Harmful Enlightenment?


Was the movement commonly know as the Enlightenment the most harmful in terms of the loss of the religious nature of the world and the ease at which people started to subscribe to secular humanism as the acceptable default.


St John Paul II in Centesimus Annus, 13, 1991:
“The atheism of which we are speaking is also closely connected with the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which views human and social reality in a mechanistic way. Thus there is a denial of the supreme insight concerning man’s true greatness, his transcendence in respect to earthly realities, the contradiction in his heart between the desire for the fullness of what is good and his own inability to attain it and, above all, the need for salvation which results from this situation.”

The so-called “Enlightenment” was exposed for its degradation by St John Paul II:
“The rationalism of the Enlightenment put to one side the true God – in particular, God the Redeemer.

“The consequence was that man was supposed to live by reason alone, as if God did not exist…as if God were not interested in the world. The rationalism of the Enlightenment was able to accept a God outside of the world primarily because it was an unverifiable hypothesis. It was crucial, however, that such a God be expelled from the world.”
Crossing The Threshold Of Hope, St John Paul II, Random House Australia, 1994, p 53.]

Catholicism and Science
by Rodney Stark
(from Catalyst 9/2004)

Even in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the leading scientific figures were overwhelmingly devout Christians who believed it their duty to comprehend God’s handiwork. My studies show that the “Enlightenment” was conceived initially as a propaganda ploy by militant atheists attempting to claim credit for the rise of science. The falsehood that science required the defeat of religion was proclaimed by self-appointed cheerleaders like Voltaire, Diderot, and Gibbon, who themselves played no part in the scientific enterprise—a pattern that continues today. I find that through the centuries (including right up to the present day), professional scientists have remained about as religious as the rest of the population—and far more religious than their academic colleagues in the arts and social sciences.

It is the consensus among contemporary historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science that real science arose only once: in Europe. It is instructive that China, Islam, India, ancient Greece, and Rome all had a highly developed alchemy. But only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. By the same token, many societies developed elaborate systems of astrology, but only in Europe did astrology lead to astronomy. And these transformations took place at a time when folklore has it that a fanatical Christianity was imposing a general ignorance on Europe—the so-called Dark Ages.

The progress achieved during the “Dark Ages” was not merely technological. Medieval Europe excelled in philosophy and science. The term “Scientific Revolution” is in many ways as misleading as “Dark Ages.” Both were coined to discredit the medieval Church. The notion of a “Scientific Revolution” has been used to claim that science suddenly burst forth when a weakened Christianity could no longer prevent it, and as the recovery of classical learning made it possible. Both claims are as false as those concerning Columbus and the flat earth.

This piece is excerpted from a longer piece, “False Conflict: Christianity Is Not Only Compatible with Science—It Created It,” which appeared in the October-November 2003 issue of The American Enterprise. Reprinted with the author’s permission.


Yes, it also set back the rights of everyone who wasn’t a white male.


I agree, “yes.” But, I had to think for a half a minute why this might be true.

My education in natural law seems to have just begun. “I’m reading 50 questions about the natural law: What it is and why we need it” (by Charles Rice, prof of law at Notre Dame U) and he explicitly discusses the damage from the Enlightenment.

I’ve ordered a hard copy of this book because it’s hard to backtrack for his quote that applies in this thread.

Well,I found something.

"Eternal Law
Divine Law

Natural Law
Human Law

St. Aquinas integrates the natural and human laws with the eternal and the divine law. Enlightenment jurisprudence, by contrast, operates entirely below the line, even when it affirms a natural law, without reliance on God or his revelation. Secular and humanistic, it leaves man entirely on his own."

So, essentially the original posts “nails” the idea here.


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