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We need a bigger world

The elite wanted a world without God and they got it. Andrew Sullivan argues that with the decline of traditional religions the godless world has embraced political cults.  They are finding the resulting world an uncongenial place.

Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society. ... This is why science cannot replace it. Science does not tell you how to live, or what life is about ...

So what happens when this religious rampart of the entire system is removed? I think what happens is illiberal politics. ... Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.

But Sullivan's timeline is wrong.  The death of God was announced more than a century ago, appropriately enough by Nietzsche's fictional madman.  He already foresaw the vacuum that would come.  "Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? ... God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him."

What replaced God in the 20th century was cult of man.  Nineteeen thirty nine was not only a time of fear but great expectation. Militant humanism in the late 1930s meant being either a Bolshevik or a Fascist for whom the battle for the future was at hand.  Which future depended on your point of view. Either the drang nach osten or the workers' paradise would fix everything as soon as all wrong people could be got out of the way.

Things got fixed alright, but not in the way the militants expected.  After WW2, a chastened humanity realized the kingdom of man was unattainable through force of arms, especially with the invention of the atomic bomb, and turned its attention to achieving its goals through global institutions instead. The traditional faiths would be allowed to wither away, driven back year by year by advancing secularism, until they were impotent.  Then the press would replace the pulpit; the academy would replace the monastery; and the State would substitute for God till the institutions collectively had all the attributes of divinity and decided who would live or die, who would be born or not born, who was man or woman, and even who belonged to what race.  It would rule on the very meaning of life itself until there was nothing beyond the competence of the world of man. John Lennon caught it in a nutshell.