The Enlightened Few

As western civilization struggled during the post-renaissance era between choosing art, science and discovery over the church’s attempts to re-impose its authority in the form of the “Christian Reformation”, there were a few lesser known historical figures who helped shape western culture for the next few centuries. Faced with the prospective of having their imagination stymied, their curiosity arrested and their expression proscribed, the choice of socio/political direction was clear for a generation who defined themselves by their intellect. Christian rule? Hell no.

The church had their chance to govern, and for a thousand years humanity suffered needlessly, died young, and lived in fear, poverty and squalor. Today we refer to that period of history as “the Dark Ages.” Choosing to revert back to that after western civilization had the chance to experience progress would have been somewhat equivalent to returning to prison for a crime one never committed once they’d already experienced freedom. Thanks, but no thanks.

In what’s known today as the “Age of Enlightenment” –or the “Age of Reason”– there was a cultural movement of intellectuals whose purpose was to reform society using reason, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. Intellectuals such as Isaac Newton, Voltaire, and John Locke built upon the genius level contributions to humanity of the renaissance, and challenged ideas grounded in tradition, mythology and faith. They determined that societal precepts should be able to survive the test of scrutiny. To put it simply, truth should supersede superstition.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Enlightenment was a movement that hoped to undo the abuses of power by the church-run state by promoting factualism as arrived at through peer reviewed evidence. Folklore and unfounded beliefs promoted by the church were assaulted with skepticism, and as such were exposed as blatant falsehoods. It wasn’t enough to believe that demons caused illnesses when there were cures that needed to be found.

It was in the eighteenth century that the Enlightenment had reached the American colonies, and which eventually led to the founding of the United States of America. Men like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and James Madison –intellectuals all– recognized that when the church and state become one, the people suffer. Hence, they wrote the single greatest document in the history of civilization specifically disassociated from church authority… The United States Constitution.

The founders of our nation were men of the enlightenment.

Which leads us to today, and the rules of socio/economics mirroring those of physics, leading to the equal and opposite reaction to the force of enlightened reason. There is a concerted political effort at a re-imposition of church authority, and it goes by the name of Christian Dominionism. And it is as rooted in ignorance, greed, and lust for power at the expense of the populace as their medieval predecessors.

For the twenty first century Dominionist Christian, they hope to transform our nation back to a time when fear, intolerance and superstition governed our choices, and science was viewed as heresy. We see it today, with Dominionist politicians denying genetic biology (evolution), the origin of our species, the age of our planet, and even climate change. Dominionist Christians are replete within our legislative body (they help write our laws) and in the 2012 presidential election, ran several Dominionist candidates. One almost got the Republican nomination.

The thing is, it really takes a malevolent, psychotic derangement –at this point in history– to deny peer reviewed, scientific facts and evidence in favor of promoting superstition and fairy tales. However political Dominionists need to do this in order to create a fearful, ignorant –albeit fervent– voting base. The main difference between twelfth, and twenty-first century Christian fundamentalists is that the former had the luxury of scientific incomprehension, while the latter is burdened with contradictory scientific confirmation. Which means that the contemporary Dominionist has to outright lie to his or her constituency.

For example, the Dominionist conceptions for our nation needing to “return to” mosaic (biblical) law are based on the fundamental lie that is that our nation was founded on “Christian principles”. As if they –in the name of Christianity– claim ownership of basic morality (while simultaneously ignoring the founder’s departure from the church when forming the precepts of our nation). The truth is that the United States citizenry were never subject to mosaic law, or church authority in the first place.

The most glaring example of the founder’s intentions regarding the church place within our legislative process, is that there is no mention of God, Jesus, or Christianity anywhere in our constitution. So either our founders simply forgot –which is an absurd assumption– or they did not define their moral principles under Christian terms. Which might also explain why seven of the ten commandments are unconstitutional to enforce, while the three that remain –killing, stealing, lying under oath (bearing false witness)– are laws that have spanned millennia, culture, and religion.

These basic moral precepts are not Christian-only principles. In fact, virtually every civilized culture in history has had these very same laws. Still, Dominionist politicians blur the concept of “morality”, as they do science and history, to coincide with their socio/economic agenda. This might come as a shock to good Christian folks, but Jesus wasn’t the first character in literature to have determined that we should try not to be jerks to one another.

The truth is, that even the founders who did identify themselves as Christians understood the need for a separation of church and state. It was the oppression of the church in England which caused many of these intellectual giants to brave the Atlantic ocean and start life anew in the colonies in the first place. However despite these very researchable historical and scientific facts, there are many who revise history and science to coincide with their astigmatic, Dominionist Christian predispositions. After two hundred and fifty years of church/state separation, Christianity is being re-packaged as patriotism.

There is certainly a reason why we refer to the millennium of church rule as the dark ages, and the period of discovery from which this nation was born as the “Enlightenment”. One needs only to read a few history or science books. The struggle between Christian Dominionism and secularism is literally between willful ignorance and intellectual subjugation, versus sociological advancements in science, medicine, economics, and technology …Or as some might put it, Dark vs. Light.

Our great nation was founded by those who defied church authority, and chose the light.


About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on May 21, 2013, in Constitution, Religion, Socio/Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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