George Washington
'Nature's God' explores 'heretical origins' of religion in U.S.
'Nature's God' explores 'heretical origins' of religion in U.S.

Matthew Stewart wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. The principles that inspired the American Revolution, he argues in "Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic," belong to an intellectual tradition dating to ancient Greece and reviled by every variety of Christian — early church fathers, Catholic clergy and Protestant divines alike. Rooted in the philosophy of Epicurus, who saw happiness as the highest good, this tradition flowered in the 17th century to produce wide-ranging inquiries into the nature of God, humanity, religion and society that got Benedict de Spinoza labeled "the...