The issue of “mythical” world-views brings us to the anti-religious animus of some Enlightenment figures. In his famous attack on belief in miracles, Hume remarks: “It forms a strong presumption against all supernatural and miraculous relations, that they are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous nations.” For Hume, secularity was a gauge of civilisation: the more religious, the more barbarous. Race and religious commitment were dual markers of a primitive condition.
Voltaire was also motivated to stress racial difference in order to counter the powerful biblical story of a single creation of human beings in the image of God. Voltaire held a polygenetic view, according to which the different races did not share a common ancestry. Religion and racial inferiority together represented barriers to social progress and the march of civilisation.
This should prompt us to consider the respective roles of myth and science in offering a guide to life. It is instructive that icons of Enlightenment rationality were rarely at the forefront of movements for practical racial equality. In England, the campaign against slavery was not led by a posse of religiously sceptical philosophers, but by Quakers, Methodists, and Evangelicals. In more recent history, Christian churches that played a central role in the civil rights movement whose leaders were more likely to draw inspiration from the Old Testament prophets than from formal declarations of human rights. Abstract conceptions of human equality seemed less effective in motivating social change than religious convictions grounded in “myths.” Indeed, it is likely that, in historical terms, the former are parasitic on the latter.Is it fair to accuse Enlightenment greats of racism? by Peter Harrison
Actually, I am confident that an intense hostility to equality before the law — a strictly Biblical concept, as any Secularist (or Marxist, or Islamic) judge would joyfully proclaim as they grind it under their heels — was one of the driving forces of the Enlightenment.
The entire point of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, after all, was a return to the rule of Powerful Men, dominating a mighty Above-the-Law State, instead of ‘some babble of a king above the skies, who wealthy and powerful men can’t bring to heel.’
Roman Imperialism and Greek Statism? YES!
Biblical liberty and personal accountability? NEVER!
The elimination of those religiously-motivated challenges to the Authority of the Right Sort is a bonus, not a flaw.
Well, leave the rotting Enlightened dead to their graves, to their longing for the return of unfettered State Power.
“Just like in the good old days of Athens and Rome!”
“Where Powerful Men define reality, take what they please, kill whom they wish. Without any nonsense about some Higher Law and a Higher Judge to restrict their will.”
God’s people have a better future — a future actually tied to reality! — to secure.