Attacks on Religion: Result of Lost Faith in Enlightenment
November 29, 2006 · By Tom Cerber
So argues Richard A. Shweder of the University of Chicago:
The Enlightenment story has its own version of Genesis, and the themes are well known: The world woke up from the slumber of the â€œdark ages,â€ finally got in touch with the truth and became good about 300 years ago in Northern and Western Europe.
As people opened their eyes, religion (equated with ignorance and superstition) gave way to science (equated with fact and reason). Parochialism and tribal allegiances gave way to ecumenism, cosmopolitanism and individualism. Top-down command systems gave way to the separation of church from state, of politics from science. The story provides a blueprint for how to remake and better the world in the image and interests of the Westâ€™s secular elites.
Unfortunately, as a theory of history, that story has had a predictive utility of approximately zero. At the turn of the millennium it was pretty hard not to notice that the 20th century was probably the worst one yet, and that the big causes of all the death and destruction had rather little to do with religion. Much to everyoneâ€™s surprise, that great dance on the Berlin Wall back in 1989 turned out not to be the apotheosis of the Enlightenment.
The editorial is too simplistic and void of evidence, but an interesting speculation.