Joe Cannon: 1815-30: Birth of modernity and the rise of materialism

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  • @1213am June 2nd
    June 2, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    I think it is good to be specific as without specificity and scrupulosity we fail to be truthful.

    It was when the medieval Roman Catholic Church reigned supreme over the kings of the earth, and through them and through papal legates, the Inquisition etc they did maintain an iron yoke of tyranny over the religious practices of the people of Europe, and even that part of the Americas over which they held sway.

    So it was not "religion" but a particular religion that is known to have notoriously burned people at the stake. When the monopoly of this church was broken at first some major groups that broke away from the Roman Church continued to be exclusive and restrictive. This did not mean that they necessarily were quite as cruel. I mean I would rather have been beheaded under Henry VIII than burned to death under Bloody Mary.

    There were more religions and individuals that were persecuted than were persecuting however, and Jesus Christ and his disciples were at times ruthlessly imprisoned, beaten, crucified and fed to lions. He never taught intolerance and tyranny and his sincere followers never have either.

  • What good did religin do?
    June 2, 2009 12:13 a.m.

    Back in the days when religion reigned supreme in the lives of people what good did it do?

    People were burned at the stake for disagreeing with the prevailing religious doctrine, including for believing that the earth revolved around the sun.

    The church at the time never did come out against slavery, the ultimate affront against loving your neighboor.

    Now that we are focused on other things, we are actually better people.

    So what exactly is the loss Mr. Cannon?

  • Your God vs My God
    June 1, 2009 11:49 a.m.

    "Whatever you call him an omnipotent god has replaced the multiple immoral gods of bygone ages, and is now accepted by most people virtually worldwide..."

    Not even close. First, the hubris of your statement is extraordinary. You're saying that in the long history of supernatural beliefs, _your_ version of God is now the "last word" on the subject? Don't you get it? That's what _everyone_ says about their gods.

    Second, since when does the popularity of a belief establish the truthfulness of a belief? Not too long ago, everyone, including the great thinks of the age, believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and the Sun and stars all rotated around us. Was geocentrism correct because most of the world's people believed in it?

    I get the strong feeling that had you been alive 400 years ago you'd be one of the people demanding the Galileo be burned at the stake for the heretical assertion that Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun.

  • God of the whole world
    June 1, 2009 9:09 a.m.

    Whatever you call him an omnipotent god has replaced the multiple immoral gods of bygone ages, and is now accepted by most people virtually worldwide (except communist tyrannies that do not permit freedom of thought).

    Most of the greatest scientists not only acknowledged God's existence but were of the most devout (though often not orthodox) believers. Newton in physics, Boyle "the father of modern chemistry", Maxwell and others.

    Besides all that the great majority of the people can see that there can be no accidental universe, and an accidental planet earth is ridiculous.

  • re 11:33 p.m. May 31
    June 1, 2009 12:00 a.m.

    The God you speak of is not a logically possible God, but the god of western tradition.

  • re A "logically possible" God?
    May 31, 2009 11:52 p.m.

    Nothing can exist unless logically possible.

    If something is a logical possibility, it may or may not exist, it is a flip of the dice if it exists.

    However given the vastness of the universe, and even the possibility of multiple universes, or platforms of which we are unaware, infinite in number as we now suspect is the case, from physics

    If God is a logical possibility, the physical God I speak of, then even if God doesn't exist (the dice come up right) in millions of these universes, then perhaps it they do come up right in just one out of billions,

    That being the case, given the power of God, God is able to get around to all the others, and Gods presence will be felt everywhere.

    Yet if God is not a logical possibility, there can be no God, - this is just obvious right?

    Logic and math are unchangeable, are eternal, and underly all of physical existence. the "begining and the end" alpha and omega, are self existant one.

    Doesn't God explain God this way in the scriptures?
    Given this, Doesn't it make sense that math/logic is in part, what God is?

  • A "logically possible" God?
    May 31, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    10:30 PM's claim that "God exists because the existance of God is logically possible" is not a rational argument at all.

    You could equally well claim that Zeus resides in a hidden cave on Mars or that a fleet of sunken WWI battleships are orbiting Pluto. That such things might exist does not make them real and the best that can be said is that the likelihood of such things being real is so remote that distinctions between their extreme improbability and their complete non-existence are irrelevant.

    The burden of proof is on the person claiming that such things _are_ real. Show us the objective and testable evidence for such a claim - otherwise you're wasting everyone's time.

    As to the "logical possibility" of God - that's not a given. Is God capable of preventing or stopping evil? Is God not omnipotent?

    Is God capable of preventing evil but unaware of it? Is God not omniscient?

    Is God aware of evil, and capable of preventing it, but chooses to do nothing about evil? Is this an "all-loving" God?

    What then can we say about the true source of evil?

  • Even God can be understood
    May 31, 2009 10:30 p.m.

    What I like about modernity is that we now claim that everything can be explained rationally. Before it was just a bunch of hocus pocus.

    Even the existance of God can be explained. God exists because the existance of God is logically possible.

    The existance of an electron is a logical possiblity, if not there would be no electrons.

    The design of my house has always existed, the materials my house is made of are a logical possibility, hense my house is a logical possibility.

    Mathematics and logic underlies all of physical existence, including God, including spirit.

    I would go so far as to say, that math and logic is a part of what God is, these are from everlasting to everlasting, 1+1 couldn't be anything but 2, hense math and logic are unchanging. Math and logic underly all of physical existance, including the physical or spiritual body of God.

    Alpha and Omega, the begining and the end unchanging, God or math/logic, perhaps and most likely these are one in the same.

  • Calling Mr. Webster
    May 31, 2009 9:57 p.m.

    I think you folks are confusing the meaning of the word "materialism."

    While it's true that a "materialistic" world view characterized by avarice, envy, and mindless acquisitiveness is a problem for any society, I think what's irking the religiously devout these days is the _other_ meaning of the word "materialism." This type of "materialism" relates to the philosophy that everything in the universe, including personal consciousness, is based on the matter in the universe and that there are no supernatural intelligences or energies at play in the universe.

    This materialism is, naturally, offensive to religious adherents since it denies the existence of a deity - or perhaps more accurately, simply has no use for a deity.

    The buzzword de jour among religious conservatives is "scientific materialism," which they use as a pejorative. To these folks, "belief" is an adequate substitute for "knowing."

    The truth, of course, is that belief and knowledge are not the same thing at all, and the conflict between those two concepts is the reason young men fly jet airliners full of innocent people into buildings.

  • Best and Worst
    May 31, 2009 7:38 p.m.

    I think the article started well, necessarily pointing out that the "Enlightenment" contained the 'best and worst' and was not always "enlightening".

    1830 was mentioned as a pivotal date. It certainly is an important date to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as it is the year that our Church was legally established.

    It is also the year of the first steam locomotive, a year of minor revolutions in mainland Europe, and the year that Darwin set forth in the Beagle. Of these the launching of the Church and the locomotive represent true progress. The others did not seem to benefit mankind in any way, to lead to greater happiness or other benefits material or spiritual.

    Many material goods are either necessary or very helpful but need not be worshipped as the be-all and end-all of life.

  • Roland Kayser
    May 31, 2009 5:00 p.m.

    Many scholars would date the birth of modernism to the mid 1600s and the works of Descartes. He was the first major thinker to propose that no assumptions could be taken on faith, all must be tested to ensure their accuracy. This applied to religious dogma as well as to the works of Plato and Aristotle which were also held to be incontrovertible in that age.
    To the ananymous posters compaining about materialism: There are different definitions of materialism, you are not thinkng of the definition the author had in mind.

  • Luddites on the loose!
    May 31, 2009 4:29 p.m.

    Enlightenment is to be celebrated, not feared.

    What made the early 19th century so important? This was the first century in the history of western civilization when widespread public literacy, availability of books, and the absence of punishment for reading anything more than the Bible were considered "normal" for large portions of the general population.

    To no one's surprise many ancient beliefs, long-regarded as untestable and unassailable, end up faring poorly when they are at last publicly analyzed in the light of objective data and intelligent reasoning. Secular science has a remarkable record of refuting sectarian mythology whenever they compete on a level playing field.

    The combination of literacy, freedom of speech and freedom of the press is, as our nation's founders intended, a potent challenge to authoritarian philosophies, especially dogmatic religions.

    I'm ready to bet a dollar that Mr. Cannon's next piece on "Darwin and Marx" will be an attempt to conflate the two, thus justifying a theologically-motivated attack on the scientific method and what has been learned of both the Earths and humanity's non-miraculous origins through the careful application of reason and evidence.

  • Excellent article
    May 31, 2009 3:18 p.m.

    I am glad someone else knows these things besides me.And furhermore, the Age of Enlightenment and the subsequent rise of materialism, and I might add today's so-called Age of Science gave birth to a great deal of history revision of the Renaissance by intellectuals trying to persecute all things spiritual and religious.
    This world today, in spite of so called technical and scientific "marvels", is in a spiritual, social, intellectual and even medical "dark age", IMO, and not a world advancing into some grand humanistic age of advancement of mankind and human rights.
    To Anonymous 12:39 PM
    There have been a number of societies that were not greedy and materialistic. Shakers, Quakers, the American Indians, Essenes, etc etc, I could just go on and on. They had a spiritual and religious base. That is how they got this way.

  • mike mcbride
    May 31, 2009 1:25 p.m.

    My wife was called to explain the Godhead to the Orchard 9th Ward today and she was allowed 10 minutes. Joseph A. Cannon condensed the age of Enlightenment and the Rise of Materialism down to nine paragraphs and maybe eight column inches. Who needs college credits anyway?

  • @Anonymous
    May 31, 2009 12:39 p.m.

    Show me an epoch of time in recorded history where materialism and greed didn't ruin civilization. Got ya!

  • Chuck
    May 31, 2009 10:48 a.m.

    This is a thought provoking article, thanks!

  • Anonymous
    May 31, 2009 12:56 a.m.

    Materialism and greed are what is wrong with everything today. Everyone now-a-days measures their "success" by their house, car, and bank account. It just leads to greed, pride, and a whatever-it-takes attitude ultimately rationalizing cheating.

    If more people would measure their sucess by happiness, this world would be a lot better place.