Galileo Galilei
     1564 - 1642

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Charles Darwin
    1809-1882

 

 

 

PART IV.  MODERN RELIGIOUSNESS AND BEYOND
The word "modern" is often used to describe the last four hundred years of Western civilization.  In these times, religions have become more patient with earthly imperfection and hopeful of improvement.  This new religiousness has also included an increased freedom and flexibility, a respect for individual human rights and responsibility, and a skepticism about miracles.

CHAPTER 12
Science and Secularity:
The Modern Era Begins

Outline
Early Modern Science
   Galileo and the Beginnings of Modern Science
   Deism
   Naturalism
   Deism as a Religious Humanism
Religious Tolerance
Evolution and Agnosticism
   Evolutionary Theory
   Atheists and Agnostics
   Agnosticism and Social Darwinism
Secular Evolutionary Humanisms
   A Substitute for Religion
   Marxism
   Huxley's Earthly Religion
   The Hidden Forms of Salvation
   The End of Easy Optimism
Summary

INTRODUCTION
Modern religion has tended to have confidence in the intrinsic importance of earthly life.  This new mood can be traced in part to the fifteenth-century Renaissance in Europe, during which a sense of optimism and fascination with earthly life flourished.  This period also marked the beginning of modern science.

EARLY MODERN SCIENCE
Modern science-- a system of thought based on belief in an orderly universe-- developed in Europe and America after the Renaissance.  One of the most important early innovators in science was the philosopher Galileo Galilei.  He sought to explain the universe using empirical testing and mathematical models.

Deism
The natural theology known as deism likened God to a master clockmaker who had constructed the universe to function in an orderly, predictable manner.  

Naturalism
One of the most basic precepts of science is "naturalism"-- the idea that every event can be fully explained by natural causes.  This type of thinking can exclude belief in God, or be indifferent to the existence of God, or claim that these natural causes are planned, created, and sustained by God from the beginning.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE
Respect for other religious traditions is common to "modern" religion.  The roots of religious tolerance in the West began with the rational reflections of deists.  Religious tolerance is not always found in historic universalist religions.

EVOLUTION AND AGNOSTICISM
In the 18th and 19th centuries deism began to fade in the face of various kinds of evolutionary theories.  These ideas reflected findings in astronomy, geology, and biology, including the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species.  As scientific study cast doubt on some long-held religious beliefs many people became atheists or agnostics.  Social Darwinism claimed that social evolution would make society better and better, without any need for divine guidance.

 

SECULAR EVOLUTIONARY HUMANISMS
Movements that are both secular and celebrate the human capacity for positive change are often called "secular humanist."  Humanism in any form is a basic-value morality system that seeks a humane, loving, free, and creative existence for all people.  The ideas of Karl Marx and Julian Huxley are good examples of secular humanisms.  These secular humanisms offer a quasi-religious salvation by claiming that there will one day be a utopian earthly existence.  The optimism of secular humanism was shattered by the experience of the First World War.

End of notes to Chapter 12

This page last changed Tuesday May 20, 2003

In The Presence of Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 


     Karl Marx
       1818-1883