The Puritan Argument Analysis

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Behind every act of kindness lurks a selfish motivation. The Puritans were a religious sect in 17th century New England who believed in predestination or the belief that God had prior knowledge about each person’s fate in the afterlife. A core ideal of the Puritan religion was the principle of humanity being essentially evil and only doing good for others out of fear for God’s wrath or for selfish benefit. On the other end of the spectrum, is the humanists of the 18th century, many of which were America’s founding fathers. The humanists believed in the good of humanity and the concept of a loving, non-interfering God, a concept called Deism. Human motivation for good deeds is a mixture of both philosophies; however, it is primarily out of fear and selfishness. ` Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is proof of the Puritan ideology of human wickedness. For example, the Puritans believed that “if God…show more content…
For instance, when Edwards commands that all sinners are as hated by God “as the serpent is in ours” to the point of wishing them eternal torture if they are not one of the elect (Edwards 48). The flaw is that argument is the fact that a God so hateful of his own creations as to create a system of elect is illogical. Why do any good deeds if they will not impact your eventual fate in Hell? Subsequently, Franklin’s philosophy that “the conviction alone to live virtuously” is not enough to achieve moral perfection and that “contrary habits must be broken” first (Franklin 69). Finally, the evidence of human goodness can be seen in the random acts of kindness society sees every day with activities like Pay It Forward, acts of charity, and companionship amongst friends. Society is not as cynically jaded as the Puritans believed and the humanists have a point when they believe in the human spirit of
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