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Who is the Supreme Being? God or Man?
on August 21, 2014
Provides a historical analysis of religious belief. Presents the opinion that Adam Smith's observation that free market in religion would benefit religion just as as competition in commerce would benefit consumers. This has proven correct. The European custom of connecting the state and religion has secularized belief and increased atheism. The pluralism of America has produced believers around the world.
Chapter one covers two reasons for the triumph of secularism in Europe. First was confidence in human reason to bring peace and religion to bring war. Second was confidence in human goodness.
They note that Robespierre devised a new religion, The Cult of the Supreme Being. (Page 35) "The revolutionaries set the fashion or all subsequent assault on religion - replacing the worship of God with the worship of man. Alexis de Tocqueville complained that they turn the revolution itself into a new kind of religion, an incomplete religion it is true, without God. . . But one which nevertheless, like Islam, flooded the earth with its soldiers, apostles and martyrs."
"this tradition was picked up by many others. Saint-Simon, the god father of French socialism, christened his philosophy the new Christianity - what was new about it being the substitution of man for God."
They connect Karl Marx to this goal to replace god with Man. Marx's writing is full of Christian symbolism used for his ends. "communism is heaven, the revolution is the last judgment, workers are the saved and capitalists the damned. "
They explain that four secular faiths replaced Christianity: Science, culture, the nation-state and socialism. They most powerful is science. One of the products of this cult was social Darwinism. The epicenter of this worship of race was Germany. This worship was based on the scientific belief in evolution. The University of strausbourg had six thousand volumes on race.
(Page 46) "Hegel regarded the state as 'the divine idea as it exists on earth' and, more famously, 'as the march of God in the world.'. . 'It is the embodiment of the ethical principal and rational purpose - all knowing and all providing. The essence of human freedom lies in surrendering your will to the higher will of the state.' These ideas naturally appealed to politicians keen to increase their power, especially ones found the church on their way."
This faith is now fading due to the horrible actions of State worshipers in WWI and then Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Tojo, etc..
(Page 48) "Both Hitler and Stalin owed a debt to Hegel's idea that freedom lies in the "realm of necessity" - submerging the individuals will into the will of the collective- And that HISTORY's purposes justify the crushing of individual rights."
In examining the history of belief in America, they note Jefferson's comment that the future lay with Unitarianism (non-trinitarian Christianity) "I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian." (Page 68) Priestly convinced Jefferson to convert in his old age.
The authors repeat W.E.H. Lecky's conclusion that the Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended the wars of religion and created the secular European world thereafter. However, after four hundred years, this 'Westphalian' peace has disappeared. "The greatest change in foreign-policy in the recent past has been revival of religion. It is impossible to understand international affairs today without taking faith into account. The most important single political act of the 21st century so far - the terrorist attacks of September 11 - was an act of religious war. . . Many European statesman are fixated on the possibility of a religious war between radical Islam and Christian America - probably with Israel as the proximate cause." (Page 299)
Clear writing. Provides historical background. Persuasive argument that religion, both the theological and secular types, are the driving forces of today's world. The intellectual world that has ignored and ejected religious ideas from consideration needs to reconsider. Very difficult.