Thomas Paine was one of the most influential men of his time. For many, he is the quintessential figure of the Enlightenment. He wrote the eloquent words "These are the times that try men's souls " and inspired America to fight for independence.
His book, The Age of Reason was banned in France. It was published in three parts which appeared in 1794, 1795 and 1807.
Paine was a deist, which means he believed in a Deity, but not religion. This book was an attack on Christian tradition and beliefs. He challenged the idea of Biblical inerrancy, the superiority of reason to revelation and what he perceived as corruption in the Church.
The book caused a minor deist revival in America and had British leaders shaking in their boots, fearing an outbreak of the same head-rolling upheaval experienced during the French Revolution.