America as the political wing of the Reformation

There is no question that Republicanism was in part an expression of the hopes and fears of native-born Protestants. As Benson points out, the Whig-Republican view that the state should have broad powers to regulate the economic life of the nation had important moral implications as well. Reform movements such as temperance and anti-slavery, which proposed to use state power to attack moral evils, appealed to New England Protestants because of their tradition of “moral stewardship,” what one historian calls their “zeal for making others act correctly.” According to Clifford S. Griffin, this attitude stemmed from the Calvinist tradition that there was a moral aristocracy on earth, whose duty it was to oversee the moral conduct of others and remove sin from the world. The Yankee followers of the Republican party felt this mission particularly threatened by the waves of immigrants, mostly Catholics, who poured into the country in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Moreover, as Will Herberg has observed, perhaps the only cement which has bound American Protestants together has been their fear and hatred of Rome. Many Republicans made it clear that they shared this traditional feeling and considered the United States a part of the world Protestant community. “American civilization,” said George William Curtis, “in its idea, is historically, the political aspect of the Reformation. America is a permanent protest against absolutism …” The Catholic Church to these Republicans represented tyranny, while Protestantism meant liberty. Anti-slavery, said the Massachusetts radical E.L. Pierce, was merely a reflection of the general principle of liberty and equal rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence. “It is the principle,” he continued, “which sustained the States of Holland, when they bade defiance to the tides of the ocean, the rage of the Inquisition, and the colonial power of Spain.” Similarly, John P. Hale and other Republicans opposed the annexation of Cuba not only on anti-slavery grounds, but because the Cuban population was largely Catholic and the American system of government could “only be maintained … on the principle of Protestant liberty.” For men like Hale, American democracy was not a historical accident — it sprang logically from the fact that the early settlers had been Anglo-Saxon Protestants. “The people made this government, and not the government the people,” wrote Charles Francis Adams, and he believed that an influx of a different people, schooled in the traditions of absolutism, would undermine American institutions.

Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War, pp. 227-8

Book review: The Mind of the Universe: Understanding Science and Religion by Mariano Artigas

On one extreme of the debate concerning science and religion today are those who mistake the stagnant and mechanistic view of the universe propagating by certain Enlightenment thinkers for the mainstream of Christian thought. On the other extreme are those who mistake the naturalistic methodology of modern science for a system of metaphysics. Both extremes, the creationists and the atheists/physicalists, ultimately undermine science itself. Each wants to reduce science to a state in which it cannot function and to undermine the two foundational pillars of Western Civilization: faith and reason.
In this book, Father Mariano Artigas sets the record straight, philosophically, historically, and theologically. He begins by giving us a tour of the history of science and where the ontological and epistemological presuppositions that underpin it emerged from. He moves on to demonstrating that without these presuppositions, which are being undermined by extreme movements within and around science, science itself must cease to exist as we know it and all scientific knowledge is undermined. Finally, he offers us a vision of a worldview that takes both science and religion, or physics and metaphysics, into account in a serious way and integrates the entirety of the human experience.
Throughout, Artigas is thorough in both his argumentation and his documentation. There is hardly a page in his book without references to some of the greatest thinkers of the modern era or of earlier periods, such as Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Aquinas, and Karl Popper. There is hardly an assertion put forward for which he does not provide a great deal of substantiating evidence and heavy argumentation.
Artigas’s book is a needed corrective both to those who posit an anti-scientific creationism and those who posit an overly scientific scientism. To the creationists, he shows that science is the natural outgrowth of Judeo-Christian thought and that its recent findings fit perfectly well in line with the traditional Christian view of the universe as evolutionary, emergent, and creative. To the scientistic naturalists, he demonstrates that such a view does not and cannot follow logically from science itself and even moves in opposition to the newest findings of scientific research. To all of us, he shows a vision of the universe as guided by a Great Mind with whom we must choose to come into communion and cooperation.
The Mind of the Universeis the best book that I have yet read on the subject of science and religion. It is thorough in its treatment of the topic and a must-read for all who are interested.