Learning increases ( and sometimes takes sideroads and deadends ), technology
progresses; the basic nature of men - not so much. Man tends to worship himself.
And even honest, learned men disagree; not to mention the other kinds of men.
With apologies to good ol Santayana, even those who know history repeat it for a
variety of reasons: (1) they are a tiny minority; (2)historical situations are
repeated, but in different clothes and are not recognized; (3) Knowing something
and being able to actually do something about it are vastly different
propositions; being in the bleachers is totally different than being on the
field: (4) whose version of history can make a big difference; (5) I'm sure
someone could add a few more reasons. Sorry, RanchHand, good luck to you. There
are a vast multitudes of religions, but man's only hope is a Theistic
religion based on truths, such as God,faith, charity, humility, agency of man,
The professor makes the assumption that religion is always good. History says
otherwise. I think I'll stick with history.
Isn't impartiality the most difficult standard to maintain in any
discipline? It sure seems to be proven here, both in the article and in the
comments. Yet I enjoyed both.
This new series of Op Eds is interesting. Not exactly sure of the point, but
this particular Op ed is proof to me that their is no one true church on Earth
and they are all man made just as I suspect.
@HyrumLews: "Pushing for greater human rights is a worthy political
project... But believing that anyone who disagrees with you is “on the
wrong side of history” is an expression of a secular faith."Claiming that an opponent is “on the wrong side of history” is
nothing more than a lazy rhetorical tactic, a variant on the appeal-to-authority
logical fallacy. But an "expression of a secular faith."? That is
like calling common swear words, "prayers".Even in when
discussing American civil rights, no serious thinker on any side of the spectrum
would pretend that civil rights for any one group of citizens could be
extrapolated forward in a positive direction from any particular point in time.
If anything, America has seen peaks and valleys, or 2 steps forward
and 1 back. None of the advancements were inevitable, and certainly not the
result of passivity.An inexperienced civil rights activist might
seek to win a cheap point by invoking the "right side of history" based
on general trend lines over 240 years. But a successful activist -- a
progressive -- knows that those rights must be won, maintained, and yes
sometimes won back. Every year, every decade.
I too think it great that the author joins in the discussion and is willing to
mix it up a bit. But my impression of this column has not improved. "God of History" is not just a strawman, it is an logical
chimera. I realize this column requires breeding that phrase to make its point,
but don't expect it to survive long in the wild. The phrase
"being on the right side of history" is just an idiom much like the
pejorative "dustbin of history". Using either phase does not imply
religious-like faith or worship, but merely a short-hand for making a point. Likewise, when a child or adult sneers "I told you so" it is not
a statement of faith or confirmation of their belief that history moved in the
"right" direction. Merely, that they predicted the likely outcome of
events better than the person they are talking to. Sometimes it is just a lucky
guess.A sneered "I told you so" follows a negative outcome
or "wrong" direction as often as it does any progress. Look no further
than Trump's current flailing and failing, which was completely predictable
based on his performance in the GOP primary. No history worship necessary, just
common sense and average intuition.
The author has done an excellent job of describing exactly what so many
commenters on this very forum have said over and over again over the past
several years, like a broken record--prophesying that they are "on the right
side of history," as if that makes their opinion on any issue more valid
than any other opinion. It is truly only a belief in a magical "history
god" that could lead someone to say something so presumptuous and actually
believe that it is fact. And it is obvious that many subscribing to the
"history religion" really do, in sincerity, believe that their opinions
are fact. Their faith has fundamentally changed their perception of reality
until they can no longer even acknowledge differing points of view.Great piece. Needs to be carefully considered by the people who are attacking
This person needs to do a bit more reading of the Bible and recognize that the
Judeo-Christian God (and it's funny to me that he includes Mormons as
worshipping the Judeo-Christian God, when their corporeal conception of God
deviates radically from the historical Judeo-Christian tradition for good or
ill) explicitly and exclusively has a preferential option for those on the
margins. Read any of the prophets. Read the gospels. For goodness sake, even
read Leviticus. Sigh.
rogerdpack "You put the evidence into one picture and say it can't
belong in another, too. Why can't we both be right?"For me the difference is scientific evidence is repeatable. Every time
it's tested it comes out the same (Basically). In my
experience that's not true for faith based beliefs. Sometimes prayer works
out one way and sometimes it works out another (as an example). You can always
alter your original premise to justify the change in results.In
addition many faith based beliefs just have no tangible evidence. The concept
of God is an example. The concept of God is simply imposed over the tangible
evidence of what we feel and experience (us, earth etc), all of which has a
perfectly reasonable and verifiable scientific explanation. You can
choose to believe God made you but in order to do that you have to deny proven
facts or superimpose God over those facts as an originator. The two
just don't work together.
@ HyrumLewis - Rare is the day when the author of an op-ed piece in
this newspaper will jump into the lion's den and engage the comment
section. Although I don't agree with your premise (for reasons outlined in
my previous comments), I have absolute respect that you would come here to
clarify, engage, and push back where necessary. Thank you for the interesting
A final thought: I think it would do all of us much good to actually seek to
understand what people say instead of slapping "left-right" labels on
them and then making all kinds of assumptions about what they believe based on
those false labels. This is an intellectually dishonest and lazy way to proceed
and yet, sadly, it characterizes most public discourse today—cable news,
Sean Hannity, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter, etc. So sad to see it infect
commenters at Deseret News.Irony Guy, for instance, says that I
believe the “baloney” that anyone who "wants to see progress in
human rights" worships a false God of history. Never said that. Don’t
believe it. Why put words in my mouth when I am very clear, up
front, that history worship is simply believing that history has an inevitable
direction? Pushing for greater human rights is a worthy political project (and
transcends the silly right-left binary). But believing that anyone who disagrees
with you is “on the wrong side of history” is an expression of a
secular faith. They are two different things. Please read what authors actually
say instead of attacking straw men. I will work on it if you will.
History professor Hyrum Lewis mistakenly writes: "The 'arc of
history,' we are often told, 'bends towards justice.'"No. We are not often told that. The actual quotes are as follows:"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a
long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and
complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience.
And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice." - Theodore
Parker, a 19th C. Unitarian minister, speaking to his faith in the ultimate
success of the abolition of slavery, wrote:"The arc of the moral
universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - Rev. MLK Jr.
paraphrasing Parker, on his faith in the ultimate success of the civil rights
movement.The phrase "moral universe" is loaded and layered
with meaning, far beyond the simplistic pigeon-holing attempted by this column.
Sorry, my last comment cut off. I advocate jettisoning the political spectrum
in, for instance, "It’s Time to Retire the Political Spectrum”
at Quillette.com and my article for the Journal of the Historical Society.
Google to find either one.Thomas Thompson says:"he is, in
my view, mistaken to so baldly suggest that people who accept historical
analysis embrace the idea of predestination"I never say any such
thing. Historical analysis is wonderful. I do it every day. Secular historical
prophesying is not. They are two completely different things. Why do you feel
the need to ascribe positions to me that I don’t hold? Please read more
carefully (and, yes, I need to write more carefully).Marxist quotes
my formulation of the Creed of the religion of progress and says, " I find
these three statements outlandishly false. This is just outrageous
nonsense." Indeed, those three statements are outrageously false, but they
are implicit in every claim of being "on the right side of history."
Those who say "nobody believes this" need to consider that we've
all heard millions of people claim they are on the "right side of
history." This three part creed is implied in that statement.
Bacchus0902:Thanks for your comments. You say, "I think you fail to
understand what is really happening here. History for "Progressives of the
Left" is not God, is not even a "god" (lower g) history is nothing
more than the path we are deciding to create, we are the masters of our
destiny.”I’m glad you and many
“progressives” believe in agency. That’s terrific. I’m
not criticizing your ideology (many parts of which I may find myself in
agreement with). I’m only criticizing those who try to justify
policies—right wing or left wing—on the idea that history inevitably
moves in their direction and if you oppose them you are “on the wrong side
of history.” If you don’t believe that then this article
doesn’t apply to you. Although, if you don’t believe in
pre-determined historical progress, you may want to find a different political
label than “progressive,” which suggests otherwise.
Karl Popper’s _The Poverty of Historicism_ essentially made the same
point, I’m just applying it to the examples of "historicizing" I
see today. And, again, it's a bipartisan problem. There are many on the
"right" and "left" who don't engage in it--good for them.
@pragmatist,You said that though we can't see gravity we can see and
measure it's effects and thus learn of it's existence. Science,
then, is accepting the existence of an unknowable something on faith because of
evidence that it is true. The same applies to evolution, and all other science,
too. In essence, that's how we all make sense of our world and our
experience in it. We find evidence, make conclusions based on it, and accept the
answer based on that process, especially if we can reproduce the evidence. Even
if all the pieces don't fit yet, we assume that we simply haven't
figured it out or found enough evidence yet. (ex: Higgs Boson, Evolution in
it's early days, etc.)Why then, is this method of finding a belief in
something, be it gravity, history or whatever, only valid when applied to things
outside of Theism? Those of us in the Faith category believe because we
have evidence that is observable and even measurable. We experience that
evidence, make a conclusion, and accept it as truth, even when we don't
have all the pieces yet, the way everyone does. You put the evidence into one
picture and say it can't belong in another, too. Why can't we
both be right?
Quick response to some of the comments: I obviously didn't communicate my
point very well so I take responsibility for some of the misunderstandings that
are popping up.First, By "history" here, I don't mean
the field of history (study of the human past), but history in the Hegelian
sense of a grand unfolding of the human story. I agree with many of my
"critics" that studying and analyzing history is valuable (indeed,
it's what I've dedicated by life to). Historical analysis and
historical prophecy are two different things. Everyone should study the past and
engage in historical analysis. That is not history worship. Believing that there
is a direction and "right side" to history is.Second, people
think I'm making an ideological point. I'm not. As I said clearly up
front (which people, both "right" and "left," simply ignored),
history worship can be found on both sides of the political spectrum (the
"right wing" Bush admin's mistaken Iraq Policy is an example of
false historicizing). I actually find all "right" and "left"
talk quite harmful to public discourse and have published at length on this.
See, for ex.,
Professor Lewis writes:“People who dare ‘defy
history’ (by, say, opposing same-sex marriage) have been harassed,
threatened, persecuted and fired from jobs.
History worship threatens to
make our society less rational, more politicized and, ultimately, less
free.”In his book, "There is a God: How to Respond to
Atheism in the Last Days," Professor Lewis takes the position that it is
rational and freeing to believe in a God and in a religion that does not want
gay human beings to have the same rights of human happiness as straight human
beings.I cannot believe in a God that would permit human beings to
be born with a sexual attraction to a member of the same sex and then condemn
them as apostates, if they choose to marry legally, or place restrictions on
their children's membership rights because their parents are gay.
"In our current society, worship of the Judeo-Christian God is being
replaced by the worship of a “God of History,” the deity of the
“Religion of Progress.” This religion permeates our culture, largely
shapes public discourse, and has a major impact on popular thinking. It can be
summarized in a three-part creed:1. History is unfolding in a
pre-determined direction2. The enlightened know what that direction
is3. That direction is good."Based on my experience
teaching economic history for 20 years, I find these three statements
outlandishly false. This is just outrageous nonsense.
These comments, on both sides, only prove Professor Lewis's point. Hugh NIbley's reply to Fawn Brodie slightly reworded, defines our
problem: "No, ma'am [or man], that's not history."We are
in the process of redefining "history". No legitimate historian would
say "right side of history" or "wrong side of history." History
is interpreted with known facts--always with an awareness that more data could
come forth that would change the entire picture. For the vast majority of
history, none of us were alive, having first-hand knowledge.Failing to
learn the lessons of history, thus repeating it? If that's a true axiom,
why do we keep doing the same dumb things over and over? We've been
"educating" students in history for a long time. The history curriculum
of the 20th/21st Centuries hasn't helped much.The approach to solve
problems of the past can be too negative. Why not in our individual lives work
to make a better future for mankind by being the best people we can be? Seems a
bit more positive to me. But it won't happen when we choose sides--finding
fault with one another to the point of violence and hatred--that's only the
proverbial "history repeating itself."
I've been thinking again about the discussion with Vermonter but I'm
no closer to understanding how a discussion that is supported by scientific
facts is perceived by someone armed only with faith based claims as shutting
down free speech and open discussion. My standard of truth does not
require that I can see something. No one knows what gravity is much less has
seen it. We have seen it's effects and can develop truths around that.
Faith on the other the other hand requires belief in what can't
be logically supported in any way. There are no effects in this world that are
explained by a God that can't be explained more easily and simply by a non
deist explanation. Because you reject evidence, and I reject that
approach how am I shutting down open discussion. say what you will. I will
reject it out of hand because of your intentional lack of evidence.
@ VermonterYou wrote:"True science recognizes very few laws, but
has spawned many theories and hypotheses. The Scientific Method is a process to
question and probe, and is inherently dubious of those who claim to know
"the truth." The term "settled science" is one of the greatest
oxymorons of our day and age."Full transparency, I believe in
Evolution and Science. I also have a testimony of God and the gospel.In various occasions I have heard people saying "The Theory of Evolution
is only a theory" but the scriptures are true. The irony of that statement
is that the theory of evolution can provide evidence to support its claim.
While, the veracity of the scriptures is a dogma that have to be accepted mostly
by faith.Regarding "stettled Science" I agree with you.
There are few things that we can "think" will not change. However,
Science is always open to change when confronted to new evidence.Some people of faith "feel" attacked when questioned about their
beliefs. We leftist, secular, thrive in questioning ourselves, our relatives and
anybody who crosses our path. We are not attacking, we are asking because we
want to know.By the way, God is a darn good scientist.
A few thoughts.First people of faith who understand and respect our
constitution correctly understand that "freedom is not free" as we
learned in the Revolutionary war and WWII. Also we live in "the land of the
free because of the brave". Second history is the LAST thing the
university culture teaches today. In fact history is being destroyed as we speak
by the lefties -- even Christopher Columbus and Teddy Roosevelt. History is
being re-written falsely by the hippie professors of the 60's and young
immature adults are soaking up all this false intellectual rot.Finally Christians believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ -- not the gospel
of politics and the federal governement (religion of the left) is the path to
happiness. The proof is in the doing....and from a correct view of history!!
Vermonter, what I actually said was " when the religious refuse to accept
science in favor of biblical statements (abortion, sexual orientation, climate
change..etc.)."I didn't say religious people
"don't accept" science. I said often religious people accept
biblical principles over the known facts of science. Has science
given us all the details and specifics of evolution (a process that started
billions of years ago)? Of course not. Has science given us enough to know
unequivocally that humans were created in a process over millions of years?
Yes, as opposed to the Biblical Garden of Eden (even a metaphorical
garden/single event creation). If accepting what we know in science
and at the same time accepting advances in science over non provable religious
beliefs is shutting down the discussion, then guilty.I've been
through the faith experience and found it drastically wanting as an explanation
for the way I experienced the world. Evil, is sufficiently explained
in the nature of humans for me, but not as a Godly expression of fee will. Science is never settled nor does it have to be to provide correct
@pragmatistforlife.I appreciate your post. Your post pointed
out another basic tenet of the Religion of Progressivism. That is, that
"science" is on the side of progressivism, and that those who oppose
progressivism are "unscientific." Then, you demonstrated
how progressives dismiss and attempt to shut down debate, discussion and
critical analysis with the phrase, "the religious refuse to accept
science..." After all, how can anyone be expected to have an intelligent
conversation those who "refuse to accept science."This is
another example of the Religion of Progressivism redefining a word-- this time
"science"--to suit their needs. True science recognizes
very few laws, but has spawned many theories and hypotheses. The Scientific
Method is a process to question and probe, and is inherently dubious of those
who claim to know "the truth." The term "settled science" is
one of the greatest oxymorons of our day and age.
I've been exposed to many strains of history, some of far better quality
than others, some hardly deserving of being called history. But this diatribe
written by one identified as a "professor of history at BYU-Idaho isn't
even rational.There is good history offered out there. But you have
to have a hunger for it in order to find it.
"Anti-theist belief systems become faith based, irrational belief traditions
when they refuse to engage in rational discussion, instead shutting down dissent
as if heresy."You will notice that the progressives here have
engaged in rational discussion, and in many cases have praised the discussion.
For me personally the author makes two fundamental errors upon which
his whole argument is based. First is he treats all forms of secular analysis
as one. Secondly because of that he is comfortable making the claim that all
such analysis believe in an arch of history. I would disagree with
both claims. I would also question who is refusing to engage in
rational discussion, when the religious refuse to accept science in favor of
biblical statements (abortion, sexual orientation, climate change..etc.).For me the point of being a progressive is not the fulfillment of
history but rather the making of history.
True that secularism isn't the false Religion. But the high priests dressed
in the robes of a false priesthood conferring honor and degrees in temples of
learning practice a religion or ideology, or philosophy called Materialism.
It's a powerful philosophy that elevates what can be measured and denies
what can not. It's main tenet is that every effect has an underlying cause.
The result is technology, the work of men's hands. The technology is what
is worshipped by the practitioners of this religion. Materialism is what Hegel
and Espinosa taught and Marx absorbed. Materialism is why students believe that
the future can be predicted by the outcome of the conflicts if the past.
Materialism is why so many deny what cannot be easily observed. Side note:
quantum mechanics is a paradox because ultimately you are forced to deny
materialism if you are to believe your own observations.
The writer spoke a lot about where virtue doesn't comes from. The title
could be re-written as where does virtue come from? Does it comes from being on
the winning side of whatever it is?Sometimes the winning side has
done terrible things to the losing side. That doesn't sound all that
virtuous.We can be misguided in all kind of directions today I think
the author is just pointing out one of the ways some people excuse bad behavior
/ immorality."Since virtue comes from being on the “right
side of history,” rather than from repentance, adherents to the Religion
of Progress can freely indulge in substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and
general hedonism. Anyone who condemns such behavior is clearly an opponent of
the Religion of Progress and can be accordingly dismissed as,
“intolerant,” “bigoted,” “reactionary,”
“racist,” “sexist,” “fascist,”
“imperialist,” etc. This gives history worshippers a sense of moral
superiority to go along with their hedonism."
@Sportsfan123 "If anything the left denies history, infact they are
attempting to re write it. "Hogwash! Marx identified roughly
several stages of history: 1) Primitive communism as in hunter/gatherer, 2)
Slavery, 3) Feudalism, 4) Capitalism, and eventually 5) Socialism.Marxists hardly deny history.@Sportsfan123 "Society
progressed from hunter gatherer to what it is today,..."Watch
out, you sound slightly Marxian!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. Father in Heaven has
prepared His emissaries to preach the Gospel. Satan will have a stranglehold
upon many in the last days. I'm dropping the mic. That's all there is
Mr. Lewis, is it only the Left that is seeing what it wants to in history? I
don't think so. And to lump the Left in with Marx and that way of thinking
is uncalled for. While most people won't admit it, everyone
wants something for nothing, and that includes the Left and Right. Lottery,
anyone? While people on the left are seen as lazy and wanting to be taken care
of, people on the right are painted as selfish bigots who don't want to
help anyone at all. Neither is correct for the vast majority of people in either
party; people are more complex than that and are basically good and decent.
I don't like your opinion piece because, while it is
interesting and certainly thought-provoking, it feels like you are demonizing
the Left. I wouldn't like it if it were demonizing the Right either, and
I'd be defending them. We need to stop this.
@Manzanita.I appreciate your question.I believe your post
mischaracterizes the Book of Mormon verses you refer to. The Book of Mormon
does not say that the LDS Church is the only true church on the earth. The Book
of Mormon merely states that when truth is taught, it is part of the true church
of God. And when falsehoods are taught as though they were true, it is an
abomination.Second, though LDS missionaries encourage all to read
the entire Book of Mormon, they do not stick peoples' noses into that
particular verse right off the bat. Instead, they encourage them to read the
whole book, and read all of it in the proper context.LDS
missionaries encourage all investigating their teachings to keep all the truth
they have, and see if the missionaries can add to it.This is not to
say the Book of Mormon is perfect. The abridger of the book acknowledges that
even canonized scripture may contain the mistakes of men. We are encouraged to
not be too judgmental (or cynical) and risk condemning the word of God because
the physical book itself might contain the mistakes of men.Thanks
for asking about this.
If "the Religion of Progress" is really a religion, why would anybody
listen to Hyrum Lewis to learn about it? For that matter, why would this paper
publish such a critical editorial by an outspoken critic of the religion? Does
the Deseret News no longer believe in treating religious views with respect?
Printing this would be like printing a piece on Christianity by Christopher
Hitchens or a piece on Mormonism by Ed Decker.
Not sure I can completely agree with referring to the left, liberals,
communist's, marxist's to an analogy of history worshipers.The author gets this whole analogy piece all wrong.If anything the
left denies history, infact they are attempting to re write it. Understanding
our history is to understand how our civilization got to this point. But to run
around defacing monuments, denouncing anything to do with Diety or organized
religion is infact trying to stamp out what gets in the way of the communist and
marxist leftist ideals and their attempt to rewrite history or dictate the
history they want.Those ideals are to destroy what makes this
country great and unique, they want you to believe everyone should be treated
equally, to live in a social climate where everyone is their equal, yet in the
same breath preach diversity, and freedom of conscience.If we are to
accept diversity then why is the left against organized religion, specifically
christianity.Society progressed from hunter gatherer to what it is
today, largely because of believing in something or someone higher for us to
emulate.Without it we regress to caveman tactics, rioting, killing,
sex drugs, anarchy.
The author shares my concern: that the progressive left claims it believes in
free speech, including the right to dissent, but it doesn't really:
"you may freely express your opinions as long as they agree with mine."
State sponsored universities are populated by professors who are tearing down
belief in God, capitalism, biblical standards of right and wrong, the
traditional family structure. They denigrate the founders of America, and want
to impose government control into virtually every area of our life because of
"man-made global warming." They are trying to suppress religious
expression in the public square. Anyone not buying into this progressive
religion is marginalized and shut down. While claiming conservative bigotry,
they are completely intolerant of opposing views--the essential element of
bigotry. The government under our Constitution is by far the
must just and most tolerant legal system in the world. It is not perfect, but
it has upheld the rights of the powerless better than any government every
created by man. Its religions, though imperfect, have helped the poor and
disadvantaged more than any other society on earth.
"History worshippers, seeing themselves as the enlightened vanguard for a
better world rather than the religious zealots they are, feel justified in
oppressing and silencing those who disagree. "Amen
Wow, if only LDS members could see in themselves what you accuse
"liberals" of being. I do agree with the author, that liberalism has
become a religion. The point not understood by the author is that ANY
organization that puts dogama above logic and rational thought is a problem.
This applies to both liberal and religious groups. Look in the mirror, Mormons.
@ Vermonter - The Mormon Church, in its canonized scripture, teaches
that there are only two churches - one is God's only true Church on earth
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and all the others are an
abomination.How do those scripture not contradict your assertion
that Mormon missionaries don't tell potential converts that their
respective churches are wrong?
At the outset, the author invokes Judeo/Christian history to support his
argument, and in the next breath he attempts to dismiss the use of history by
those who disagree with him. The summary of the author's
position is that relying on history is good except when the author disagrees
with it. At bottom, this argument is merely a restatement of the oft-quoted
teaching by the late Mormon apostle Body K. Packer, who said the following to a
roomful of Church educators: "some things that are true are not very
useful." As an educator at a Church-sponsored university, it
appears the author has taken his marching orders to heart.
Wow, what a weak opinion piece."Privilege" amounts to
"original sin"? Seriously? On which planet?As a
progressive, I think "privilege" only amounts to a simple need for
cognizance that not everyone has the same starting point. That's it.
Sure, there are some extreme militant examples, but most people who've been
on Earth for 3 decades realize life is a lot more complex, that simplistic
thinking simply isn't going to get it done.If this professor is
teaching history at an accredited university, the students should ask for a
What I hear in this essay and in conservatives generally these days is that they
see American culture changing in ways that they find fundamentally threatening.
I hear them worrying about this no longer being a white and Christian-dominated
culture.What I hear in my progressive friends is that this
necessarily equates to racism, white supremacy, and/or religious bigotry. But
resisting change that you don't see as in your best interests isn't
necessarily about anything except not wanting change that you don't see as
in your best interests.So I think we need to slow down with the
name-calling. On both sides. Or as someone we all know might say, "On many
The most clear description of change the last 300 years is found in Karl
Polanyi's great book "The Great Transformation," which is nothing
like the writer or any of the responses here.I find commenting in
these D-News blogs increasingly futile, so I humbly offer Polanyi as a great
source of knowledge and wisdom. Polanyi is well known among anthropologists and
a few enlightened economists. I doubt the writer has read him.
@Impartial7.My comments may have very little influence with you. And I am
not telling you to change your mind. It is up to you what you do with what I
write, and whether or not you read it. Just offering some thoughts.Representatives of the predominant religion in Utah are taught that they are
not to tell people that their beliefs are incorrect. Rather, those
representatives are taught to simply share beliefs that they have found valuable
with those willing to listen. Then, it is up to those that listen to choose how
they reconcile their previous beliefs with the new ideas that have been
introduced to them. If some of those representatives have in the
past overzealously directly told people that their beliefs are wrong, they have
not shared their message in the correct manner.
Technology increases; but, people still exhibit human weaknesses. Read
"Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science" by
William Broad and Nicholas Wade; Simon and Schuster 1982. Just for starters. My
kids refused to watch black & white movies/tv shows. Almost all of us, if
not all of us have little idea what it was like to live even 150 years ago; what
perceptions were common, etc.. A series "Problems in American
Civilization" D.C. Heath Publishers (1961) makes it clear that there are
differing takes on history. I realize that this is pre-Politically Correct, but
surely, there are still some honest thinkers around.
I really enjoyed this!Thank you professor.
With such a narrow interpretation of how History is studied, I'm worried
that the author is one who is teaching History at BYU-I.
@Mom jeans man is gone;"It always fascinates me when non
believers want to read and then comment on what others believe. If you
don't believe then don't believe. Neither side will change the
other's mind by their comments."That's ironic coming
from you. The main difference between non-believers, or those that don't
belong to the predominant religion in Utah, is that they don't plan sales
strategies for neighbors and send representatives to their doorsteps to tell
them that their beliefs are wrong. The church teaches agency, then disregards
those teachings many times over.
It's worth noting that this OPED is directed to an LDS audience- those who
take a belief in God as a basis for all their decision-making. Atheists
shouldn't be surprised when they disagree with the premises and arguments.
Please don't impose your religious title on secular ideas, they are not he
same.No secular group is selling, after life insurance.Religion of progress? Giving up polygamy, progress or conveniently
received prophecy?Blacks and the priesthood, Civil rights movement or
conveniently overlooked Not doctrine?Is he saying monuments to men
are idolatry? Cause pretty sure there's a golden man on top of a lot
of LDS Temples built to God?
It always fascinates me when non believers want to read and then comment on what
others believe. If you don't believe then don't believe. Neither side
will change the other's mind by their comments. A change of heart is what
is needed and most don't care to do that.
A very thought-provoking piece.As history is perhaps my favorite
thing to study and read about, the author's proposition that the god of
"history" is the great danger of our time is troubling, but accurate.
If read carefully, the author is not saying that "history"
is the problem. Rather, the Religion of Progressivism has hijacked the
definition of "history" and molded into its primary blunt weapon to mute
all conflicting and critical thought. For, after all, who can argue with
"history?"The "history" endorsed by modern-day
progressives is only one narrative, and one set of "facts"--entirely
monolithic. Indeed, to challenge "history" with alternative
"facts," and a different point of view is the ultimate heresy for the
Religion of Progressivism. Hence the rejection of Christianity, and a plurality
of organized religions. After all, the Bible deigns to assert that there can be
4 separate and differing accounts of the greatest biography in all of
Christendom. Christianity further asserts that belief and faith must be
individually found and acted on. The Religion of Progressivism can never
tolerate the germination of such dangerous ideas.
To those saying the author's own logic could be used against him: He
doesn't represent the worst of religion. Just like you don't represent
the worst of whatever entity or group or ideology YOU belong to. He
is a reasonable, logical human being working a university that is sponsored by a
church and he isn't burning buildings or launching a military attack to
spread his ideas- he's using his keyboard and his ideology is as valuable
and no more dangerous than anyone else's. He calls out the
abuses of atheists, not to avoid or diminish the abuses of Christians but to
alert us all to the dark side of any ideology and to help us evaluate the
ideology that we each necessarily submit to, as dictated by our biology.
The author only refers to the belief in "predestination" insofar as that
destination is. "Good". I don't think people believe in
predestination but many belief that wherever we are heading, it's
"goodness" is certain. That somehow humans, through striving, can leave
their fallen state and make the world a good, fair place.Ironically,
this negates the mission of the Savior. Those who subscribe to such a dogma
place both history and themselves in His place.
Facts and history are not conducive to promoting religions based in mythology,
so I can see where the author would marginalize progressives and their fondness
The esteemed professor builds a straw man "Religion of Progress", then
supports it with over-generalizations. It's tough to read and debate
critically due to the nature of the generalizations. "Word salads", are
tough to digest. They may sate your hunger but what you're consuming is
fluff and air.
Wow! A very thoughtful and - in my opinion - accurate argument of what
we're seeing today. Historian Ian Buruma said: “I am skeptical about
the idea that we can learn much from history, at least in the sense that
knowledge of past follies will prevent us from making similar blunders in the
future... And yet it is important to know what happened before, and to try and
make sense of it. For if we don't, we cannot understand our own
times.” Self-labeled progressives may believe they're pushing us all
toward a better world, but I think we're going in the same circles.
I thought the article was articulate and poignant. These are the thoughts I am
having, but have not put pen to paper. What Prof. Lewis has written are the
feelings of many people, which explains why the left have a hard time electing
anyone lately. We just lived through eight years of "the wrong side of
history" and didn't find it appealing. For all those that disagree, I
have a spoiler alert; I read the book and God wins in the end.
NoNamesAccepted - St. George, UT wrote: This properly characterizes many secular
belief systems today. Because they are not overtly based on a super-natural god,
the anti-deist/theist belief systems belief they are justified in conduct that
they would roundly condemn were it to come from churches or men of faith. My
question to you. How is it that you have come to know what many secular belief
systems believe what they are or aren't justified in doing and which
secular belief systems specifically are you referring to?
A fine read for those willing to read something above a 3rd grade level. I
think the most important sentiment of the article is this paragraph:"Since it does not acknowledge itself as a faith, history worship poses
dangers that other religions do not. History worshippers, seeing themselves as
the enlightened vanguard for a better world rather than the religious zealots
they are, feel justified in oppressing and silencing those who disagree. While
other religions are subject to legal constraints, such as the separation of
church and state which (rightly) denies them public funding, we are all
compelled to subsidize the Religion of Progress through taxation (e.g., public
funding of universities, media and art)."This properly
characterizes many secular belief systems today. Because they are not overtly
based on a super-natural god, the anti-deist/theist belief systems belief they
are justified in conduct that they would roundly condemn were it to come from
churches or men of faith.Anti-theist belief systems become faith
based, irrational belief traditions when they refuse to engage in rational
discussion, instead shutting down dissent as if heresy.
Let me dumb this down for myself...The author seems to imply that any goal
for our community that does not come from a position of Judeo-Christian faith
is, in some way, coming from the worship of something else (e.g. worship of
ideas). The author then goes on to argue that this is bad. So if I'm
reading this right, any conclusion coming from the study of civics, ethics or
economics could be accused of arising from "false gods." Unless, of
course, it is inspired by some veneer of Christian propriety. If we
weren't talking about Christianity, this might have been a very compelling
argument for someone proposing institution of Sharia Law.
As a Judeo-Christian people we should endeavor to remove all statues.
Glorifying anyone or anything but God is a sin.Doesn't matter
your political views, just look at the hatred surrounding these statues and look
how far we have fallen from God, and the love of Jesus that brought us salvation
For me the most important four words in this op-ed are these: "The
Judeo-Christian tradition".Because something is tradition does not
make it right or factual and therefore is open to intepretation, questioning and
evolution. Many religions and other organizations have had "traditions"
that for very good reasons are either no longer practiced or have evolved. Think
polygamy, human sacrifice and hazing for just a few examples. Beware of follwing
a "tradition" just because our ancestors did so.
Dear Professoer, With all due respect, I will counter that organized
religion itself, more than anything, "threatens to make our society less
rational, more politicized and, ultimately, less free."We, in
your "Religion of Progress", will proudly wear that label as we eschew
the great hypocrisy of religion - the false notions and practices that church
attendance makes one a good person; one must believe in god in order to behave
well; the political right espouses Christian values......and the list goes
on.Progressives don't give deference to religion because 1)
there is no rational basis to do this, and 2) there is just too much bad stuff
coming out of religion (all the good stuff notwithstanding).
Wow. Those pesky facts and history keep thinking people away from religion. And
this author thinks that's a bad thing?
This essay is not only baloney but dangerous baloney. No thoughtful
person considers white people "evil" because they are white. Few are
overtly racist. When we speak of white privilege, we're talking about the
political and economic benefits accrued by the majority in our society whether
intentional or not. Is it "evil" to recognize this reality and try to do
make things better? We are "worshipers of a false god of
history" because we want to see progress in human rights? I think not. But
Prof. Lewis denounces those of us who show sympathy for oppressed minorities as
adherents of some imaginary false religion. For an LDS professor to take this
position is the Irony of the Week.
Dear Mr. Lewis,I think the core of your essay can be found in your
stated premised of "— but the God of History denies
agency."I think you fail to understand what is really happening
here. History for "Progressives of the Left" is not God, is not even a
"god" (lower g) history is nothing more than the path we are deciding to
create, we are the masters of our destiny and as such, we are using our
intellect. morals, spiritual goals, sense of justice and our "Free
Agency" to rectify evils that were being perpetuated by staled and
oppressive way of thinking, Evils such as slavery, denying women the same rights
to participation in society,classifying whole ethnic groups as inferior,
interfering in the private lives of productive citizens, curtailing their
rights, because of their sexual orientation. We, progressive of the
lefts believe in personal responsibility, free agency with the rights and
responsibilities entailed. Also, as a follower of Christ and his teachings, I
believe It is my responsibility to make this world a better place for all
God's children. See, history is not a god, but just the result of our free
agency, hopefully, make good for all mankind.
It's good piece and an interesting and insightful read. I would have
preferred the inclusion of the LDS view of God's Plan of agency,
accountability, and consequences. Those were present (according to the LDS) in
the pre-existence, again in mortality, and will be present while awaiting the
resurrection. All the while, there are natural laws that govern the
universe, and because He is God, He is strictly and predictably adherent to
those laws. He is perfect because He follows ALL laws perfectly. There is
right and wrong. He is perfectly right ALL the time. And because He is
perfect, he is perfectly able to grant His children the same perfection as we
follow His plan to attain perfection. He even says, "Be ye therefore
perfect". There is nothing He cannot do with his reward system
because He is perfect and follows laws perfectly. This is a pretty marked
deviation from other Christian belief systems. For many, God cannot or will not
allow us to become perfect. He is not perfect in that way, so they say.As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, because we love Him.
Respectfully, there is too much either/or going on in the argument the author
tries to make. Thus, while the author is surely right to be suspicious of too
great a reliance on historical theorizing, he is, in my view, mistaken to so
baldly suggest that people who accept historical analysis embrace the idea of
predestination -- that "[h]istory is unfolding in a pre-determined
direction." People who accept historical analyses do not believe this.
Instead, they believe, with the great George Santayana, that "he who does
not learn from history is condemned to repeat it." Thus, for example,
because world did not learn much from World War I, it was condemned to
experience the horrors of World War II. Nor do "many on the
'right' believe history inevitably points to peace and prosperity
under the free market or to universal democracy through American military
intervention." They believe, instead, that mainline conservative
principles better describe our place in the world and maximize our freedom.
While I'll hope to hear more from this writer, I'll also hope in the
future for more nuance in his arguments.
Wow, this could be argued a lot of different ways, especially against the
direction I think the author intended. The first problem is accepting without
question the initial premises and assumptions. This is shaky right out of the