Talk:Benjamin Franklin

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Deist vs. Christian

One dictionary definition of "Christian" is "One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. 2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus."

In 1792, in the letter he wrote to Ezra Stiles, he expresses "doubt as to his Divinity," further suggested by his referring to Jesus as "Jesus of Nazareth" rather than as "Jesus Christ." In adulthood he was never a member of any organized denomination. In the letter to Stiles it is clear that he admires the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus, and that he is not opposed to Christianity... nor to any sect which embodies "the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion" as he describes them.

He clearly does not meet definition #1. He might just possibly be considered to meet definition #2.

When he says that that the religion of Jesus "has received many corrupting Changes" this is surely distancing himself from the organized religious denominations that label themselves as Christian. I can't help seeing a wry lifted eyebrow when he says "I see no harm in its being believed, if that belief has good consequences, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed." The same is surely true when he says "I do not observe that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Unbelievers in his Government of the world with any Marks of his displeasure." In other words, live and let live. Dpbsmith 18:38, 28 January 2007 (EST)

The quote from his letter to Ezra Stiles, pretty clearly shows that he himself was not a christian, but believed it usefull for the public to be christians, because they would follow christian morals. --TimSvendsen 22:49, 28 January 2007 (EST)

I think that this page is focused too much on the religion of Ben Franklin instead of his life and accomplishments. We should have maybe 1-2 paragraphs on his religion. --TimSvendsen 22:59, 28 January 2007 (EST)

  • Given the interest in the topic here, I don't think it should be shortened, but perhaps it should be a separate section. Currently the story is told mostly in Franklin's own words, which is a Good Thing. Dpbsmith 06:07, 29 January 2007 (EST)
  • Exactly. I think that We could maybe have a debate page: "What was Benjamin Franklin's Religion," but I think that the page on Benjamin Franklin should not be almost completely devoted to his religion. --TimSvendsen 08:52, 29 January 2007 (EST)
  • One dictionary definition of deism is:
The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.
I think I have to agree that Franklin didn't fit this definition, since he believes in "Providence." Dpbsmith 06:11, 29 January 2007 (EST)
REPLY Part of Conservapedia's value is in debunking distortions and misperceptions. The claim that Benjamin Franklin was a deist is incorrect and worth debunking by clearing stating Franklin's beliefs in his own words. I'm going to see what Wikipedia says about this now.--Aschlafly 09:17, 29 January 2007 (EST)
Reply Benjamin Franklin Was a Deist. The evidence also shows that he changed his mind later in life. We cannot deny that he was a deist. what we can say that other sources will usually not say is that he gave it up later. --TimSvendsen 09:22, 29 January 2007 (EST)


What is being debated here? Franklin was clearly not a christian. He clearly was a deist at one point, and he clearly gave up this deism. What is in question, the degree of his deism?

--BenjaminS 09:45, 29 January 2007 (EST)

I am not totaly convinced that Franklin ever did give up Deism. Just because he believed in providence. Looking at several different sources, some say that providence is against deism, while others say that deists can either believe or deny the existence of providence. all of Franklin's other beliefs were clearly deist. --TimSvendsen 10:51, 29 January 2007 (EST)


"Mr. President [George Washington] ... I have lived, sir, a long time, and, the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men."

This quote seems to indicate that Franklin believed that God involves himself in affairs on the earth -- a belief that does seem to go against deism.

--BenjaminS 11:06, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Ben, under your reasoning, St. Paul was not a Christian. Should we say that? Of course not. Benjamin Franklin considered, accepted and THEN REJECTED deism.
Thanks, by the way, to Dpbsmith for his further information below on this interesting issue. --Aschlafly 11:49, 29 January 2007 (EST)
Since deism isn't an organized denomination, there isn't any really definitive statement of what deism is or is not. But, just for laughs, suppose we construct a scale with "Christian" at 10 and "deist" at 0. Put the dictionary definition I quoted at 0. Put Thomas Paine (who rejected revelation and the divinity of Jesus) at 0. Put the Nicene Creed at 10. Where would Franklin fall? I'd personally say about a 2... and I'd put modern-day Unitarian Universalists at about the same place. Dpbsmith 11:30, 29 January 2007 (EST)
The Columbia Encyclopedia says, by the way:
d´sts) (KEY) , term commonly applied to those thinkers in the 17th and 18th cent. who held that the course of nature sufficiently demonstrates the existence of God. For them formal religion was superfluous, and they scorned as spurious claims of supernatural revelation. Their tenets stemmed from the rationalism of the period, and though the term is not now generally used, the tenor of their belief persists. The term freethinkers is almost synonymous. Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau were deists, as were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.[1]
This is a broader definition of "deist" than the dictionary definition I cited. Dpbsmith 11:33, 29 January 2007 (EST)
Encyclopaedia Britannica has some interesting things to say here. Apparently you can read the whole article, but you need to page through it... In particular:
At times in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the word Deism was used theologically in contradistinction to theism, the belief in an immanent God who actively intervenes in the affairs of men. In this sense Deism was represented as the view of those who reduced the role of God to a mere act of creation in accordance with rational laws discoverable by man and held that, after the original act, God virtually withdrew and refrained from interfering in the processes of nature and the ways of man. So stark an interpretation of the relations of God and man, however, was accepted by very few Deists during the flowering of the doctrine, though their religious antagonists often attempted to force them into this difficult position....
It identifies deism closely with "Edward Herbert (later 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury) in the first half of the 17th century" and says that
By the end of the 18th century, Deism had become a dominant religious attitude among intellectual and upper class Americans. Benjamin Franklin, the great sage of the Colonies and then of the new republic, summarized in a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College, a personal creed that almost literally reproduced Herbert's five fundamental beliefs. The first three presidents of the United States also held Deistic convictions, as is amply evidenced in their correspondence. “The ten commandments and the sermon on the mount contain my religion,” John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1816. Dpbsmith 11:41, 29 January 2007 (EST)
The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica has a long article which I've no time to digest now, available online at http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Deism . This is an interesting source because the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, while not exactly Christian, had a typical mainstream Victorian point of view, i.e. Church of England. It doesn't say anything specific about any Founding Fathers. Dpbsmith 11:46, 29 January 2007 (EST)

The founder of Deism was Lord Herbert of Cherbury. [1] He came up with 5 esentials of Deism which are "(1) a belief in the existence of the Deity, (2) the obligation to reverence such a power, (3) the identification of worship with practical morality, (4) the obligation to repent of sin and to abandon it, and, (5) divine recompense in this world and the next"[2] Recompence means: To award compensation for; make a return for. [3] "Recompense in this world" would then imply that God does display some amount of control over the earth. Franklin's belief in Providence, therefore is not contradictory with the beliefs of deism, and along with his other beliefs almost exactly matches Cherbury's 5 statements. --TimSvendsen 12:10, 29 January 2007 (EST)

  • Looking for common ground... anyone seriously disagree with any of the following statements?
    • Benjamin Franklin did not subscribe to the Nicene Creed.
    • Benjamin Franklin was not a member of any Christian denomination or any "organized religion."
    • Benjamin Franklin believed in a judgement and an afterlife, and a God that "governs by Providence."
    • Benjamin Franklin praised "Jesus of Nazareth" and "the Christian religion."
    • Benjamin Franklin at one time held beliefs that he described as "deist."
    • Benjamin Franklin was not an atheist.
    • Benjamin Franklin was not an agnostic.
Dpbsmith 19:43, 29 January 2007 (EST)

I agree, and would add the following

    • Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian.
    • Benjamin Franklin Held beliefs consistant with or very close to deism for most of his life.

--TimSvendsen 19:49, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Was this what he rejected:

“I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler.” - To the Editor of the Federal Gazette. [4]

Quite well done article by the way. Honest and informative, and overall well written.Daniel1212 23:53, 9 October 2009 (EDT)

We appreciate that very much, Daniel, and welcome your further contributions.--Andy Schlafly 00:08, 10 October 2009 (EDT)

Too Much mention of religion

This page should not read like a debate on Franklin's religion. I would propose significantly cutting down the section on his religion, and expanding the section on the rest of his life. Any objections? --TimSvendsen 16:37, 4 March 2007 (EST)

We're this not the Conservapedia I would be inclined to agree with you. However, in this place, the only information of consequence is clearly how Ben Franklin, a man who describes himself as a Deist who has doubts as to Christ's divinity, is a Christian. If we cant decide what his religion is and correlate it to every facet of his life, then whats the point of talking about him at all? </smarm>
Seriously people, it would kill you to tone down the Religious commentary just a bit? Or if not, can I ask you to re-read his "passionate plea?" Reads to me more like he's just acknowledging the power of belief among the masses and how he believes that prayer isn't a bad thing, which doesn't contradict Deism at all.--RexMundane 11:23, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
The dispute over Franklin's religious position is crucial to the matter of "debunking the founding". Let's not discourage development of this aspect of the article. If it needs to be a spin-off, we can create Religion of Ben Franklin (or something).
Remember, there are home-schooled kids here. They would like to contribute, if we let them. Let's not make this project hostile to Christian or Conservative ideas. Water the plants, give them sunshine, and watch them grow. --Ed Poor 11:27, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
If growth requires that we let them claim Ben Franklin wasn't a Deist when he himself says that he was, is that something that really ought to be encouraged? If it means endorsing the selective quoting of passages where he acknowledges the social value of religions and moral systems, Christianity in particular, to endorse the idea that he was a practicing Christian himself, that should just be allowed without comment? Growth means we allow the distorted suggestion that Franklin worshipped Jesus when not only did he doubt Christ's divinity, but also believed that Christ Himself was a Deist? We should encourage this?

That's not what I meant. We should allow contributors to cite arguments for and against any view of Benjamin's Franklin's religious outlook.

A typical argument of biased liberals is to claim that no one disagrees with them. If that doesn't hold water, they say no one worth listening disagrees, etc.

A balanced treatment would simply note all expressed viewpoints and let the reader decide which are more credible. For example, suppose all you knew about global warming was 4 statements: two by politicians, one by a scientists speaking for himself, and one by an international panel convened by the United Nations:

  1. Former VP: warming is caused by humans and we must stop it
  2. Senator: that's a hoax, and we should ignore it
  3. Scientist: Anthropogenic global warming is not a matter of scientific consensus, and proponents of immediate action exaggerate the risks of further warming
  4. IPCC: warming is caused by humans and we must stop it

On this basis alone, how would you choose?

"The Earth is flat." "No it isn't, it's round." "Is." "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "IS!!!!!" "Well, I'm convinced!" --Gulik3 17:52, 19 May 2007 (EDT)

Relevance of Deism

Although the topic of Benjamin Franklin's religious views is certainly worthy of merit in an article about him, it should not dominate the article. This article reads like a debate about Franklin's religion that assumes the reader to have prior knowledge about Franklin. An encyclopedia article about a topic should first lay out as many relevant, unbiased facts as possible, before delving into controversial topics. The introductory paragraph of Wikipedia's entry has more factual information about Franklin than this entire article, which uses most of its length to "prove" that Franklin was not a deist using a couple quotes. For God's sake, this article doesn't even mention the date (beyond year) or place of Franklin's birth! If you want people to use Conservapedia over Wikipedia, it has to become a source of actual information instead of a site for people to post the conservative side of a debate about some topic relating to the article. -Gogyra

A rather sensible idea. This should be on a policy page somewhere. --Ed Poor 15:02, 27 March 2007 (EDT)

Above, there's a comment, "We should allow contributors to cite arguments..." I wanted to point that comment out because I agree with it. What I think is being missed here, is that this article is not citing an argument, but engaging in one. There's a fundamental question here: should Conservapedia be a home to essays which attempt to argue points in order to draw their own conclusions? One other thing. This article is about one of the most important framers of the fundamental ideas that shaped the founding of the United States. It mentions the word "deist" or "deism" 12 times. I think that's a massive over-emphasis on his religion. I'm not saying we should remove those details, but consolidating and summarizing might make sense. It would certainly make the need for further detail on the rest of his life more apparent. -Harmil 12:05, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

Agree completely. I'm much more interested in his contributions to the Framing. I'd also like to hear more about his moral life (work on your virtues every day); his work on the post office, library, Franklin stove, etc.; his diplomatic initiatives abroad. --Ed Poor 12:09, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Partly my fault. At one point, Andrew Schlafly was working some point--which he put on the main page--can't find it, main page being template based. I'll possibly caricature it as "liberals say the Founding Fathers were deists, but in fact none of them were" or something like that. I don't remember all the back-and-forth, but: Franklin was a deist; no, he wasn't because he promoted public prayer; yes, he was, because he said so in his autobiography; no, he wasn't, because all he said was that he had been a deist briefly in his flaming youth, and he retracted it later; yes, he was, because of what he said in his letter to Stiles (see article); no, he wasn't because those beliefs don't match the definition of deism (a God who created the world but took no further role); yes, he was, because there's more than one definition of "deism" and he credo actually matches pretty well with Lord Herbert's, etc.
So the result was to inflate the part of the article dealing with his religious beliefs.
I like the current paragraph--yours, I think--beginning with "He was called a Deist because..." If people can stick to that, the rest can be trimmed. Although I do think his "creed" is highly relevant, because it's in its own words and it speaks for itself.
I think this is going to be an issue with all of the articles about the Founding Fathers. Last time I looked at George Washington it made what I suspect is an overly strong a case for his being a "Christian." Haven't researched it, so I could be wrong, and don't care much about it, but I thought Washington was sort of a "social churchgoer" who didn't say much about religion in his public role. Dpbsmith 12:35, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
It sounds, my historically-minded friend, like the dispute is over the degree of religiosity amoung the founders; and over the extent to which the Founding was a Christian phenomenon or a secular one.
  • Was the first amendment intented to help religious people practice their religion? Or primarily to restrict religious practice and exalt secularism? --Ed Poor 12:52, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

References

  1. http://www.theologicalstudies.org/what_is_deism.html
  2. http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/deismeng.htm
  3. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/recompense
  4. http://books.google.com/books?id=4VQSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA296&dq=Benjamin+Franklin+%E2%80%9CI+must+own+I+have+so+much+faith+in+the+general&ei=HQTQSvn5EqfkyQSFy5iPDg#v=onepage&q=Benjamin%20Franklin%20%E2%80%9CI%20must%20own%20I%20have%20so%20much%20faith%20in%20the%20general&f=false The records of the Federal convention of 1787, Volume 3 By United States. Constitutional Convention, Max Farrand

"He was not really a deist as liberals claim."

This is an outright lie. You can argue that his beliefs throughout his life encompassed more than the Deism he professed to, and that he saw the value of religion in society (as well as the forceful presence it had) but to say he never was one is a lie. Whoever put that on the front page is, to borrow a phrase, bearing false witness, and I'm fairly sure that whoever it is would also claim to believe that such is something he/she ought not to do, by dint of being punished for it severely. I would ask that this be corrected, but that would mean I risk being banned for pointing out that the CPedia, once again, conflicts with established facts.--RexMundane 11:04, 17 April 2007 (EDT)

Updated I see, and Thank you Ed, though I can't help but wonder how long it will take to be reversioned to the form more suited to the narrative this entire site wishes to tell. --RexMundane 10:52, 20 April 2007 (EDT)
Why so gloomy? With the exception of ToE, I have been able to get any idea into any article I choose. Work with me, okay? --Ed Poor 10:58, 20 April 2007 (EDT)
Well Ed, if you'll check the article right now, you'll see "why so gloomy." ASchlafly has decided only today that the objective, impartial statement of fact that was up there for the better part of three weeks was "liberally biased." Which is actually funny, because it would mean that your statement was coming from said "liberal bias" and I think both of know that isn't the case. AS won't allow anything in an artcle that does not conform to the narrative he wishes to convey. Please realize that. This isnt a community-based encyclopedia, its not an exchange of ideas to better understand and explore them, and above all else, its not a place where the king tolerates dissent. This is Aschlafly's soapbox to say whatever he wants the truth to be. If he wants Ben Franklin to be a devout christian, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary (such as saying he had doubts as to the divinity of Jesus) then gol-derning con-sarning dag-blammit, Ben Franklin is going to be a devout christian whether he was or not.
--Rex Mundane 10:47, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

I made a few changes to the quote, since it was not exactly as the source the author cited--1048247 13:56, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

Good on you for providing explanatory context for the "Creed" section. I'm guessing you can look forward to Aschlafly reversioning it and threatening to ban you within the hour.--Rex Mundane 15:37, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

Well, I hope that does not happen. But as a scholar of Franklin, he does fall more toward deism than anything else. A proper parsing of the quote should show that.--1048247 15:42, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

I hope I get to edit this piece in the future. That "Ben and Me" thing has got to go.--1048247 15:44, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

I object. What's your reason for removing it? And why did you remove a section of the article without providing an edit comment? Dpbsmith 15:14, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

I'll work some more on this tommorrow--1048247 17:07, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

Was there a good reason why you eliminated those sourced facts, SharonS?

Only that it seems to me you removed the objective facts that would dispute the site's preferred (false) narrative that says that Franklin, who professed to deism, was not a deist at all, ever. Do your actions have any basis in fact, or are you merely trying to manipulate history to suit you? Not that the latter would bar you from participation her of course, hey it would probably get you promoted to sysop if you weren one already.--Rex Mundane 13:44, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

I'm not interested in B. Franklin or his supposed deism, but SharonS changed in many places the text of the letter that 1048247 posted. Which one is the correct text, or are there more versions of the same letter? Leopeo 13:58, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Huh? What did she do other than bring capitalization into conformance with modern usage? That's not my preference but it is a perfectly justifiable thing to do. Was the meaning altered?
Even if you prefer the archaism, it's a little dishonest to throw around terms like "changed the text" without explaining what changes she made. Many would consider them harmless.
Lewis Carroll was very insistent on spelling the words won't, can't, and shan't as wo'n't, ca'n't, and sha'n't and the original editions and some modern ones honor his preference, but many modern editions just change them to the customary form without comment. Very few people think there's anything terrible about that.
If all Sharon did was change capitalization it's not very honest to use phrases like "changed the text" and "which is the correct text," as if she had made a substantive change that altered the meaning.
Dpbsmith 14:05, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
Well, she not only capitalized, but changed at least three words. No big deal, but why change them? Benjamin Franklin's english is perfectly intelligible. So better to cite the original. And I was curious if they are arbitrary changes or if there exist two versions of the same letter, maybe a contemporary and a modern adaptation. As I said, I'm not interested in Franklin or his deism. And please don't call me dishonest. Leopeo 15:03, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
My apologies. In the context—posted under Rex Mundane's remarks—I misinterpreted your point. Dpbsmith 15:09, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
No problem. Leopeo 15:47, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

I changed a few of the words in Franklin's letter to Ezra Stiles to make it conform to the cited text. There were a few minor diffrences. If one cites a source, you should try to be precise as possible, using "..." for omitted text and [] for changed or altered text. --1048247 14:15, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

I think you're right, and I do this myself. Dpbsmith 15:11, 9 May 2007 (EDT) P. S. How do you handle the case of text that uses that funny script s with a half-crossbar that makes it look like an f to modern eyes? It's actually a different letter from a lower-case s, isn't it? Dpbsmith 15:12, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Well, I write it as an "s," becuase that has become the convention. I read a lot of material from that period and now I just sort of automatically make the adjustment. Usaully I can i.d. it from contect. BTW, I addressed the "Ben and Me" question below. Let me know what you think.--1048247 15:53, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

It all depends how you define deism.

There is an oversimplified narrative... let's call it a fable... that says "Columbus thought the world was round when everyone else thought it was flat."

Similarly, there is an oversimplified liberal fable that says "The Founding Fathers were deists."

One reason why this is inaccurate when someone says it today is that it will be understood to mean deism as it is defined e.g. in dictionaries today: "The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation."

Franklin doesn't fit that definition, as shown by his creed. He clearly favored public prayer, of the sort of generic variety that would now be called "nondenominational." He clearly praised Christianity, but not so much because he thought it was true, as because he thought that it led to virtuous behavior.

On the other hand, in Franklin's time, he might have been "a deist" because his views are in good harmony with the views of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who originated the concept.

A succinct way to clarify the article is to qualify the word "deism" to say "deism as defined today." Dpbsmith 14:02, 9 May 2007 (EDT)


I think we can say Franklin was a deist because he identified himself as one. He respected Christianity, but did not embrace it, as shown in his "creed," written a month before his death.

I think we can say Franklin was a deist because he identified himself as one. He respected Christianity, but did not embrace it, as shown in his "creed," written a month before his death.

First, I believe he identified himself as having been a deist for a short period in his youth. Have you got a source for him self-identifying as a deist later in life?
Second, his self-identification isn't relevant if the word meant something different to him than it does today. It would be very misleading to say "Professor Ormsby Macnight Mitchell was a computer," even though there's a source that says "for some time he worked as a computer at one of the Royal Observatory desks."[2]. Today the word computer means a machine that performs calculations, not a human being that performs them. Dpbsmith 15:07, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

His self-identification is important. Franklin notes that he read anti-deism works in his youth, so he formulated some sort of idea as to what it was. Second, a careful reading of his creed reveals his deist leanings. He thinks that there is a god, but he does not identify who or what this god may be. Franklin, as I indicate does approve of Christianty, but does not seem to be one, refrenceing the second part of his creed and his converstions with George Whitefield.--1048247 15:42, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

And, I repeat... this is not a rhetorical question, I did some superficial due diligence some weeks ago but have no expertise in Franklin... where did he call himself "a deist" in mature adult life? As with Christianity, my (superficial) impression is that he approves of many things in deism, but it's not clear to me that he was a deist as the term was used then.
And you haven't addressed the terminology question. Is it fair to call him a deist, or even to say "he called himself a 'deist'" without qualification, if he wasn't a deist as the term is used today? Dpbsmith 16:13, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
Let's add this to our debate topics: Was Benjamin Franklin a deist? --Ed Poor 17:09, 19 May 2007 (EDT)

"Ben and Me"

This portion of the article is about a children's book. Perhaps it could be included as a link to an article regrading children's literature about the founders? It does not belong here. This is supposed to be an academic article. --1048247 15:45, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Ah. I think I see the problem. Why do you say it is "supposed to be an academic article?" I'm not sure that Conservapedia's mission has ever been well articulated, but part of it is to serve as a resource for homeschooled students. Think "World Book," not "Encyclopædia Britannica." Dpbsmith 16:07, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Hmmm...Do you think it should stay? I could see the cartoon itself as a way of introducing small children to Franklin, but I don't think most encyclopedias, even those for children, would include such a piece.--1048247 16:26, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Let's see what others think. I'm not disinterested: I added it. It did it mostly because of a complaint that the article seemed to be mostly about Franklin's religious views, and it seemed to me to be a) relevant content, that b) certainly had nothing to do with his religious views.
The cartoon is awful, by the way, but the book is great. The book is not for small children; in fact it's one of those books that appeals to adults just as much as kids. It sounds as if you haven't read it... I certainly wouldn't object to making it a separate article with a "See also" from this one (mentioning that it is fictional). Dpbsmith 18:46, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
I think it should be kept. "Ben and Me" is often a student's first introduction to Franklin. If it is not kept in this particular article, it should at least have it's own article with a link here - it is a nicely-written piece. --Hsmom 13:59, 14 May 2007 (EDT)

The occult

Some of the information on the occult was rather confused. Franklin is not known to have been a member of the Hellfire Club, though he did investigate and report on it at one point. He was associated with its founder, and thus we may suppose that he might have become a member, but stating that he was a member is not supported by the evidence. I've expanded that statement substantially, and indicated these points.

As for the bodies in his house, it's important to understand that the crime that he's suspected of is grave-robbing, which anyone involved in anatomical research in London at the time was guilty of (dissection of human cadavers was illegal). There was never an implication that I'm aware of that these bodies were involved in anything even hinting at the occult. I've also expanded on, and provided citations for that section, though if someone can find better citations with more detail about the investigation, that would be great. -Harmil 17:22, 4 June 2007 (EDT)

additions

! Part of this article was copied from Conservapedia and Wikipedia but the copied text was originally written by me, RJJensen (under the name Richard Jensen and rjensen) and does not include alterations made by others on that site. Conservlogo.png
RJJensen 19:06, 9 November 2008 (EST)

Bias

This introductory sentence for religious beliefs strikes me as extremely biased against faith, as well as being incorrect in describing Franklin's growing faith as he aged:

Unable either to reject the grim Calvinism of his youth or to embrace the purely mechanistic universe of Deism, Franklin ultimately experienced a deep ambivalence about his beliefs, and throughout his life he was consistent only in his conviction that individuals had the right to be inconsistent in matters of faith ....

--Andy Schlafly 20:38, 7 March 2009 (EST)

Franklin had a lifelong crisis of faith. I'll revise it. RJJensen 20:39, 7 March 2009 (EST)
He progress from deism in his youth to prayerful Christianity in his old age. It's a journey many people have, particularly those influenced by atheistic writers when young. As in calculating energy in physics, it's the endpoint that matters most, not the path traversed.--Andy Schlafly 20:45, 7 March 2009 (EST)
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