Op-ed: Latter-day Saints — beware the false god of 'history'

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  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 16, 2017 5:36 p.m.

    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, revelation, etc.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Aug. 26, 2017 6:36 p.m.

    The professor makes the assumption that religion is always good. History says otherwise. I think I'll stick with history.

  • Chancey Sandy, UT
    Aug. 26, 2017 4:58 p.m.

    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.

  • 2close2call Los Angeles, CA
    Aug. 25, 2017 10:14 p.m.

    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.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    Aug. 25, 2017 3:45 p.m.

    @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.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    Aug. 25, 2017 2:27 p.m.

    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.

  • HappyDad Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 25, 2017 1:18 p.m.

    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 it here.

  • Katie L St Paul, MN
    Aug. 25, 2017 10:53 a.m.

    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.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 24, 2017 9:59 p.m.

    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.

  • Manzanita , 00
    Aug. 24, 2017 1:15 p.m.

    @ 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 dialogue.

  • HyrumLewis Rexburg, ID
    Aug. 24, 2017 1:05 p.m.

    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.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    Aug. 24, 2017 12:47 p.m.

    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.

  • HyrumLewis Rexburg, ID
    Aug. 24, 2017 12:00 p.m.

    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.

  • HyrumLewis Rexburg, ID
    Aug. 24, 2017 11:53 a.m.

    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.

  • rogerdpack Orem, UT
    Aug. 24, 2017 11:42 a.m.

    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?

  • HyrumLewis Rexburg, ID
    Aug. 24, 2017 11:36 a.m.

    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.,

  • moresureword Maple Grove, MN
    Aug. 23, 2017 11:52 p.m.

    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.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 23, 2017 8:05 p.m.

    "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 direction

    2. The enlightened know what that direction is

    3. 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.

    Aug. 23, 2017 4:07 p.m.

    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."

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 23, 2017 3:58 p.m.

    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.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Aug. 23, 2017 2:58 p.m.

    @ Vermonter
    You 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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 23, 2017 12:53 p.m.

    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!!

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 23, 2017 11:03 a.m.

    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 answers

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 23, 2017 9:42 a.m.

    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.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Aug. 23, 2017 8:23 a.m.

    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.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Aug. 23, 2017 8:21 a.m.

    "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.

  • Ron A American Fork, UT
    Aug. 23, 2017 6:14 a.m.

    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.

  • Woohoo Somewhere, ID
    Aug. 23, 2017 12:33 a.m.

    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."

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:15 p.m.

    @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!

  • BradJames Manti, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 9:42 p.m.

    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 to say.

  • JBs Logan, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:39 p.m.

    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.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 22, 2017 4:29 p.m.

    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.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Aug. 22, 2017 4:11 p.m.

    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.

  • Sportsfan123 Salt lake, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 3:50 p.m.

    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.

  • smitxxx Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 3:12 p.m.

    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.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 22, 2017 2:52 p.m.

    "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. "


  • Danielson West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 2:19 p.m.

    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.

  • Manzanita , 00
    Aug. 22, 2017 2:16 p.m.

    @ 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?

  • Manzanita , 00
    Aug. 22, 2017 1:49 p.m.

    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.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 1:38 p.m.

    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 refund.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Aug. 22, 2017 1:30 p.m.

    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 sides."

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 1:11 p.m.

    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.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 22, 2017 12:21 p.m.

    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.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 12:13 p.m.

    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.

  • roseparkT Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 12:06 p.m.

    I really enjoyed this!

    Thank you professor.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:57 a.m.

    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.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:40 a.m.

    @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.

  • Mar4k Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:22 a.m.

    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.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:22 a.m.

    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?

  • Mom jeans man is gone Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:21 a.m.

    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.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:14 a.m.

    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.

  • Mar4k Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 11:04 a.m.

    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.

  • Mar4k Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:43 a.m.

    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.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:37 a.m.

    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 for truth.

  • Dmorgan Herriman, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:25 a.m.

    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.

  • Not-in-Utah-anymore , CA
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:24 a.m.

    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.

  • Really!? Logan, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:20 a.m.

    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.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Aug. 22, 2017 10:00 a.m.

    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?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 9:42 a.m.

    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.

  • Spangs Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 9:06 a.m.

    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.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 9:04 a.m.

    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 through grace.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Aug. 22, 2017 9:02 a.m.

    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.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:49 a.m.

    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).

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:49 a.m.

    Wow. Those pesky facts and history keep thinking people away from religion. And this author thinks that's a bad thing?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:26 a.m.

    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.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:25 a.m.

    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.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:23 a.m.

    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.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Aug. 22, 2017 8:16 a.m.

    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 gate.