestic Intellect" - I think were his words - that was not chaotic and vengeful, but structured and benign. I believe this is what directed his allegiance to ideas of Liberty and the equality of man.

Now anyone who has read anything of Ben Franklin knows he was a character, not a humorless, one-dimensional, souless academic, in spite of his fascination with the order of the Universe. Anyone who proposes the turkey as our national bird simply can't be.

I was about 7 or 8 the last time I heard listened to that tape, but there are lines in there from Mr. Franklin that have shaped my political opinion to this day.

There is really no point to this other than to remark on a remarkable man who was considered the grandfather of our country and who would have celebrated his tri-centennial birthday on January 17th.

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