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Alessio Artusi, Ethan Baginski

Mrs. Bedard

AP Language and Composition

11 January 2018

The skepticism of the lambs

Religion has been an important part of the lives of many throughout much of history,

however a thorn in the side of many faithful people is Atheism. Atheism is the rejection or non-

belief of a higher power, often leading to anger or bitterness directed at Atheists by religious

people. This has led to many debates from both sides, for example in the essay “Of Atheism”

Francis Bacon attempts to take a stance against atheism. He speaks on his stance of Atheism and

what conditions create Atheists. Through his use of rhetorical devices and powerful arguments,

Bacon informs his audience on why he believes it is wrong.

Bacon uses allusion to attempt to connect to the audience while also furthering his

argument for religion. He does this multiple times by referencing texts and important figures

from various religions. He also alludes to multiple countries and atheists in his essay. One of his

most powerful examples of allusion is when he states “I had rather believe all the fables in the

Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without mind” (Bacon

1-2). That is powerful as he uses it to relate to the audiences that would worship those Religious

texts, while also taking a stance against Atheism as he states he would rather believe all those

different stories than that the Atheist way of thinking is the proper way. There are more

examples of allusion throughout the essay, which all serve one or both of the same purposes as

the quote above. Overall allusion is certainly one of if not Bacon’s most powerful device, as he is

able to use it with multiple effects, while still having it be as powerful as the other devices he

uses in the essay.


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The main problem with trying to argue that there exists a higher power or that there is no

such thing is that there is no concrete proof to support either side, however Bacon overcomes this

through the use of the rhetorical device logos. Throughout the essay he uses several distinct

forms of logos, but none resonate louder than the syllogism where he states: “They that deny a

God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be

not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.” Bacon’s use of a syllogism as a

form of logos here leaves little room for an opposing party to refute his claim since it is all

deduced logically with only small logical leaps, which is reasonable given the ambiguity of the

topic. Logos essentially functioned as the backbone of his essay, giving logical rational to each

one of his claims which the audience could easily follow.

Finally, parallelism is used heavily throughout the piece in two distinct ways: to organize

his ideas and give his writing flow, and to juxtapose opposing ideas. The latter form is utilized

brilliantly when Bacon compares the common logic of an atheist to that of someone who is not

by saying: “ It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in

philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.” The parallel structure between the clauses

gives the sentence a philosophical flow which inclines the reader to think more critically about

what Bacon is actually saying with more credibility. Furthermore, the structure of the sentence

provides the perfect medium to compare the logic of both parties as it is evident to the reader

exactly what is different about the two just by which words are different in each clause, which

then allows Bacon to easily expand on those differences in the following sentence. The use of
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parallelism allows Bacon to convey the same ideas, however in a more clean, credible, and

efficient fashion.

Bacon’s use of rhetorical devices created a brilliant essay which was organized and clean

from the parallel structure, related to the audience through allusion, and finally was backed up

with solid reasoning from the logos. In the end the overall purpose of Bacon’s essay was to

inform the audience about the numerous ways that atheism is irrational in the hopes that they

would begin to think more critically about the topic and reach the conclusion themselves that

there must be some power much higher than each one of us.