Game of Gods:
The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-Enchantment
By Carl Teichrib
* The following is an excerpt from the first pages of chapter four.
The Temple of Man
Science is a religion, science alone will henceforth make the creeds, science alone can solve for men the eternal problems, the solution of which his nature imperatively demands. – E. Renan.
Yes, we are going to destroy everything, and on the ruins we will build our temple! – V.I. Lenin.
Christianity, “that infamous thing,” was to vanish in revolutionary fervor. Politicized Christendom would be overthrown by the enlightened masses who, armed with reason and guided by passion, were themselves led by men of conviction. Churches were vandalized, mounds of hymn books burned, and “ceremonies of mockery” witnessed priests denouncing their faith. Even the Gregorian calendar was dissolved, with its seven-day week replaced by a ten-day cycle dedicated to the veneration of nature. And as each month was structured with an even thirty days, the year would end with an extra five-day block set aside for humanist festivals.
Fraternity, liberty, and equality: The citizen’s Republic would replace the monarchy and aristocracy. Catholicism would be pushed out, not to be replaced by Protestantism – itself having been expelled years earlier – but with a devotion to rationalism, naturalism, and civic patriotism. France was “enlightened,” and the world would never be the same.
On November 10, 1793, this new faith was celebrated through the Festival of Liberty and Reason, held in the “liberated” and re-purposed Cathedral of Notre Dame. Yale professor Franklin Baumer described the spectacle,
[As the spectators] entered the cathedral, they saw, some doubtless with astonishment, the insignia of Christianity covered up and their place taken by the symbols of a strange new religion. Rising up in the nave was an improvised mountain, at the top of which perched a small Greek temple dedicated ‘To Philosophy’ and adorned on both sides by the busts of philosophers… Halfway down the side of the mountain a torch of Truth burned before an altar of Reason. Then ensued a bizarre ceremony which culminated in the emergence from the temple of a beautiful woman, an actress of the Paris Opera, dressed in red, white, and blue garments, who personified Liberty. The spectators proceeded to render homage to Liberty by stretching out their arms to her and singing a hymn… ‘Come, holy Liberty, inhabit this temple, Become the goddess of the French people.’
The liberty of Reason was costly. Heads rolled, for this was the Terror and the guillotines chopped daily. Paris was the epicenter of total transformation, and society’s evolution required a revolution to birth the New Man.
Long before the uprising, Renaissance voices like Pico and the Italian diplomat, Machiavelli – whose book, The Prince, illustrated a secular and amoral pragmatism – contributed to Enlightenment thinking. More immediate personalities such as Voltaire and Rousseau, England’s John Locke, Scotland’s David Hume and Prussia’s Immanuel Kant, had and were changing the way European intellectuals viewed the world. But if a starting line is to be drawn for the era of Modernity, the French Revolution is a logical choice.
The Paris uprising would become a beacon illuminating the path for future revolutionary experiments.
Prelude to Planning
Modernity is an umbrella label for an epoch that witnessed a number of movements and ideas expressing a similar outcome – the humanist progression of society, wherein authentic knowledge and meaning are discovered by naturalistic determination and not Christian revelation. In general, Modernity, often used interchangeably with Modernism, upheld humanist rationalism as the arbitrator of truth. Reason, therefore, proclaimed the goodness of Man over the Christian teaching of original sin, celebrated individual autonomy without moral guilt, worked through industry to harness the beast of nature, and looked to naturalism for social guidance. Man became the center of the universe.
Science, the testable exploration of creation – an honorable quest reflecting a Biblical worldview – became saddled with a naturalistic outlook: Nothing exists outside of Nature, and Man is the measure of all things.
Unlike Christendom during the Pre-modern era, lasting approximately 1500 years, the lifespan of Modernity was short, diminishing and morphing by the late 1960s. Granted, we still experience aspects of Modernity today just as we have carry-over from the previous period. There will always be fluidity and flux in the shifting of cultures and values, and Modernity’s impact was too profound to just drop away.
The trendsetters of Modernity were many. However, two French citizens, the teacher-student duo of Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte, deserve special mention. As the fathers of sociology, literally the science of society, their ideas formed the seedbed for the technically ordered and managed state – the planned society of collectivism and socialism.
In the planned society, economic and civic life are directed to achieving social targets: Equality, racial harmony, social justice, or the classless state. Assurances of peace and prosperity dangle before the toiling masses, for social and economic problems – so the promise goes – may be overcome by technically attuning community life through economic structuring, regulations, and social management.
It is true that in all nations and societies a certain measure of administrative planning is necessary, within limits. Today it is practically impossible to find a country that does not incorporate socialist elements. Differences in how this is arranged can be seen from place to place, and each nation’s history, social environment, and culture-of-elites plays a role in setting the tone. Nevertheless, there is an observable history of negative consequences.
With state socialism the difficult and honorable road of free enterprise is softened through group solutions, and the slower-to-come social benefits of capitalism are apparently accelerated through the promise of planning. But there are costs. Private property and the means of production are interfered with, including the ability to dispose of assets. In full state control of production, private ownership becomes moot – you are an owner in name only, at best. Socialism’s history of property management is abysmal.
The expense is not just the damage to private ownership in the name of the “general good,” nor the price tag for supporting larger government, but a host of important civilizing characteristics are ultimately devalued: Personal incentive and responsibility, ethics and morality, and the mindset of personal liberty – requirements for civilization to flourish. Each are eroded in time, representing hidden costs that, in a generation or two, exhibit themselves in social, civil, and economic decline.
Not surprisingly, the poor remain locked in poverty as society is gutted and property ownership displaced – slowly or quickly – for the “common good,” or the “public interest,” or the other “gods that collectivists worship.”
Organizing begets more organization, and expenses and complications arise, intensifying as “collective solutions” impede or nullify promised benefits. But the solution can only be more organization, for the centrally planned civilization assumes that the social organ is of higher value than the individual. It inherently declares the person to be made in its likeness. This becomes more troubling when the organizing party, the director, emotionally fuels the masses to encourage planned uniformity.
During Modernity and continuing today, such planning has been expressed as Progressivism, Socialism and Fascism, Communism, and Technocracy. Each are related, have variations, and are often in competition; the common thread is a technically driven collective ideal.
American Progressive, Stuart Chase, in comparing systems of central planning, favorably classified this trend as Leftism. One could call it a form of socio-political monism. It is the Positivism of Saint Simon and Auguste Comte applied to politics and social order.
Game of Gods is available on Amazon.
 Ernest Renan, The Future of Science (Chapman and Hall, 1891), pp.90-91.
 Quoted by Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Lenin (Simon and Schuster, 1964), p.419.
 Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989), pp.767-779.
 The Protestant Huguenots were driven out of France after being militarily defeated by the Catholic aristocracy. A nationally-stable Protestant base never took hold. Will and Ariel Durant write, “France bypassed the Reformation, and went directly from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.” Rousseau and Revolution (Simon and Schuster, 1967), p.881.
 Franklin L. Baumer, Religion and the Rise of Scepticism (Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1960), pp.35-36.
 Why not the American Revolution instead of the French? Professor J.L Talmon neatly compares: “The French Revolution compared with the American Revolution had been an event on quite a different plane. It had been a total revolution in the sense that it had left no sphere and no aspect of human existence untouched, whereas the American Revolution had been a purely political change-over.” Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (Frederick A. Praeger, 1960), p.27.
 Modernism is generally associated with the artistic and literary movements that correspond to Modernity.
 Stewart E. Kelly lays out a number of conditions in respect to Modernism. See his book, Truth Considered and Applied: Examining Postmodernism, History and Christian Faith (B&H Publishing Group, 2011).
 “The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.” – Psalm 111:2.
 Some scholars place Modernity’s end at the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and others position it at the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
 Works to consider in the study of economic systems: Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2007); Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (Basic Books, 2000); The Freedom Philosophy (Foundation for Economic Education, 1988); Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (The University of Chicago Press, 1962); Ludwig von Mises, Socialism (Liberty Fund, 1981); Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed – The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order (Transaction Publishers, 2001/2007). The Champions of Freedom series by Hillsdale College Press has a wealth of knowledge regarding associated topics.
 In socialist economies, the primary and largest welfare recipient is the government.
 Rarely is it recognized that cultural decline stems from collective endeavors. For by the time society experiences the hidden costs, the solutions are almost always couched in the need for more socialism. Occasionally governments see the futility of their previous collective actions and make corrective measures, but usually it takes a massive economic crisis – or a series of crises – to recognize the need for reform.
 For other “gods,” see Robert Formaini, “Laissez-Faire: Let Each Individual Choose,” Between Power and Liberty: Economics and the Law (Hillsdale College Press, 1998), p.103. To expand on the overall costs of socialism, see Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society (Basic Books, 201). See also, American Perestroika: The Demise of the Welfare State (Hillsdale College Press, 1995). On the issue of poverty and economics, see E. Calvin Beisner, Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001); D. Eric Schansberg, How Poor Government Policy Harms the Poor (WestView Press, 1996); Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Basic Books, 2006). See also, Ludwig von Mises, Socialism (Liberty Fund, 1981).
 A fantastic book on the growth and problems of the organizing principle is Haga’s Law: Why Nothing Works and No One Can Fix It and the More We Try the Worse It Gets, by William J. Haga and Nicholas Acocella (William Morrow and Company, 1980).
 See F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents (The University of Chicago Press, 2007, edited by Bruce Caldwell). Hayek’s consideration of a world federation at the end of his book is, I believe, misguided. He is correct in that an association or voluntary organization for international discussion is needed, but to grant it legislative and moral power to ensure “world peace” is problematic and potentially dangerous.
 Stuart Chase, A New Deal (The Macmillan Company, 1932), pp.154-155. Chase was not the first to have used the term, but as a leading Progressive and the intellectual father of America’s New Deal, his argumentation for it is of special importance.