Explain the analogy: “Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence?”

The analogy “Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence?” appears in Thomas Paine’s work “The Age of Reason,” specifically in his criticism of religious doctrines that attempt to present supernatural events as true. The analogy illustrates the absurdity of restoring something to its original state when it has been tainted or corrupted beyond repair.

The Age of Reason

In this context, Paine uses the analogy to challenge religious orthodoxy and the notion of miracles. He argues that religious institutions have taken stories of miracles from ancient texts and presented them as literal truth, even though they defy natural laws and rational explanations. Paine contends that it’s just as impossible to restore the credibility of these miraculous stories as it is to restore innocence to an act of prostitution.

By using this analogy, Paine underscores his point that once an idea or concept has been altered, embellished, or manipulated to fit a particular narrative, it becomes virtually impossible to return it to its original state of purity or authenticity. He is critical of the attempts made by religious institutions to present supernatural events as historical facts without allowing for critical examination and questioning.

Overall, Paine’s use of the analogy serves to emphasize his skepticism towards religious dogma and his call for a rational, evidence-based approach to understanding the world rather than relying on blind faith in unverifiable supernatural events.

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