Nature’s God does not sit on a throne like a king.
My name is Kenny Grotewiel. I’m in the 6th grade. My teacher said I had to write a book report. I picked a book called Nature’s God.
Before I get to that, these are my brothers and sisters. I'm the tallest.
Back to the book. It talks about looking at God in a new way. Nature’s God does not sit on a throne like a king. God does not tell people what to do. This God is inside nature. That means he is in me I guess. Some really smart people who started the USA believed this. They were philosophers according to the book. They believed that each of us must use our brains to decide what is right and wrong. This is the way we get better and be nicer to other people.
I guess you could say this book is about philosophers. They sure write a lot about what they are thinking. Some lived a long time ago. The book mentioned Epicurus a lot. He lived before Jesus. He is like the father of the idea of Nature’s God and happiness was really important to him.
A man named Bruno really liked his ideas and said that outer space had no “beginning, end, center or edge”. It was a revolutionary idea when he lived, but the people in charge killed him in 1600 for his ideas on outer space.
Benedict de Spinoza was a philosopher who lived about 100 years before the Revolutionary War. He was not famous but influenced many of the philosophers during the time he lived. The Founding Fathers were big fans of his. He thought that doing good things is way more important than what you believe when it comes to God.
One of the philosophers in the book was named Locke and he really bugged me. He was from England and was scared of going to jail or made fun of. Because he was afraid to say that he really believed in Nature’s God, he talked out of both sides of his mouth ALL THE TIME. Some people even believed that he believed in the regular God.
It’s a long book and hard to read. There were lots of things I did not understand at first. After a while it did make more sense to me. Learning about Nature’s God was really cool and I am glad I picked this book. Not a lot of fun like a kid’s adventure book. But I guess fun in a learning kind of way.
I need to tell you the full name of the book. It is long. Nature’s God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic by Matthew Stewart. It came out in 2014. I was still in kindergarten. I am glad I waited until now to read it.
The book gave me a lot to think about. I’m excited about my next book, the Swiss Family Robinson. It looks like a fun book.
Ken Grotewiel here. Last winter and spring I read Nature’s God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic by Matthew Stewart. A bit deep for a sixth grader I know. Me also I can assure you.
This book outlines the 17th and 18th Century philosophical beliefs that shaped the worldly views of our Founding Fathers. Surprisingly, it provided context around my already existent spirituality.
Even though I was able to finish college, I was no philosophy major. No surprise that Nature’s God provided quite a challenge. Slogging through it a few pages each night before going to sleep, it somehow all began to settle in ― slowly.
Before Nature’s God, I remembered liking the Enlightenment period. Who couldn’t like a period of history named that? I did know our Founding Fathers were influenced by the thinking of this period which was still alive and well at their time.
As I read, I remembered the philosopher Locke, a foggy bookmark from my college days. Writing is his native English language was a big part of why he was so well known in America. His writing is still controversial today as to whether he was a Christian or not. The author of the book makes a compelling case that Locke was careful not to offend the authorities for fear of losing his livelihood as a writer and philosopher, or worse yet going to prison. As Kenny wrote, “he talked out of both sides of his mouth” to avoid both.
This book “enlightened” me about my own spirituality, tucked away while living a full life my adulthood years.
Ken Grotewiel is a Founding Member of the None of the Above Society.
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