French Revolution Epitomizes the
Contradictions of Scientism
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712—1778), along with Descartes, were major Enlightenment philosophers. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The major goal of Enlightenment thinkers was to give a foundation to philosophy that was independent of any particular tradition, culture, or religion: one that any rational person would accept.”
This the role of modern philosophy, understanding the world without God, and of scientism. Scientism, “…has been defined as “the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society.” Scientism, coupled with the renewed emphasis of evolution on social issues, Social Darwinism, gave rise to what became known as “19th century positivism”. This was the belief that man could understand all knowledge and attain spiritual, if atheistic, perfection through science alone. Science is briefly defined as that which is measurable and repeatable which limits it to the empirical (natural) world. However, both philosophy and scientism contain inherent contradictions.
Rousseau’s ideas were the fodder that fed the second phase of the French Revolution according to “History Today“. He, along with other philosophers described, “…human beings in the “state of nature. That is, they attempted to strip human beings of all those attributes that they took to be the results of social conventions. In doing so, they hoped to uncover certain characteristics of human nature that were universal and unchanging. If this could be done, one could then decide the most effective and legitimate forms of government (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy).” Scientism, which can only deal with the empirical, claims to be able to provide knowledge of that which lies beyond the five senses such as man’s nature. This is the basis for social sciences which at their core are really pseudo-sciences and form the basis for modern societies.
The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds…(Ps 14:1-3)” The French Revolution tried to institute the first scientific society, a society apart from God. The leaders placed a harlot in Notre Dame dressed as the “goddess of reason” and worshiped her while they acted without reason massacring thousands for their cause. The excesses of the French Revolution caused the suppression of scientism but the revival of Darwin’s philosophy as “social Darwinism” once again brought it to the forefront on popular thought. Leaders of Western nations and their peoples believed in the ability of man to “evolve” into a superior being based on finding the right knowledge. This lead to the 19th century positivism coupled with the dramatic changes in social life by the mechanical and electrical inventions of the time period. The Great War, WWI, crushed the idea of positivism because of the massive death tolls. World War II, misidentified as a continuation of WWI, was based on even greater scientific marvels that brought greater death not only to combatants but deliberately to non-combatants also. Yet, out of the ruins of WWI grew the first truly atheistic society, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, commonly simply called Communism.
The USSR murdered millions of its own citizens before dissolving in the late 20th century. WWII saw the growth of Communism in China which has also murdered millions of its own citizens and still is responsible for murder in its on-going organ transplant industry. Yet, citizens once again opted for positivism in the form of scientism with the advent of science fiction (scifi). This was popularized in the 1960s with the production of “Star Trek” which spawned a slew of scifi programs. In the early 21st century scifi programs began legitimizing paganism in the popular media. Marvels “Avengers” is nothing more than the amalgamation of both scientism (Captain America and Iron Man) with Gnosticism (Thor, Black Widow, Vision) with mankind (Black Widow and Hawkeye). Man is fusing science (natural and social) with Gnosticism to transform societies that are only becoming increasingly more violent – everywhere. Even countries that do not have the Western philosophical tradition are violent as paganism was always based on violence; i.e., human sacrifice as one example. Notice how the Avengers can only solve problems through violence even when their problems are internal (Captain America: Civil War)?
Paul draws from Old Testament scriptures to make the obvious conclusion that all who reject God, and those societies based on the “goodness” of man’s reasoning, can only cause bloodshed because they reject the knowledge of God (Ro 1:18-32; 3:10-18). The more governments move their societies away from God’s truth, the more violent the expressions of sin become and the more oppressive the government must become to maintain itself. The issue is not supporting “natural law” (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“) or the “goodness of man” (because the Bible clearly shows unregenerate man is not good) but in returning to the Gospel. Our time is seeing societies moving into Scientific Gnosticism, another form of positivism, while looking for the one person who will lead them out of the morass of continual violence and into an era of peace. Yet, I hear no one discussing the nearly continual violence man has experience since entering the era of modern philosophy. The death toll has become so mind numbing as to be ignored on the international scale. Yet, on the local scale violence has become the excuse to commit more violence.
Man is left with clear choices: salvation which brings peace in Christ or sin which continues to bring violence. Yet, unregenerate man rejects God leaving himself trapped between three colluding choices: communism (scientism), fascism (scientism and gnosticism) or somewhat pure forms of gnosticism (works-based religions). Currently these three compete against each other. The leader who can forge alliances among these three dogmas will be the “chosen one” Interesting, many movies now have a “chosen one” or savior motif preparing people for this event (Matrix, Captain America, Gandalf). Our two major presidential candidates present themselves as “saviors” to the violence facing America utilizing either a scientism approach or a scientism-gnostic approach, both of which will fail since they ignore the true issue – sin. Until that question is recognized and the solution embraced (salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone as discussed in the Scripture alone) we will continue to live with increasing violence and oppression. In the midst of this darkness Christians must be the light for those who are truly seeking the only solution for personal peace, Christ (Mt 5:14-16; Ro 10:9-10).