Anthony Collins

A Discourse of Free-Thinking

…by Free-Thinking alone Men are capable of knowing that a perfectly Good, Just, Wise and Powerful Being made and governs the World; and from this Principle they know, that he can require nothing of Men in any Country or condition of Life, but that whereof he has given them an opportunity of being convinc’d by Evidence and Reason in the Place where they are, and in that Condition of Life to which Birth or any other Chance has directed them; that an honest and rational Man can have no just reason to fear any thing from him: nay, on the contrary, must have so great a Delight and Satisfaction in believing such a Being exists, that he can much better be suppos’d to fear lest no such Being should exist, than to fear any harm from him. — from A Discourse of Free-Thinking

Anthony Collins (1676–1729) was an English philosopher and a leading proponent of deism — the belief in a non-personal divine being whose existence can be established by reason — without the aid of faith or organized religion. A close friend of John Locke, Collins sought to synthesize the writings of previous deists, or freethinkers. An avowed believer, Collins eschewed atheism and agnosticism alike, noting in A Discourse of Free-Thinking that “ignorance is the foundation of atheism, and freethinking the cure of it.”

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