Essay Benjamin Franklin and Henry David Thoreau's Religions

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Benjamin Franklin and Henry David Thoreau's Religions Benjamin Franklin and Henry David Thoreau are by no means religious in any traditional sense of the word. If, however, “religious” is taken to mean the “belief in any sort of supreme being...that obliges ethical or moral conduct”, then both Franklin and Thoreau fall into this category. Though the two are strikingly opposite in their manner and social interaction, they are both held to a religious and personal standard. Their individual spiritual beliefs, ethical codes, and their “quality of life”show that all of their actions and thoughts are held by themselves to a higher standard. Both men have specific beliefs about the existence of God and…show more content…
He also believed in the joys of nature; he believed them to be gifts that life should be “earnestly lived from beginning to end”, true to one’s beliefs (Thoreau 34). Their beliefs also led to them possessing specific moral codes about how to live in the world. Franklin was more traditional in this sense; most of his influences came from Christianity and the Ten Commandments. He has very specific beliefs about right and wrong and this is shown in his determination to achieve perfection. He believed that God gave humans the common sense to know what was bad for them and that the reason certain things were bad was that they were detrimental to the individual or to society which can be seen in his attitude towards idle behavior like lust and drinking. Thoreau’s attitudes also reflect common sense. He highly disapproved of falsity, materialism, commercialism, capitalism, and greed. He said that the “mainspring of humanity is vanity” and that “the devil finds employment for the idle (Thoreau 39, 49) . All of these coincide with religious views, even if he was not a “religious” person. He prides himself on the fact that he is able to survive on a small amount of money and that he getting back to nature. Both men’s beliefs can be seen in their quality of life and in their interaction with the world. Franklin was a revolutionary; always seeking change for the better, whether in himself or
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