Korihor and the Modern Antichrist

A. LeGrand Richards


Korihor and the Modern Antichrist

. . . the basic doctrines of Korihor, the anti-christ of the Book of Mormon were also espoused by some of the most influential thinkers of modern times, particularly in the establishment of what we call the “social sciences.”  Often these ideas are so craftily built into practices, that they may go undetected by the staunchest believers.

You know, the arguments against a belief in God haven’t changed much over time. Perhaps we tend to fear or resent anything more powerful than ourselves or maybe we tend to be disgusted by the thought of having to answer to anyone for our actions, but throughout the intellectual history of man, we have sought ways of avoiding the need to rely upon God. After the original apostles were killed, Christianity was engrafted into Greek philosophy. Some of the earliest recorded debates in the history of philosophy have been over the nature of God. Before long, as might be expected, it was assumed that God must be as the early Greek philosophers had imagined Him, without body, parts, passions, or constant “meddling’ into the affairs of men. It was decided that revelation had ceased and was complete. God was assumed to be little more than the First Cause, the force by which the universe began, the Prime mover, the necessary conclusion of intellectual reason. The idea that He was our Father-in-Heaven was assumed too absurd to be taken literally. As the oppressive bonds of apostate Christianity were recognized and loosened, the man of intellect tended to turn his attention away from religion almost completely. This man of “science” felt he needed the “academic freedom” to examine the universe without feeling any need to believe in a supernatural being. After all, if he could find a simple way of explaining all phenomena without the crutch of a Creator, people would no longer assume the need to lean upon one.

Today we live in intellectual cultures developed through centuries of philosophy. We pursue knowledge according to the well-established traditions of our intellectual cultures. With few exceptions, standards have been set and the disciples of each academic discipline are expected to conform to those standards. The standards prescribe such things as: the allowable research questions, the appropriate methods for examining them, and what might constitute legitimate evidence for supporting them. It is less likely to demonstrate the subtle (perhaps unintended) implications of these standards. God’s role in the pursuit of truth, for example, is one that few modern scholars discuss openly. In fact, there are strong norms in nearly every field to avoid or even silence the discussion altogether. It is the purpose of this paper to suggest that the basic doctrines of Korihor, the anti-christ of the Book of Mormon were also espoused by some of the most influential thinkers of modern times, particularly in the establishment of what we call the “social sciences.” Often these ideas are so craftily built into practices, that they may go undetected by the staunchest believers. I believe that one of the most effective tools for deceiving us is the false traditions built into academic disciplines. We have inherited the norms and traditions of these academic cultures, but seldom examine the religious implications of these traditions.

The story of Korihor is recorded in the 30th chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon. He lived during the reign of Alma the younger, preaching “against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ.” (Alma 30:6).  There was no law forbidding anyone from believing or not believing in the existence of God, but Korihor was very successful in his preaching. This disturbed the members of the community, so he was taken to Alma, the chief judge to see what should be done with him, (The reader is encouraged to read the full account: only a summary of what he taught will be treated here.)

As if he were hoping for such a confrontation with the chief judge, Korihor presented 5 basic arguments against belief in God.

1) Religious doctrines and prophecies are merely the foolish traditions and superstitions of our unenlightened ancestors, He argued, ‘Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are the foolish traditions of your fathers.” (vs,14 also vs. 16,23,27,& 31,)

2) Only empirical evidence is valid evidence. That which cannot be observed or measured should not be assumed to be real. Therefore you cannot know that there is a God. Korihor put it this way: “How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…” When challenged by Alma about his lack of evidence that there was no God, Korihor backed down from his atheistic position but not from his criterion for valid evidence, “I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe.” (vs. 13,15,24,26, & 48)

3) Religious convictions are the result of a frenzied and a deranged mind. Korihor argued that looking for a remission of their sins showed how sick their minds had become. This mental sickness led them, he taught, to “believe in things which are not so.” He said, “Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers…” (vs. 16 & 28)

4) No atonement is needed; we survive only through our own efforts, In Korihor’s words “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime,” (vs.17) This argument suggests that God does not interfere with the natural course of life. No one else can save us, we must save ourselves and not look to a hereafter to make right all earthly wrongs.

5) Churches are instruments of bondage, slavery, and oppression.  Korihor argued that people were chained both to foolish ideas and practices as well as unjustified authorities who glut themselves over the people. He spoke of mental and physical oppression and the creation of guilt based on ignorance. “I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances that are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.” (vs23) “And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.” (vs: 27,28,& 31)

The ideas of some of the modern anti-christs and heroes of the “social sciences,” can now be shown to parallel the arguments of Korihor. Indeed, some of their arguments may accurately apply to apostate religion, but the modern anti-christ throws out the baby with the bath water. There can be little doubt that the history of religion is filled with superstition, foolish traditions, frenzied minds and oppressive regimes, but this evidence cannot condemn religion as a whole, only that which some have done in its name.

On the other hand, it would not be appropriate to condemn any of these individuals or their followers for sincerely believing these doctrines if they had no opportunity to hear of something better. Nor is it clear that these arguments should dis-annul or poison all the other ideas they taught. The fundamental pervasiveness of these teachings, however, should encourage careful scrutiny and discernment by those who would avoid promoting scholarship that presumes agnosticism and denies any legitimate place for the religious.

Excerpts are included from: Auquste Comte, the father of sociology and positivism, Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, the founders of communism and social conflict theory, Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most flagrant and influential anti-christian philosophers, Sigmund Freud, founder of psycho-analysis and one of the most important figures in psychology, and John Dewey, perhaps the most influential American educational philosopher. Finally, statements from the Humanist Manifesto I & II have been included. Recognizing the potential for misinterpretation or distortion, I encourage you to examine the works from which these items have been selected to assure that these excerpts are not taken either out of context or intent.

Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

Though Comte’s works are not greatly heralded today, his religious positivism, which looked exclusively to the scientific method as the only method of knowledge, has become prevalent. His “Religion of Humanity” has no members today, but his focus on strictly natural phenomena remains.  He is the father of positivism and coined the term sociology, which meant the physics of society. Since Humanity exhibits the most complex combination of natural Laws he decided that it should become the new supreme being. It represented the highest natural phenomenon that could be scientifically studied. Observing the historical trend of man systematically turning away from the notion of an intervening God, Comte introduced what he called his “law of 3 stages.” He claimed that as it matures, mankind grows beyond the theological or fictitious stage to the metaphysical or abstract stage and finally to the scientific or positivistic stage.  The highest level of society was obtained when scientific research focused strictly on the needs of this world, paying no attention at all to any other world. Of Comte Butler expressed:

As has already been explained, the positivism which Comte created has become a rather common attitude today It is a kind of naturalism which regards laws and relations as fundamental rather than physical or spiritual substance of any kind… This level of intellectual insight, proposed by Comte as the highest and most refined, it should be observed, is both anti-supernatural and antimetaphysical. Not only is reality nonspiritual; it is also nonsubstantial. All the existence there is, is laws or relations as are revealed by science. 1

Of the 5 arguments of Korihor, Comte emphasized the empirical study of society, but presented his own version of these arguments.

1) Religious doctrines are the leftovers of an immature evolutionary stage of society that must be outgrown.  For him, belief in God was merely a necessary stage for society to go through in order to mature into the highest or scientific level. At that point, man could focus all his energy on Humanity:

This law consists in the fact that each of our principal conceptions, each branch of our knowledge, passes in succession through three different theoretical states: the theological or fictitious state, the metaphysical or abstract state, and the scientific or positive state…

In the theological state, the human mind directs its researches mainly toward the inner nature of beings, and toward the first and final causes of all the phenomena that it observes— in a word, toward absolute knowledge. It therefore represents these phenomena as being produced by the direct and continuous act of more or less numerous supernatural agents, whose arbitrary intervention explains all the apparent anomalies of the universe.

In the metaphysical state, which is in reality only a simple modification of the first state, the supernatural agents are replaced by abstract forces, real entitles or personified abstractions, inherent in the different beings of the world. These entities are looked upon as capable of giving rise by themselves to all the phenomena observed, each phenomenon being explained by assigning it to its corresponding entity.

Finally, in the positive state, the human mind, recognizing the impossibility of obtaining absolute truth, gives up the search after the origin and hidden causes of the universe and a knowledge of the final causes of phenomena. It endeavors now only to discover by a well-combined use of reasoning and observation, the actual laws of phenomena— that is to say, their invariable relations of succession and likeness. The explanation of facts, thus reduced to its real terms, consists henceforth only in the connection established between different particular phenomena and some general facts, the number of which the progress of science tends more and more to diminish. 2

He did not seek to abolish religion; instead, he set out to establish a completely scientific religion. He called it the “Religion of Humanity.” He believed that we should build upon the evolutionary trends of our ancestors, not on their ceremonies. These trends suggested to him that if we are, or want to be, mature as a society, we must cast off the fictitious theological religions and hold to a strictly scientific one:

…Humanity has now completed her initiation…She therefore renounces the fictions which she created for herself as the guides of her infancy, but in renouncing them she never forgets the services they rendered before they became incompatible with her progress. 3

2) Science is the sole means of true knowledge; therefore the old notion of God should be replaced by Humanity, the Supreme Natural Being.

He argued:

When we have thoroughly established as a logical thesis that all our knowledge must be founded upon observation, that we must proceed sometimes from facts to principles, at other times from principles to facts, and some other similar aphorisms, we still know the method far less clearly than he who, even without any philosophical purpose in view, has studied at all completely a single positive science…

…it would nevertheless be only through the study of regular applications of scientific methods that we could succeed in forming a good system of intellectual habits; this is, however, the essential object to be gained by studying method. 4

He taught that only through observation could not come to know the invariable laws of nature that replaced the former search for ultimate purposes and causes:

We have seen that the fundamental character of the positive philosophy is to consider all phenomena as subject to invariable natural laws. The exact discovery of these laws and their reduction to the least possible number, constitute the goal of all our efforts for we regard the search after what are called cause, whether first or final, as absolutely inaccessible and unmeaning. 5

Because the old concept of a supernatural God was not observable by the principles of science, Comte argued that the old notion of God should be substituted by the notion of Humanity, the Supreme natural being:

And by virtue of this complexity, Humanity possesses the attributes of vitality in a higher degree than any other organization… Like other vital organisms, it submits to mathematical astronomical, physical, chemical, and biological conditions; and in addition to these, is subject to special laws of Sociology with which lower organisms are not concerned.

But as a further result of its higher complexity it reacts upon the world more powerfully; and is indeed in a true sense its chief, Scientifically defined, then, it is truly the Supreme Being: the Being who manifests to the fullest extent all the highest attributes of life…

…It must not however, be supposed that the new Supreme Being is, like the old, merely a subjective result of our powers of abstraction. Its existence is revealed to us, on the contrary, by close investigation of objective fact. 6

3) Religious convictions are the result of an immature and untrained mind. Those trained in science would see no need for turning to supernatural explanations:

Supernatural explanations were accepted simply from the lack of scientific knowledge, and while they satisfied a real want, no one thought of rejecting them. The fact is that untrained minds are more anxious than men of learning to substitute, as far as possible, fixed laws for arbitrary Wills; not merely from pleasure taken in contemplating them, but for the practical reason that, by permitting prevision, they facilitate action. 7

As with the society, so with the individual. When the individual reaches the maturity level of a scientific society, science replaces superstition:

The starting point being necessarily the same in the education of the individual as in that of the race…a theologian in childhood, a metaphysician in youth, and a natural philosopher in manhood? This verification of the law can easily be made by all who are on a level with their era. 8

4) Abandoning our belief in the supernatural, we should concentrate our feelings, thoughts and actions on Humanity, the final substitute for God.

All things, including men are subject to the laws of nature; therefore we must rely on science as our only means of survival. With science as the only road to knowledge, and Humanity as the supreme being, science focused on society takes on a religious role; one that places ultimate faith in man’s ability to discover and utilize the invariable laws of nature for the good of Humanity:

In that outpouring of my heart the religious side of Positivism found its fundamental expression…by concentrating our feelings, our Thoughts, and our Actions around Humanity, the final substitute for God. 9

The study of Humanity therefore, directly or indirectly, is for the future the permanent aim of Science; and Science is now in a true sense consecrated, as the source from which the universal religion receives its principles. It reveals to us not merely the nature and conditions of the Great Being, but also its destiny and the successive phases of its growth. 10

With such a mission, Science acquires a position of unparalleled importance, as the sole means through which we come to know the nature and conditions of this great Being, the worship of whom should be the distinctive feature of our whole life. 11

5) Non-scientific churches are intolerant and feed upon the immaturity of people.  The religion of Humanity, because of its scientific basis, is the only true religion. It is the only tolerant and progressive religion because it understands the evolution of society’s previous immature stages:

Thus Positivism becomes, in the true sense of the word, a Religion; the only religion which is real and complete, destined therefore to replace all imperfect and provisional systems resting on the primitive basis of theology. 12

The Positivist, though he too is bound to press his own creed, is the only religionist who can respect all other creeds, either on the ground that they converge towards his own, or that his theory of human nature prevents him from exaggerating the influence of convictions upon conduct. 13

Comte ordained himself the “High Priest” of the Religion of Humanity and patterned his religion after the Catholic Church. He even designed a calendar to encourage the worship of the scientific heroes of man’s history (similar to the one venerating the saints). The priesthood, of course was to consist of scientific philosophers, “Thus the philosophers of the future become priests of Humanity, and their moral and intellectual influence will be far wider and more deeply rooted than that of any former priesthood.” 14  Later Huxley was to call it, “Catholicism minus Christianity,” but the hope he placed on science as the only rational manner for man to progress has found wide support.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) & Friedrich Engels (1820-1895):

There can be no doubt that one of the most influential writers of the 19th Century was Karl Marx. In collaboration with Friedrich Engels, he published one of the most influential political documents ever written– The Manifesto of the Communist Party. Of the arguments of Korihor, communists stress the oppressiveness of religion.

1) Religious doctrines are the cunning economic inventions of the ruling class. Marx and Engels viewed religion as an ingenious tool of the ruling class (bourgeoisie) to keep the worker (proletariat) from recognizing his plight and overthrowing his oppressors. For them our ancestors were not so unenlightened, as they were hungry for power; religion was not so much foolish tradition as it was a clever economic invention. If the worker could be lulled into complacency through religion, then the ruling class need not fear a revolution:

…all man’s juristic, political, philosophical, religious and other ideas are derived in the last resort from his economic conditions of life, from his mode of production and of exchanging the product…. 15

From that time, the bourgeoisie was a humble, but still a recognized component of the ruling classes of England…. He was himself religious; his religion had supplied the standard under which he had fought the king and the lords; he was not long in discovering the opportunities this same religion offered him for working upon the minds of his natural inferiors, and making them submissive to the behests of the masters it had pleased God to place over them, In short, the English bourgeoisie now had to take a part in keeping down the “lower orders,” the great producing mass of the nation, and one of means employed for that purpose was the influence of religion. 16

2) Only the natural (the material) is knowable and real; therefore nothing can be known of God: Marx adopted the term “materialism” to contradict the terms “idealism” and “supernaturalism.”

…Since only what is material is perceptible, knowable, nothing is known of the existence of God. Every human passion is a mechanical motion ending or beginning. The objects of impulses are what is called good. Man is subject to the same laws as nature; might and freedom are identical.

…For materialists, at least, deism is no more than a convenient and easy way of getting rid of religion. 17

Lashing out at scientists who were so thoroughly atheistic in their practice, but refusing to admit it in theory, Engels even condemned agnosticism. He called agnostics cowards for failing to admit the testimony of the own lives:

What indeed, is agnosticism but, to use an expressive Lancashire term, “shamefaced” materialism? The agnostic’s conception of nature is materialistic throughout. The entire natural world is governed by law, and absolutely excludes the intervention of action from without. But, he adds, we have no means either of ascertaining or of disproving the existence of some Supreme Being beyond the known universe… But nowadays in our evolutionary conception of the universe, there is absolutely no room for either a Creator or a Ruler; and to talk of a Supreme Being shut out from the whole existing world, implies a contradiction in terms, and, as it seems to me, a gratuitous insult to the feelings of religious people…

Thus, as far as he is a scientific man, as far as he knows anything, he is a materialist; outside his science, in spheres about which he knows nothing, he translates his ignorance into Greek and calls it agnosticism. 18

3) Religious convictions are the fantastic reflections of a fearful mind.

All religion however, is nothing but the fantastic reflection in men’s minds of those external forces which control their daily life, a reflection in which the terrestrial forces assume the form of supernatural forces, 19

Man, who looked for a superman in the fantastic reality of heaven and found nothing there but the reflection of himself, will no longer be disposed to find but the semblance of himself, the non-human (Unmensch) where he seeks and must seek his true reality,

The basis of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man, In other words, religion is self-consciousness and self-feeling of man who has either not found himself or has already lost himself again…The struggle against religion is therefore mediately the fight against the other world, of which religion is the spiritual aroma. 20

4) When the worker realizes that there is no other world than this, he will realize that if he is ever to be free, he must forcibly free himself.

The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the highest essence for man, hence with the categoric imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, abandoned, despicable essence… 21

The task of history, therefore, once the world beyond the truth has disappeared, is to establish the truth of this world, The immediate task of philosophy, which is at the service of history, once the saintly form of human self-alienation has been unmasked, is to unmask self-alienation in its unholy forms. Thus criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of the earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of rights, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics. 22

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things…

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions, Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains, They have a world to win,

Workingmen of all countries, unite! 23

5) Religions are like an opiate, lulling people into ignoring the injustices of this life, in hopes of heavenly justice and reward. Marx claimed that religion was both a drug for the oppressed as well as an expression of their oppression.  He claimed that violently changing the economic conditions that fostered religious illusions would be the only cure to the problem:

Religions distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation, It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions,,.,

,..Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves round man as long as he does not revolve round himself. 24

Society upholds religions, especially the Christian religion, because religions institutionalize the ruling class and teach the oppressed the qualities of passive submission:

The social principles of Christianity preach the necessity of a ruling and an oppressed class and all they have for the latter is the pious wish the former will be charitable…

The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, dejection, in a word, all the qualities of the canaille; and the proletariat, not wishing to be treated as canaille, needs its courage, its self-feeling, its pride and its sense of independence more than its bread. 25

Friedrich Nietzsche: (l844-1900)

One of the most flagrant and saddest of the modern anti-christs was Friedrich Nietzsche. Though he was a sickly man and wasn’t highly read during his lifetime, he was obsessed with the desire for power. His writings were filled with malice, spite, and cynicism, as well as remarkable insight into human nature. He focused against Christian morality, which he saw advocating weakness, humility, and submissiveness, in short, a morality that might be conducive to a herd animal, but repulsive to the “free spirit.” He advocated a complete revaluation of society, inverting weak values and replacing them with values that allow the individual free spirit to assert its own morality. At the age of 44, Nietzsche suffered a complete mental breakdown, from which he never recovered,

Wright, in the introduction to the “Modern Library’s volume on the works of Nietzsche wrote:

No philosopher since Kant has left so undeniable an imprint on modern thought as has Friedrich Nietzsche… Not only in ethics and literature do we find the molding hand of Nietzsche at work invigorating and solidifying, but in pedagogics and in art, in politics and religion, the influence of his doctrines is to be encountered. 26

1) Religious doctrines are the moralities of the herd animal, the free spirit makes his own morality.

Every morality is a piece of tyranny against ‘nature’, likewise against ‘reason’…

…Because they address themselves to ‘all’, because they generalize where generalization is impermissible– speaking unconditionally one and all, taking themselves for unconditional… prudence, prudence, prudence, mingled with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity… 27

To allure many from the herd–for that purpose have I come. The people and the herd must be angry with me… 28

Every superior human being will instinctively aspire after a secret citadel where he is set free from the crowd, the man, the majority… 29

‘My judgment is my judgment: another cannot easily acquire a right to it’—such a philosopher of the future may perhaps say. One has to get rid of the bad taste of wanting to be in agreement with many. ‘Good’ is no longer good when your neighbor takes it into his mouth. And how could there exist a ‘common good’! The expression is a self-contradiction… 30

Nietzsche was especially critical of Christian morality. He saw the Christian as the worst offender, a “sublime abortion” of life:

…for does it not seem that one will has dominated Europe for eighteen centuries, the will to make of man a sublime abortion? …Christianity has been the most fatal kind of self-presumption ever…until at last a shrunken almost ludicrous species, a herd animal something full of good will, sickly and mediocre has been bred, the European of today… 31

…Christianity on the recognition only of moral values has always appeared to me as the most dangerous and ominous of all possible forms of “will to perish”; at the very least, as the symptom of a most fatal disease, of the profoundest weariness, faint-heartedness, exhaustion, anemia– for judged by morality (especially Christian, that is, absolute morality) life must constantly and inevitably be the loser, because life is something essentially unmoral, –indeed, bowed down under the weight of contempt and the everlasting No, life must finally be felt as unworthy of desire, as in itself unworthy…It was against morality, therefore, that my instinct, an instinct defending life, one purely artistic and anti-Christian. What should I call it? As a philologist and man of words I baptized it, not without some impertinence, –for who could be sure of the proper name of the Antichrist? –with the name of a Greek god: I called it Dionysian. 32

2) “All creditability, good conscience, all evidence of truth comes only from the senses.” 33 He argued that life should be governed by the passions:

Granted that nothing is ‘given’ as real except our world of desires and passions, that we can rise or sink to no other ‘reality’ than the reality of our drives… 34

Since God and other religious ideas were based on abstractions and not on reality, Nietzsche saw his atheism as an instinct and belief in God as a commandment against reason:

Why do I know more than other people? Why, in general, am I so clever? I have never pondered over questions that are not really questions. I have never wasted my strength. I have no experience, for instance, of actual religious difficulties I am quite unfamiliar with the feeling of “sinfulness.” Similarly I lack a reliable criterion for determining a prick of conscience: from what one hears, a prick of conscience does not seem to me anything very worthy of veneration… “God”, “the immortality of the soul,” “salvation,” “a beyond” —these are mere notions, to which I paid no attention, on which I never wasted any time, even as a child—though perhaps I was never enough of a child for that– I am quite unacquainted with atheism as a result, and still less as an event: with me it is instinctive. I am too inquisitive, too skeptical, too arrogant, to let myself be satisfied with an obvious and crass solution of things, God is such an obvious and crass solution; a solution which is a sheer indelicacy to us thinkers– at bottom He is really nothing but a coarse commandment against us: ye shall not think! …I am much more interested in another question on which the “salvation of humanity” depends much more than upon any piece of theological curiosity: the question of nutrition. 35

3) Religious convictions are the evil instincts of a diseased soul:

All the things men have valued with such earnestness heretofore are not even realities; they are mere fantasies, or, more strictly speaking, lies arising from the evil instincts of diseased and, in the deepest sense, harmful natures the concepts, “God,” “soul,” “virtue,” “sin,” “Beyond,” “truth,” “eternal life.” …All the questions of politics, of the social order, of education, have been falsified from top to bottom, because the most harmful men have been taken for great men, and because people were taught to despise the ‘details,’ more properly, the fundamentals of life… 36

He taught that society’s values are just opposite from what they should be. That which society had taught, because of Christianity, as evil was really good:

“Man is evil”—so said to me for consolation, all the wisest ones. Ah, if only it be still true today! For evil is man’s best force.

“Man must become better and eviler”—so do I teach. The evilest is necessary for the Superman’s best. 37

The great epochs of our life are the occasions when we gain the courage to rebaptize our evil qualities as our best qualities. 38

From this position, he taught that ‘sin’ came from society’s sickness:

“Sin”– for that is the name of the new priestly version of the animal “bad-conscience” (the inverted cruelty)– has up to the present been the greatest event in the history of the diseased soul; in “sin” we find the most perilous and fatal masterpiece of religious interpretation. Imagine man, suffering from himself, some way or other but at any rate physiologically. 39

…methinks ye would call my Superman the devil! So strange are ye in your souls to all that is great, that the Superman would be terrible in your eyes for his goodness, 40

4) For the free spirit, God is dead; he creates his own morality. According to Nietzsche, the superior man makes his own standards. He realizes that even the notion of a God has died for him and that only after this notion dies can the “superman” live:

When he was young, that God out of the Orient, then was he harsh and revengeful, and built himself a hell for the delight of his favorites.

At last, however, he became old and soft and mellow and pitiful, more like a grandfather than a father, but most like a tottering old grandmother.

There did he sit shriveled in his chimney-corner, fretting on account of his weak legs, world-weary, will-weary, and one day he suffocated of his all-too-great pity.”–…

“There is also good taste in piety: this at last said: ‘Away with such a God! Better to have no God, better to set up destiny on one’s own account, better to be a fool, better to be God oneself.’”…

Is it not thy piety itself which no longer letteth thee believe in a God? And thine over-great honesty will yet lead thee even beyond good and evil! 41

Like Korihor, Nietzsche saw that without accountability to God, man is left to define his own morals.

The God who beheld everything, and also man: that God had to die! Man cannot endure it that such a witness should live. 42

Before God!–Now however this God hath died! Ye higher men, this God was your greatest danger…now only doth the higher man become—master!…

Well take heart! Ye higher men! Now only travaileth the mountain of the human future. God hath died: now do we desire – the Superman to live. 43

He openly criticized most of the existing morals that society previously held sacred, especially those called “Christian:”

“Thou shalt not rob! Thou shalt not slay! “ –such precepts were once called holy; before them did one bow the knee and the head and take off one’s shoes.

But I ask you: Where have there ever been better robbers and slayers in the world than such holy precepts?

Is there not even in all life—robbing and slaying? And for such precepts to be called holy, was not truth itself thereby slain?

–Or was it a sermon of death that called holy what contradicted and dissuaged from?—O my brethren, break up for me the old tables! 44

…And in order to leave no doubt as to my opinion, which in this matter is honest as it is severe, I will tell you one more clause out of my moral code against vice—with the word ‘vice’ I combat every kind of unnatural practice, or, if you prefer fine words, idealism. The clause reads: “The preaching of chastity is a public incitement to unnatural practices. Every deprecation of sexual life, every sullying of it with the concept ‘impure’, is the essential crime against life—is the essential sin against life’s Holy Ghost. 45

And, of course, for Nietzsche and for anyone else who “hath his conscience in his head,” submission to God would be unthinkable:

It is however a shame to pray! Not for all, but for thee, and me, and whoever hath his conscience in his head. For thee it is shame to pray!

Thou knowest it well: the faint-hearted devil in thee, which would fain fold its arms, and place its hands in its bosom, and take it easier: –this faint devil persuadeth thee that “there is a God!” 46

He who cannot command himself shall obey. 47

5) Christian “believers” are the saddest prisoners of all; they suffer from oppression of the herd mentality.

But I suffer and have suffered with them: prisoners are they unto me and stigmatized ones. He whom they call Saviour put them in fetters:

In fetters of false values and fatuous words! Oh, that someone would save them from their Saviour! 48

The Christian faith is from the beginning sacrifice: sacrifice of all freedom, all pride, all self-confidence of the spirit, at the same time enslavement and self-mockery, self –mutilation… 49

My life-task is to prepare for humanity a moment when it will emerge from the tyranny of accident and the priesthood, and for the first time pose the question of the Why and Wherefore of humanity as a whole…But what the priest wants is precisely the degeneration of the whole of mankind; hence he preserves the decayed elements—this is the price of his rule over humanity. What meaning have those lies, those ancillary concepts of morality, “Soul,” “Spirit,” “Free Will,” “God,” if their aim be not that of the physiological ruin of mankind? 50

I am the anti-ass par excellence, and on this account alone a monster in the world’s history—in Greek, and not only in Greek, I am the Antichrist. 51

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psycho-analysis, was one of the most important contributors to modern psychology. Trained as a physician, he built a reputation for treating nervous diseases. The works of Charles Darwin had placed man in the animal kingdom, but it took Freud to develop a theory of man that looked at behavior as the result of instincts and drives, as well as reason. He saw man as driven by unconscious motives and drives which constantly conflicted with the cultural traditions, For Freud, there was no absolute “Good;” moral values were completely determined by the norms of a given society.

In his book, The Future of an Illusion, he follows, with amazing precision, the arguments of Korihor though he elaborates most on what Korihor called the “frenzied mind.”

1) Religious doctrines are the shared neurotic illusions of a culture. Faced with helplessness against nature, Freud believed that the insecure individual adopts the religious illusions of his culture.

I have tried to show that religious ideas have arisen from the same need as have all the other achievements of civilizations: from the necessity of defending oneself against the crushingly superior force of nature. To this a second motive was added urge to rectify the shortcomings of civilization which made themselves painfully felt. 52

And it tallies well with this that devout believers are safeguarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of constructing a personal one. 53

Like Korihor, he was especially critical of religious ideas because they have been handed down by ancestors far less scientifically advanced than we:

Let us try to apply the same test to the teachings of religion. When we ask on what their claim to be believed is founded, we are met with three answers, which harmonize remarkably badly with one another. Firstly, these teachings deserve to be believed because they were already believed by our primal ancestors; secondly; we possess proofs which have been, handed down to us from those same primeval times; and thirdly, it is forbidden to raise the question of their authentication at all…This third point is bound to rouse our strongest suspicions. After all, a prohibition like this can only be for one reason– that society is very well aware of the insecurity of the claim… we pass on to an examination of the other two grounds of proof. We ought to believe because our forefathers believed. But these ancestors of ours were far more ignorant than we are. They believed in things we could not possibly accept today; and the possibility occurs to us that the doctrines of religion may belong to that class too. The proofs they have left us are set down in writings which themselves bear every mark of untrustworthiness. They are full of contradictions, revisions and falsifications, and where they speak of factual confirmations they are themselves unconfirmed… and no proposition can be proof of itself…

And let no one suppose that what I have said about the impossibility of proving the truth of religious doctrines contains anything new. It has been felt, at all times— undoubtedly, too, by the ancestors who bequeathed us this legacy. Many of them probably nourished the same doubts as ours, but the pressure imposed on them was too strong for them to have dared to utter them. 54

2) Science is the only road to true knowledge. So-called religious feelings cannot be accepted as legitimate evidence because they are created by strong wishing. Freud taught that those things that could not be proven by science were mere illusions:

Having thus taken our bearings, let us return once more to the question of religious doctrines. We can now repeat that all of them are illusions and insusceptible of proof… Of the reality value of most of them we cannot judge; just as they cannot be proved, so they cannot be refuted… But scientific work is the only road which can lead us to a knowledge of reality outside ourselves. It is once again merely an illusion to expect anything from intuition and introspection; they can give us nothing but particulars about our own mental life, which are hard to interpret, never any information about the questions which religious doctrine finds it so easy to answer… 55

There is no appeal to a court above that of reason. If the truth of religious doctrines is dependent on an inner experience which bears witness to that truth, what is one to do about the many people who do not have this rare experience? 56

3) Religious convictions are the hopeful illusions of a neurotic mind. Freud claimed that religious convictions were the result of a neurosis begun as a child and never out-grown:

Religion would thus be the universal obsessional neurosis of humanity; like the obsessional neurosis of children, it arose out of the Oedipus complex, out of the relation to the father. If this view is right, it is to be supposed that a turning-away from religion is bound to occur with the fatal inevitability of a process of growth. 57

So that, as was to be expected, the motives for the formation of religion which psycho—analysis revealed now turn out to be the same as the infantile contribution to the manifest motives. Let us transport ourselves into the mental life of a child,,,, The libido there follows the paths of narcissistic needs and attaches itself to the objects which ensure the satisfaction of those needs, In this way the mother, who satisfies the child’s hunger, becomes its first love—object and certainly also its first protection against all the undefined dangers which threaten it in the external world– its first protection against anxiety, we may say.

In this function (of protection) the mother is soon replaced by the stronger father, who retains that position for the rest of childhood. But the child’s attitude to its father is colored by a peculiar ambivalence. The father himself constitutes a danger for the child, perhaps because of its earlier relation to its mother. Thus it fears him no less than it longs for him and admires him,,,, When the growing individual finds that he is destined to remain a child for ever, that he can never do without protection against strange superior powers, he lends those powers the features belonging to the figure of his father; he creates for himself the gods whom he dreads. 58

4) Without the illusion of God—individuals will learn to rely strictly upon their own resources.

It will, be found if we turn our attention to the psychical origin of religious ideas. These, which are given out as teachings, are not precipitates of experience or end-results of thinking; they are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. The secret of their strength lies in the strength of those wishes. 59

Freud taught that those not brought up believing in such illusions will realize that they are on their own in the world, but they are entirely left on their own, science can provide them with real answers:

They will, it is true, find themselves in a difficult situation. They will, have to admit to themselves the full extent of their helplessness and their insignificance in the machinery no longer the object of tender care on the part of a beneficient Providence. They will, be in the same position as a child who has left the parental house where he was so warm and comfortable. But surely infantilism is destined to be surmounted. Men cannot remain children forever; they must in the end go out into ‘hostile life’. We may call this ‘education to reality’. Need I confess to you that the sole purpose of my book is to point out the necessity for this forward step?

You are afraid, probably, that they will not stand up to the hard test? Well, let us at least hope they will. It is something, at any rate, to know that one is thrown upon one’s own resources. One learns then to make a proper use of them. And men are not entirely without assistance. Their scientific knowledge has taught them much since the days of the Deluge, and it will increase their power still further… By withdrawing their expectations from the other world and concentrating all their liberated energies into their life on earth, they will probably succeed in achieving a state of things in which life will become tolerable for everyone and civilization no longer oppressive to anyone… 60

5) Like a sleeping potion, religion acts to bind the mind from free intellectual growth and society from flexible progress. Like deforming the heads of children by binding them, Freud asked whether religious education wasn’t also binding individuals’ minds:

Can an anthropologist give the cranial index of a people whose custom it is to deform their children’s heads by bandaging them round from their earliest years? Think of the depressing contrast between the radiant intelligence of a healthy child and the feeble intellectual powers of the average adult. Can we be quite certain that it is not precisely religious education which bears a large share of the blame for this relative atrophy? 61

He taught that if children were “sensibly” brought up, they would not need to deaden their minds with religious illusions:

It is certainly senseless to begin by trying to do away with religion by force and at a single blow… A man who has been taking sleeping draughts for tens of years is naturally unable to sleep if his sleeping draught is taken away from him. That the effect of religious consolations may be likened to that of a narcotic is well illustrated by what is happening…

Thus I must contradict you when you go on to argue that men are completely unable to do without the consolation of the religious illusion, that without it they could not bear the troubles of life and the cruelties of reality. That is true, certainly, of the men into whom you have instilled the sweet or bitter-sweet poison from childhood onwards, but what of the other men, who have been sensibly brought up? Perhaps those who do not suffer from the neurosis will need no intoxicant to deaden it. 62

John Dewey: (1859-1952)

Perhaps the most influential American philosopher has been John Dewey. He developed an extensive, experimentally-based philosophy by building upon the work of other pragmatists. He then translated this philosophy into an attractive educational philosophy. Nearly an entire generation of American educators were trained by his ideas.

Democracy and Education avoided any direct discussion of religion, but in another book, A Common Faith, Dewey suggests that religious attitude and experience have nothing to do with a religion. He also felt that godlike ideals have nothing to do with an external supernatural being. He, therefore, advocated that the notion of the religious should be separated from religion and the notion of good should be separated from the notion of God. When this is done, he claimed that every dimension of life, especially scientific research, could take on a religious aspect.

1) Religious doctrines are the inflexible dogmas of an outmoded institution. Dewey taught that because of their rigid beliefs in God and other “dogmatic doctrines,” historic religions can’t meet the changing needs of today’s changing society:

I gladly admit that historic religions have been relative to the conditions of social culture in which peoples lived. Indeed, what I am concerned with is to press home the logic of this method of disposal of outgrown traits of past religions. Beliefs and practices in a religion that now prevails are by this logic relative to the present state of culture. If so much flexibility has obtained in the past regarding an unseen power, the way it affects human destiny, and the attitudes we are to take toward it, why should it be assumed that change in conception and action has now come to an end? The logic involved in getting rid of inconvenient aspects of past religions compels us to inquire how much in religions now accepted are survivals from outgrown cultures. 63

A case could be made out for the position that the churches have lagged behind in most important social movements and that they have turned their chief attention in social affairs to moral symptoms, to vices and abuses, like drunkenness, sale of intoxicants, divorce, rather than to the causes of war and of the long list of economic and political injustices and oppressions. Protest against the latter has been left to secular movements. 64

2) Patient, cooperative scientific inquiry is the only sure road to facts, truth, and progress.

The significant bearing for my purpose of all this is that new methods of inquiry and reflection have become for the educated man today the final arbiter of all questions of fact, existence, and intellectual assent… There is but one sure road of access to truth—the road of patient, cooperative inquiry operating by means of observation, experiment, record and controlled reflection. 65

Faith in the continued disclosing of truth through directed cooperative human endeavor is more religious in quality than is any faith in a completed revelation… 66

He taught that when one develops a scientific attitude, the supernatural becomes irrelevant:

When the vital factors in this natural process are generally acknowledge in emotion, thought and action, the process will be both accelerated and purified through elimination of that irrelevant element that culminates in the idea of the supernatural. 67

Even agnosticism is only part of the way to making science religious:

“Agnosticism” is a shadow cast by the eclipse of the supernatural. Of course, acknowledgement that we do not know what we do not know is a necessity of all intellectual integrity. But generalized agnosticism is only a halfway elimination of the supernatural. Its meaning departs when the intellectual outlook is directed wholly to the natural world… But such doubts are an incident of faith in the method of intelligence. They are signs of faith, not of a pale and impotent skepticism. We doubt in order that we may find out, not because some inaccessible supernatural lurks behind whatever we can know. 68

For scientific method is adverse not only to dogma but to doctrine as well…This negative attitude of science to doctrine does not indicate indifference to truth. It signifies supreme loyalty to the method by which truth is attained. 69

3) Religious convictions are the misinterpretations of real experience by an insecure mind. Agreeing with Lucretius of Greece, Dewey believed that the concept of God came from fear:

Primitive man was so impotent in the face of these forces that, especially in an unfavorable natural environment, fear became a dominant attitude and, as the old saying goes, fear created the gods. 70

Dewey did not deny the authenticity of religious experience, but taught that people misinterpret it because of the culture in which they are raised:

…the religionists rely upon a certain kind of experience to prove the existence of the object of religion, especially the supreme object, God…[the text continues with a record of a man’s claim to have found God, through a religious experience.]

…I do not doubt its authenticity nor that of the experience related. It illustrates a religious aspect of experience. But it illustrates also the use of that quality to carry a super-imposed load of a particular religion. For having been brought up in the Christian religion, its subject interprets it in the terms of the personal God characteristic of that religion…

In reality, the only thing that can be said to be ‘proved’ is the existence of some complex of conditions that have operated to effect an adjustment in life, an orientation, that brings with it a sense of security and peace. The particular interpretation given to this complex of conditions is not inherent in the experience itself. It is derived from the culture with which a particular person has been imbued. 71

4) Progress does not come by faith in a supernatural being, but by cooperative scientific inquiry. If the social conditions are to be improved at all, it will be due to man’s efforts, not because of divine intervention:

We do not know the relation of causes to results in social matters, and consequently we lack means of control. Therefore, it is inferred, we must resort to supernatural control. Of course, I make no claim to knowing how far intelligence may and will develop in respect to social relations. But one thing I think I do know. The needed understanding will not develop unless we strive for it. The assumption that only supernatural agencies can give control is a sure method of retarding this effort. It is as sure to be a hindering force now with respect to social intelligence, as the similar appeal was earlier an obstruction in the development of physical knowledge. 72

From this position, prayer is only a hindrance to true progress:

Belief in a sudden and complete transmutation through conversion and in the objective efficacy of prayer is too easy a way out of difficulties. It leaves matters in general just about as they were before; that is, sufficiently bad so that there is additional support for the idea that only supernatural aid can better them. The position of natural intelligence is that there exists a mixture of good and evil, and that reconstruction in the direction of the good which is indicated by ideal ends, must take place, if at all, through continued cooperative effort. 73

For Dewey, the only notion of “god” that makes sense is where ideal beliefs are made concrete social realities:

It is this active relation between ideal and actual to which I would give the name “God.” I would not insist that the name be given. There are those who hold that the associations of the term with the supernatural are so numerous and close that any use of the word “God” is sure to give rise to misconception and be taken as a concession to traditional ideas. 74

5) Churches sap the genuinely religious and hinder social progress. Because they hold on to the old concept of a supernatural, churches divert energy that could really assist man:

All religions…have literatures held especially sacred, containing historical material with which the validity of the religions is connected. They have developed a doctrinal apparatus it is incumbent upon “believers” (with varying degrees of strictness in different religions) to accept. They also insist that there is some special and isolated channel of access to the truths they hold.

No one will deny, I suppose, that the present crisis in religion is intimately bound up with these claims… It is enough to point out that all the beliefs and ideas in question, whether having to do with historical and literary matters, or with astronomy, geology and biology, or with the creation and structure of the world and man, are connected with the supernatural, and that this connection is the factor that has brought doubt upon them; the factor that from the standpoint of historic and institutional religions is sapping the religious life itself. 75

It is probably impossible to imagine the amount of intellectual energy that has been diverted from normal processes of arriving at intellectual conclusions because it has gone into rationalization of the doctrines entertained by historic religions. 76

Humanist Manifesto I (1933) & II (1973):

In 1933, a group of 34 authors, philosophers, educators, and Unitarian ministers, including such people as John Dewey, E. A. Burrt, John Herman Randall, Jr., Roy Wood Sellars, and Edwin H. Wilson, signed their names to a short document they called, “The Humanist Manifesto.” It formed a religious statement which rejected traditional theistic religion as outmoded and which looked optimistically to science for hope in human progress.

Forty years later (1973), it was felt that the earlier document was not strong enough, so “Humanist Manifesto II” was drafted. It was signed by 11 of the original signers and some 264 other prominent scholars and leaders, including Albert Ellis, Herbert Feigl, Maxine Greene, Sidney Hook, Corliss Lamont, B.F. Skinner, Sir Alfred Ayer, and Sir Julian Huxley. It addressed, not only the problems of traditional religion and morality, but also such diverse contemporary topics as: civil liberties, equality, democracy, population control, war, world government, abortion, sexual preference, and other social issues.

1) Religious doctrines are outmoded and cannot meet today’s needs. In order to be progressive, society should turn to a science that is tempered by a concern for mankind:

Traditional moral codes and newer irrational cults both fail, to meet the pressing needs of today and tomorrow. False “theologies of hope” and messianic ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world realities. They separate rather than unite peoples.

Humanity, to survive, requires bold and. daring measures. We need to extend the uses of scientific method, not renounce them, to fuse reason with compassion in order to build constructive social and moral values, 77

So stand the theses of religious humanism. Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will to the task. 78

2) All claims should be able to pass the tests of science—belief in God does not pass the test. Belief in God is either meaningless or irrelevant to man’s important issues:

Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so. Even at this late date in human history certain elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason have to be restated. We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfillment of the human race. As non-theists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural. 79

According to Manifesto II, this criticism would also apply to the belief in the soul or spirit of man as well as immortality.

Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the “ghost in the machine” and the “separable soul.” Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context. There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body. We continue to exist in our progeny and in the way that our lives have influenced others in our culture. 80

3) Religious convictions are the harmful illusions of an unreasonable mind. Because they are illusions, they distract people from rectifying the problems of this world:

Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful, They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices. 81

The Manifesto is especially critical of religious beliefs in a God who hears and answers prayers. For them, reasonable minds would not rely on such illusions:

As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved, and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival. 82

4) “No deity will save us, we must save ourselves.” With no room for a belief in God or an eternal purpose for man, they see man as nothing more than “a biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context.” If we survive it will, therefore be because of our own efforts and not divine intervention:

But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves. 83

Values, therefore, from this position must be relative to the specific needs of a particular situation.

We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction, Ethics stems from human need and interest. 84

In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered “evil.” 85

…individual’s right to die with dignity. Euthanasia, and the right to suicide… 86

…minimum guaranteed annual income.

We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds… thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government…

It is the moral obligation of the developed nations to provide—through an international authority that safeguards human rights– massive technical, agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control techniques… 87

 5) Traditional religions do a disservice to the human species by holding them back. Because they fill the human mind with “hopes of heaven” religions divert positive social action:

We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species…

Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage. More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of relevance appearing in the wake of the “God is Dead” theologies. 88

In place of traditional religions, the Humanist Manifesto claims to offer a positive approach to human progress:

But views that merely reject theism are not equivalent to humanism… Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation.

We affirm a set of common principles that can serve as a basis for united action– positive principles relevant to the present human condition. They are a design for a secular society on a planetary scale. 89

Conclusion:

What dare we conclude from this comparison? There can be little doubt that the arguments across these varied thinkers are remarkably similar with regard to religion. It should also be noted that these arguments could have been replicated in the writings of dozens of the founders of modern social science not included in this paper—Wundt, Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike, Durkheim, Russell, etc. At the same time, however, these arguments were not so commonly professed by major philosophers in any previous century. Few today feel compelled to openly defend or critique these issues, but it is not clear whether it is because our paradigm has shifted regarding these matters or whether the arguments have been so widely adopted in practice that they have been merely sublimated, that our epistemological assumptions merely assume the irrelevance of God without further discussion. From this position, religious ideas, particularly “faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them,” 90 would be privatized and silenced in modern scientific discussions. They could even be the subject of scientific methodology, but not allowed fundamental relevance.

There are still many additional questions not answered, or even explored, in this paper.  Some of these include:

Should we brand as evil any attempt to apply a scientific analysis to society just because it is rooted in Comtes’ attempt to establish a “social physics?” Should we banish “Freud’s “unconscious” from our cultural considerations just because he tried to explain religious belief with it? Should we pretend that struggles of societies to maintain inequalities are not explained well by a Marxist analysis just because he observed how churches have so often been co-opted for political and economic purposes?

Should we presume that Nietzsche’s criticism of the European “Christian” morality of his day was totally misplaced? Dare we throw aside all of Dewey’s insights into an active education or democratic society just because he saw religion so often paralyzing people from taking an active part in needed social change? Should we pose a posture in opposition to humanism just because some use it to worship man? Does anyone actually claim to be anti-human?

The assumptions of any research paradigm are the issues taken for granted as true. They are so widely accepted that there is no felt need either to articulate or to defend them. It is only when the paradigm faces an unexplained anomaly that the assumptions are reexamined. But isn’t it possible that our cosmology always influences our theories at the most fundamental level? Does it really do anyone a favor if we pretend to lay aside our spiritual natures in order to play by the same rules as strictly secular scholars? Do we have any legitimate right to silence those who believe God is actively engaged in the growth and development of the human person just because the rules of the game have excluded the possibility of revelation? If, in their professional practice, Christian scholars act as if God were irrelevant to the issues of their discipline, why should anyone be offended by those who accept or articulate the assumption? Doesn’t quiet compliance to the accepted rules imply assent?

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Notes:

  1. Butler, J. Donald, Four Philosophies and their Practice in Education and Religion. Harper and Row, New York, 1968, p. 362-363.
  2. Comte, Auguste, Introduction to Positive Philosophy, Ferre, Frederick, editor and translator, Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing: Indianopolis, Indiana, 1970, p. 1-2.
  3. Ibid, p. 532-533.
  4. Ibid. p. 23.
  5. Ibid, p. 7-8.
  6. Beardsley, Munroe C., European Philosophers: From Descartes to Nietzsche, (from the chapter of Augste Comte—extracts from his works, p. 729-764), Modern Library: New York, 1960, p. 755.
  7. Comte, Auguste, System of Positive Polity. Burt Franklin: New York, (Originally London, 1877), vol. III, p. 364.
  8.  Comte, op. cit., Introduction to Positive Philosophy, p. 4
  9. Ibid. p. 530-531.
  10. Ibid, p. 757.
  11. Ibid, p. 754.
  12. Ibid. p. 753.
  13. Ibid. p. 388.
  14. Ibid. p. 754.
  15. Ibid, p. 272. (extract: Engels “Juristic Socialism” –1887),
  16. Ibid. p. 303,
  17. Ibid, p. 65, (extract from: MarX & Enaels, “The Holy Family or Critique of Critical. Criticism.” 1844).
  18. Ibid p. 297 (Engels, “Introduction to the Enqlish Edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific ,“ –1892).
  19.  Ibid, p. 50 (extract: Enge1s, Anti-Duhring,” –1878).
  20. Prepared by the Institute of Marxism—Leninism of the C.C., C.P Foreign Languages Publishing House: Moscow. 1955, p. 41-42. (citing- Marx, Karl “Contribution
  21. Ibid, p. 50.
  22. Prepared by the Institute of Marxism—Leninism of the C.C., C.P Foreign Languages Publishing House: Moscow. 1955, p. 41-42. (citing- Marx, Karl “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, 1944).
  23. Marx, Karl & Engels. Friedrich, The Manifesto of the Communist Party. Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc Chicago vol. 50, p. 434.
  24. K. Marx and F. Engels on Religion (Prepared by the Institute of Marxism—Leninism of the C.C., C.P Foreign Languages Publishing House: Moscow. 1955, p. 41-42. (citing- Marx, Karl “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, 1944).
  25. Ibid, p 83—84, (extract from: Marx, K “The Communism of the Paper Rheinischer Beobachter.” 1847).
  26. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Kaufrnann (edit,), Modern Library 1968,  p. vii.
  27. Nietzsche, Friedrich Beyond Good and Evil. R.J. Hollingdale, trs., London: Penguin Books, 1973, p. 92, 101.
  28. Ibid, p. 18.  (from: Thus Spake Zarathustra) Zarathustra is Nietzsche’s spokesman, a kind of earthly prophet who introduces Nietzsche’s ideal “Superman”.
  29. Beyond Good and Evil, p.39.
  30.  Ibid. p. 53.
  31. Ibid. p. 71.
  32. Nietzsche, Friedrich  The Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Kaufman, ed., New York: The Modern Library, 1968, Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”): An Autobiography. p. 942.
  33. Beyond Good and Evil, op. cit. p. 82.
  34. Ibid, p. 48.
  35. Kaufmann, Ecce Homo, op. cit., p.833-834.
  36. Ibid., p.852.
  37. Zarathustra, op. cit., p. 322.
  38. Beyond Good and Evil, op. cit. p. 79
  39. Nietzsche, Friedrich The Genealogy of Morals. The Basic Writings of Nietzsche, op. cit. p. 79
  40. Ecce Homo, op cit p. 928.
  41. Zarathustra, op cit pp. 291-292.
  42. Ibid. 297.
  43. Ibid p. 320.
  44. Ibid, p. 225.
  45. Ecce Homo, op cit p. 863.
  46. Zarathustra, op cit p. 200,
  47. Ibid p. 221.
  48. Ibid, p. 97.
  49. Beyond Good and Evil. op cit p. 57.
  50. Ecce Homo. Op cit. pp. 887-888.
  51. Ibid.,  p. 858.
  52. Freud, Sigmund The Future of an Illusion, James Strachey, trs., New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1961, p. 21.
  53.  Ibid p. 44.
  54. Ibid p. 25-27.
  55. Ibid p. 32.
  56. Ibid p. 28.
  57. Ibid p. 43.
  58. Ibid., p. 24.
  59. Ibid p. 30.
  60. Ibid pp. 49-50.
  61. Ibid p. 47.
  62. Ibid p. 49.
  63. Dewey, John A Common Faith, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, (1st edition 1934), 1976, p. 6.
  64. Ibid p. 69.
  65. Ibid pp. 31-32.
  66. Ibid p. 24.
  67. Ibid p. 50.
  68. Ibid p. 86.
  69. Ibid p. 39.
  70. Ibid p. 24.
  71. Ibid pp. 11-13.
  72. Ibid p. 76.
  73. Ibid p. 47.
  74. Ibid p. 51.
  75. Ibid pp. 29-30.
  76. Ibid p. 33.
  77. Humanist Manifesto I & II. New York: Prometheus Books, 1973, p. 14.
  78. Ibid p. 10.
  79. Ibid pp. 15-16.
  80. Ibid pp. 16-17.
  81. Ibid p. 16.
  82. Ibid p. 13.
  83. Ibid p. 16.
  84. Ibid p. 17.
  85. Ibid p. 18.
  86. Ibid p. 19.
  87. Ibid p. 20-23.
  88. Ibid pp. 15-16.
  89. Ibid p. 15.
  90. Ibid p. 13.

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1 Response

  1. walt spicer says:

    Very well researched. It appears that all the great athiest philosophers of the past and present teach the same athiest philophies as Korahor.

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