Sunday, August 8, 2010

p. 92-93 A New Birth of Freedom, Jaffa

How did the line between pietism/triumphantism and atheism begin to fade?

Relevant Passages:

Calhoun accepted Hegel's belief that history is the unfolding of the mind of God. Belief in progress thereby came to be the essence of piety. For Calhoun, as for most of his contemporaries, the conquest of nature by modern science, making the laws of the material world subservient to human use, became the supreme manifestation of God's goodness. It became the heart of their Christianity, or of revealed religion generally. But the same facts that were the ground of Calhoun's piety were the ground of Karl Marx's atheism.30 The "high intellectual faculties" with which God had endowed man, according to Calhoun, and with which he was accomplishing the conquest of nature were the very reason why, according to Marx, God had become superfluous.

Harry Jaffa. A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (Kindle Locations 1538-1542). Kindle Edition.


While Calhoun would thank God for the ever increasing benefits resulting from the application of scientific methods to human needs, Marx would point out that men's prayers were being answered by relying on the use of their own unassisted human reason. Science could then be seen either as God's means of answering men's prayers or as the true reality that the idea of God had only obscured. As the nineteenth century progressed, as the prestige of science grew and scientific discoveries seemed more and more to he the answers to men's prayers, the presence of God seemed to become ever more identical with the presence of Science.

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