Supplemental  Research  5







Ulrich von Hutten  (Jordan; Holborn; Best)








Renaissance of the German Humanists  (Spitz)








Culture of the High Renaissance  (Rowland)








Erasmus and the Humanists  (Hyma)








Protestant Reformation  (Spitz)








Luther and German Humanism  (Spitz)








Political Consequences of the Reformation  (Murray)








De Miseria Condicionis Humane  (Innocent III)








History of Modern Culture  (Smith)








Jesus Son of Man  (Augstein)








Curiosities of Literature  (Disraeli)








The Final Superstition  (Daleiden)









from:  Ulrich von Hutten [1488 – 1523], "Knight of the Order of Poets", by David Starr Jordan, President of Leland Stanford Jr. University, "Die Luft der Freibeit Webt", Boston, American Unitarian Association, 25 Beacon Street, "1910".





            For many of the details of the life of Hutten, and for most of the quotations from Hutten's writings given in this book, the writer is indebted to the excellent memoir by David Friedrich Strauss, entitled "Ulrich von Hutten."  (Fourth Edition:  Bonn, 1878.)  No attempt has been made to give here an account of Hutten's writings, only a few of the more noteworthy being mentioned.'



            '....The death of Hutten was, after all, not untimely.  He had done his work.  His was the "voice of one crying in the wilderness."  The head of John the Baptist lay on the charger before Jesus had fulfilled his mission [some Christian mythology].  Arnold Winkelried, at Sempach, filled his body with Austrian spears before the Austrian phalanx was broken.  John Brown fell at Harper's Ferry before a blow was struck against slavery.  Ulrich von Hutten had set every man, woman and child in Germany to thinking of his relations to the Lord and to the Pope.  His mission was completed; and longer life for him, as Strauss has suggested, might have led to discord among the Reformers themselves.


            For this lover of freedom [Hutten] was intolerant of intolerance.  For fine points of doctrine he had only contempt.  When the Lutherans began to treat as enemies all Reformers who did not with them subscribe to the Confession of Augsburg, Hutten's fiery pen would have repudiated this confession.  For he [Hutten] fought for freedom of the spirit, not for the Lutheran confession.


            Had he remained in Switzerland, he would have been still less in harmony with the prevailing conditions.  Not long after, Zwingli was slain in the wretched battle of Kappel, and, after him, the Swiss Reformation passed under the control of John Calvin.  There can be no doubt that the stern pietist [Calvin] of Geneva would have burned Ulrich von Hutten with as calm a conscience as he did Michael Servetus.


            The idea of a united and uniform Church, whether Catholic, Lutheran, or Calvinist, had little attraction for Hutten.  






He [HUTTEN] was one of the first to realize that religion is individual, not collective. 


It is concerned with life, not with creeds or ceremonies. 


In the high sense,


no man can follow or share the religion of another.  His religion, whatever it may be, is his own.  


It is built up from his own thoughts and prayers and actions.  It is the expression of his own ideals.  Only forms can be transferred unchanged from man to man, from generation to generation,—never realities.  For whatever is real to a man becomes part of him, and partakes of his growth, and is modified by his personality.


            Hutten was buried where he died, on the little island of Ufnau, in the Lake of Zurich, at the foot of the mighty Alps.  And some of his old associates put over his grave a commemorative stone.  Afterwards, the monks of the abbey of Einsiedeln, in Schwytz, came to the island and removed the stone, and obliterated all traces of the grave.


            It was well that they did so; for now the whole green island of Ufnau is his alone, and it is his worthy sepulcher.'  [40-42] [end of booklet].


_____     _____     _____






from:  Ulrich von Hutten [1488 – 1523] and the German Reformation, by Hajo Holborn, translated by Roland H. Bainton, Yale University Press, 1937.



"Behind the polemical writings composed in Italy against the Papacy and scholasticism, beyond the Epigrams to Crotus and the Letters of Obscure Men [1515 – 1517], was a man [Ulrich von Hutten] who expected by his words to incite deeds, because every intellectual apprehension carried with it a direct practical command.  He, too, knew the art of political concession.  For a while he could watch and wait whether Fortune would give her wheel a favorable turn, but he could not stay long in ambush.  His ideas would start to ferment before he could make correct observations.  He was impelled in part by a youthful swagger desirous of dazzling men by his recklessness, but this is not the whole explanation.  He had rather a superb and astounding contempt for obstacles and would have arrived somewhere had he first come to grips with reality.  His publication gives one the impression of native power of will and conscience, yet contemptuous and even oblivious of the actual state of affairs, as we have already indicated.  In the knightly romanticism, with which during his formative period he invested and quickened the humanism of Erasmus and of German patriotism, we see something of the incapacity of medieval culture to face squarely the hard facts of life.  Its Utopian aspirations overlooked the devil, who, in spite of all exorcism, insinuated himself into every spiritual endeavor.  The life of the knight from which Hutton came, from which he was never emancipated, offers examples in abundance.


            Eck later denounced Hutten before the Curia precisely on account of his Italian epigrams,15 and the Curia did well to be on its guard against the author of these incendiary utterances.  In comparison with Luther, who soon was to attract all eyes, Hutten's writings seemed calculated to disintegrate the Roman hierarchical system of the Middle Ages but not to bowl it over.  The spiritual residue of his pilgrimages was not comprehensive or potent enough to demolish the structure of centuries.  It remained to be seen how far during the struggle he would become aware of this, how far he would have the power to seek deeper spiritual sources.


            At any rate, a more aggressive tone was acquired through acquaintance with the exposure by Lorenzo Valla [c. 1406 – 1457] of the forged Donation of Constantine, which Hutten, on the point of returning to Germany, found at the house of Cochlaeus.16  Ulrich at once resolved to put out in Germany a new imprint of this Italian who so excelled his time in critical acumen and enlightenment.17  But something else, too, is recorded of Hutten's last days in Italy.  He might have taken ship from Venice with some cousins on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land had not Crotus laughed him out of it.18  There could not be a






better illustration of the dichotomy of his spiritual personality.  Who can fail to see how far the ideals of medieval piety and the ideals of a universal world order continued to influence him [Hutten]?


            The second Italian period was likewise disturbed and in a measure insecure.  In Rome he had a severe attack of that frightful disease [syphilis] which he had sought in vain to cure before leaving for Italy.


            He [Hutten] wanted to go to the baths of Tuscany, but in Viterbo he had a serious mishap.  In a quarrel with several Frenchmen he killed one of them...."  [80-81].


_____     _____     _____



from:  The Humanist Ulrich von Hutten, A Reappraisal of his Humor, Thomas W. Best, The University of North Carolina Press, 1969.





            The humor1 of the humanistic knight Ulrich von Hutten (1488–1523), who was one of the most satirical members of one of Germany's most satirical generations, has not been given adequate, accurate consideration.  Hutten has had great appeal in the past two-hundred years for students of the German Renaissance and Reformation.  He was an intriguing and pathetic figure, a tragic Don Quixote.  He has been one of Germany's most ardent patriots, admired by his country's nationalists from Herder's day to Hitler's.  If he failed to alter the course of the political history of his nation, he did influence the development of its literature.  For these reasons, and because his complete works have been easily accessible in an excellent edition,2 he has received a great deal of scholarly attention, but almost none of this attention has been concerned with his humor.  Albert Bauer has attempted to analyze Hutten's satire in comparison to Lucian's, but his discussion of the subject is imprecise,3 and those few who have broached the larger matter of Hutten's handling of the comic in general have contented themselves with a glib sentence or two, usually basing their remarks on his supposed contributions to the well-known satirical work of the day, the Epistolae obscurorum virorum [Letters of Obscure Men, 1515 – 1517] (to be referred to subsequently in this study as the Eov).  As we shall see, many of the letters in this satire which have been ascribed to Hutten may not have been written by him at all, making even more questionable those pronouncements on his humor which were promulgated largely in connection with the Eov."  [1].






            "Since Benzing sets as a terminus a quo ["earliest limiting point" ("a starting point or origin")] for the publication of Hutten's edition of De donatione Constantini September 1518,20 the work must have appeared in the autumn of the same year, so that a composition date for the preface of December 1, 1517, is not at all unlikely.  Until stronger evidence is presented against it, the original date must stand.  This date strengthens the likelihood of sincerity in the preface by placing it in the period of Hutten's entrance into service with the archbishop of Mainz, at the time when Hutten was otherwise writing very positively of Leo, as well.


            Instead of supporting the generally accepted thesis that he [Hutten] very early became a bitter foe of Leo X, the available evidence indicates rather that Hutten did not do so before the middle of 1519.  How conclusive we find much of this evidence depends, to be sure, on how willing we are to take him at his word, but the burden of proof lies with those who are not willing to do so.  At any rate, since it is questionable that Hutten wrote the preface to his edition of De donatione Constantini as irony, the work should not be used to document any view of his satire."  [82] [end of text].


l l l l l







from:  The Religious Renaissance of the German Humanists, Lewis W. Spitz [1922 – 1999], Harvard University Press, 1963. 





            'Erasmus, the prince of the humanists, presided regally over the German humanists, but he himself carried the ecclesiastical and religious humanist reform program to its fullest development.  The question naturally arises as to whether the religious thought of the German humanists was Erasmian in a derivative or an analogous sense.  To do Erasmus justice requires digesting mountains of scholarly material on him and epitomizing briefly the results of thousands of monograph pages, in addition to analyzing his own tremendous works.  His position in humanism and toward the Reformation cut across nearly all the problems in which the lesser humanists were involved. 


Luther was not fond of Erasmus personally.  "He is as slippery as an eel," he once commented, "only Christ can catch him."  [outstanding comment by Luther] [see 444, 458]


But even after their famous exchange, Luther had such a high regard for the mind of Erasmus that he continued to read his works.  His philosophia Christi is an excellent summary of some of the major ingredients of the humanists' religious thought and ecclesiastical reform programs.


            The question of Luther and humanism is a microcosm of the larger question of the relation of the Reformation to the Renaissance which has agitated thinkers from Nietzsche and Troeltsch down to the present time.  Luther becomes, then, the essential terminal point for this study of representative figures of the high generation of German humanism.  His own association with the humanists and with their cause and conversely their identification with his involves the larger problem of the validity of Christian humanism in the light of the new evangelical insight.


            It is now time to meet the leading German humanists in person....'  [19].








HUTTEN [Ulrich von Hutten 1488 – 1523]


Militant Critic


            The year 1521 was tense with crisis.  All eyes were turned toward the Diet at Worms where Luther [1483 – 1546] made his courageous stand in what J.A. Froude [see 367] described as "perhaps the finest scene in human history."  Germany was alive with excitement.  Above the tumult rose a persistent, strident voice, heard often before, but soon to be hard no more—the voice of Ulrich von Hutten, German knight.  He had called to Luther:  "Long live liberty!"  Now the die was cast.  Hutten would not turn back, though church and empire conspired to crush him.  That year he [Hutten] penned these words:


                                    With open eyes I've dared it

                                    And do not feel regret.

                                    Though I should fail to conquer

                                    True faith is with me yet.


            Here indeed was a romantic figure [Ulrich von Hutten] raised on the shoulders of Uhland, Herder, Wieland, and Goethe to the stature of a national hero!  Freedom was all to this tempestuous, restless, daring young man—free learning, free Fatherland.  The weapons he chose for battle were sword and pen.  Mutian characterized him as "sharp and vehement and a great poet, but such that he can be irritated by the slightest word."1'  ["110"].



'Hutten was committed emotionally to Luther's cause without ever really understanding its essence.  On April 17, 1521, Hutten wrote to "the most invincible friend of the gospel" to fight strenuously for Christ, and not to give way to evils, but to go against them more daringly.  Luther thanked him for the letter, and on April 20, Hutten wrote a second letter declaring his faith that Luther would remain Luther.70  Hutten wrote to Pirckheimer describing the unfairness of the trial at Worms, where Luther was given only one choice.71  But for all his enthusiasm for the reformer, Hutten remained vaguely aware of the difference between them.


            In the first of the letters which Hutten wrote to Luther during the opening session of the Diet of Worms, he gave the classic expression to this difference:  "We have, to be sure, different thoughts, for mine are human, but you, more perfect, already live entirely for things divine."72  Hutten felt that in a certain sense he never was a Lutheran at all.  In the Expostulatio Hutten explained that,






though he considered himself an independent, free of party affiliation, he allowed himself to be called a Lutheran on the strength of the fact that he fought the Roman tyranny.73  "I admire Luther's spirit," he wrote, "and his incomparable power in interpreting the secrets of Scripture, but Luther has been neither my teacher nor my comrade."74  It was symbolic that Hutten rode off to join Sickingen and not Luther in his war against tyranny.


            Luther appreciated Hutten's writings in his behalf and his poems which were not calculated to please Babylon.75  But Luther could not condone Hutten's appeal to the sword as the final argument.  On January 16, 1521, Luther wrote to Spalatin:  "You see what Hutten wishes.  But I do not desire to do battle for the gospel with violence and murder and I wrote him as much.  Through the power of the Word the world is conquered, through the power of the Word the church has been created—and through the Word it will also be restored."76  Erasmus was all too right when in his Spongia he sneered that some Lutherans, like Hutten, had nothing of Luther about them except that they maligned the Roman pontiff.77  Hutten stood primarily for the outward freedom of the German man rather than like Luther for the inner liberty of the Christian man.  His was the liberty for which Arminius fought, freedom from the new Roman imperium.  Yet to his final days Hutten acclaimed Luther a hero of the Word, a prophet who gathers a following of the best men, a priest who is one with the Word he preaches.'  [124-125].



            "Hutten was basically a romantic, imperialist, political propagandist, not a rationalistic liberal humanist.  His social thinking was contained entirely with traditional concepts of the corpus christianum, and his basic criticisms of the church stemmed from his belief that the Curia and its minions had encroached on the Emperor's prerogatives and those of his imperial knights and had violated the ancient liberties of the empire.89  He conceived his historical mission to be the restoration of the right order of things.  Seeing Hutten in this light resolves many perplexing problems with regard to his ambiguous relation to humanism and the Reformation.


            For Hutten the belles-lettres even of the classic authors were not an end in themselves.  Rather they were an instrument for the cultural and political rejuvenation of the empire....


            As a militant critic Hutten was a pioneer and ally of the Reformation.  If the now-dated view of the Reformation as primarily an attack on ecclesiastical abuses still prevailed, Hutten would rightly be considered one of the reformers.  But Hutten did not understand the basic religious impulse of Luther's movement.  To him the Reformation was but an ally in a program dictated by his own class






status and personal bent.  This is why he did not view with alarm the overshadowing of the renaissance of learning by the revival in religion.  For him both movements served the same end.  A controversial figure in a polemical age, he demonstrated to perfection that the conservative and traditionalist when he assumes the offensive may upset the world more than the self-conscious radical.


            How ironic that in the end he [Hutten] was driven from the very empire for which he had dared all!  Befriended by Zwingli, he sought refuge on the island of Ufenau in Lake Zurich.  There he died in August 1523, of the same dread disease which had claimed the life of his foe, Julius II, the Aztec's revenge [here, syphilis [see 770-771].  The origin(s) of syphilis is much discussed. 


A common ailment, to the present, "Montezuma's revenge", a miserable form of diarrhea, with which my body has had personal experiences:  in Mexico City; Guanajuato; Mulege, and, Tijuana, Baja California; and, far reaching, from a fruit stand just yards below the famous statue of Christ (Cristo Redentor), Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (papaya juice!  Some would consider that near medical emergency experience—Christ's Revenge!).  The other severe miseries, I have forgotten].90 


He [Ulrich von Hutten] was then only thirty-five and when he died his pen was his only possession.  Even the sword of this brave miles Christianus was gone."  [128-129] [end of chapter VI].





PIRCKHEIMER [Willibald Pirckheimer 1470 – 1530]


Speculative Patrician"  ["155"]


            'Right on the market place, opposite the "Schöner Brunnen," in the heart of the city [Nuremberg] stood his [Pirckheimer] magnificent patrician house.  It was, as Celtis put it, a hospice for erudite men.  At his table dined many leading figures of the day [compare:  Baron d' Holbach 1723 – 1789, and his dinner parties, which "at first…were modeled on the parties he attended at Leyden."  ("Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy" (online))]—Luther, Melanchthon, Celtis, Hutten, Regiomontanus, Galeazzo di San Severino, Leonardo da Vinci's sponsor in Milan, and others.  The list of his correspondents reads like a dictionary of Renaissance scholars, or like the index of Trithemius' De viris illustribus, and includes such names as Erasmus, Spalatin, Beatus Rhenanus, David de Marchello, Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, and Zwingli.  Pirckheimer stalked books like a hunter and






had as his game room one of the best libraries of the time, partly inherited, collected from churches and monasteries, gifts and inheritances from friends, and purchases from the book fairs.  It included especially many Aldine Greek editions,4 so that in 1504 Pirckheimer could with some plausibility boast of owning all the Greek books printed in Italy.  Pirckheimer was a literary arbiter, indefatigable translator, and a patron par excellence.5'  [156]. 





ERASMUS [Desiderius Erasmus c. 1466 – 1536]


Philosopher of Christ


            Erasmus as the prince of the Northern humanists was titular head also of German humanism.  He did not wish to be identified with any national group, for, he wrote to Zwingli, "I desire to be a citizen of the world, common to all, or rather, a stranger to all."1  To a Brabant countryman he once repeated Cicero's words:  "Where you fare well, there is your fatherland."  In 1520 he replied to Peter Manius, who had urged him to declare openly that he was a German and not a Frenchman so that Germany might not be deprived of this great glory, that it seemed to him to make little difference where a man is born.  It is a vain sort of glorification, he felt, when a city or nation boasts of producing a man who has become great through his own exertions and not by the help of his fatherland.  For the country which has made him great has a better right to boast than that which brought him forth.2  ....'  ["197"].



            'The story of Erasmus is so common that, to turn a phrase from Chaucer, every wit that hath discretion knows all or part of it.  And yet Erasmus remains elusive, a proteus, a man of a hundred faces.6  Immortalized by Holbein, Quentin Metsys, and Dürer, he looks out from the canvas with an enigmatic half-smile, an expression suggesting the complications of his personality (figure 10).  Small wonder that straightforward Frederick of Saxony commented that this was an amazing little man, for one never knows where one stands with [Erasmus] him.  He was gifted with a quick and ready wit, with unusual charm and brilliance.  For all his correspondence and superficial gregariousness, he [Erasmus] was a lonely monarch who gave of himself without reservations to no one.  He was no confessor, no fighter, no great man.  He abhorred disturbances to the point of appearing to many contemporaries to be a timorous neuter.  He was a valetudinarian, loving good living and creature comforts, petulant, querulous, flattering, deceptive, and vindictive.  He saw his own weakness and feared that in






case of a conflict he would like Peter deny his friends.  He could speak almost disinterestedly of the tragic deaths of his friends Fisher and More.  "Not all have sufficient strength for martyrdom," he confided.  In a call for world missions in 1535 he expressed the wish that God would have given to him the spirit of martyrdom.  But such dedication and courage were never granted to him.


            Erasmus justified his lack of a heroic spirit with the comment that there have been many martyrs in Christendom but only a few scholars.  Erasmus was primarily precisely that, a scholar.  He was not a historian, a philosopher, a scientist, a painter, or a musician.  He was not a discoverer, one of those Renaissance men like Columbus, Copernicus, or Vesalius who achieved a break-through to a new world, but he was a scholar in temperament and calling, editing and writing with a phenomenal ascetic capacity for long, hard work.  He frequently worked hurriedly, standing on one foot, as he once put it.  In the Colloquies he referred to himself as one of those prolific writers who never ceased to make war with the pen.  He [Erasmus] successfully evaded all practical responsibility in church and state in order to be free for his books.  He lived in his study and died in his bed.7'  [198-199].



            'Erasmus' attitude toward the papacy provides a clear-cut example of his consistency within ambivalence.  For Erasmus the papacy incorporated the essence of the church, and yet he reserved some of his most savage thrusts for the popes.  As spiritual shepherd the pope was above all mortals, possessing heavenly authority.23  His attacks on the papacy were consistently leveled against individual popes, usually in their secular, political, or military capacity, their theatrical splendor and wastefulness.  At the same time he stressed obedience to the pope as ecclesiastical head and as capstone of the hierarchy.24  The church was for him itself the communion of believers who agree in faith in the gospel, who honor the one Father, who found their whole trust in his Son, and who are led by the Holy Spirit himself.25  Since the church is embodied in the papacy, whoever does not recognize the pope stands outside the church.26  Erasmus complained most bitterly against the pope for stirring up war between the Christian princes instead of acting as peacemaker.27  But worst of all were the popes who themselves made war and in this none compared with Julius II.  "The highest pontiff Julius wages war," Erasmus once reported in words reminiscent of Hutten, having seen his triumphal entry into Bologna, "he conquers, triumphs, and acts entirely like Julius [Caesar]."28  Erasmus held that terms like Apostle, shepherd, bishop, abbot, pope, were concepts of a holy office, not of secular overlordship, the title for an office of Christian faith and love, not for earthly power and might.29'  [205].






            'The Reformation was an intense personal tragedy for Erasmus.  At the height of his fame when Luther appeared on the scene, Erasmus suddenly found himself caught in the middle like the man, he said, who in trying to separate two gladiators met his death.  "I am a heretic to both sides," he [Erasmus] lamented.  He would sooner have remained a spectator.  The combat and general disturbance of the conflict pained him, although had he lived to see the evangelicals build an orderly and well-regulated church life in the decades after the decisive battles, he might have felt differently.117  Erasmus had contributed much to the Reformation, as both friend and foe knew very well.  His criticisms of abuse, his stress on going to the sources, his Biblical and patristic scholarship, and his spiritualism as opposed to formalism were all positive contributions.  Even after Erasmus took his stand against Luther, he refused to condemn him on all counts and continued to duel as fiercely with such Catholic foes as Zuñiga, Aleander, Alberto Pio, Lee, Latomus, and Bedda as with the reformers.  Luther, in turn, continued to buy and read Erasmus' books long after their formal break.'  [230-231].





LUTHER [Martin Luther 1483 – 1546]


The Reformer"  ["237"]


'Through many of Luther's exclamations in which he calls for a renewal of learning rings the tone of cultural nationalism familiar from Wimpfeling, Celtis, Hutten, and Pirckheimer.


                        [Luther] We have unfortunately rotted and spoiled long enough in darkness.  We have been German brutes far too long.  Let us for once use our reason so that God notices our thankfulness for his good gifts and so that other countries see that we are also human beings and people who can either learn something from them or can teach them, so that the world is improved also through us!17


            Luther believed that human culture of the highest literary and artistic quality existed by its own right as part of the order of creation.  [243].



 "Luther asserted that Cicero, the darling of the humanists, was invincibly ignorant about God [Cicero wrote:  On the Nature of the Gods (De Natura Deorum)].  To be sure he [Cicero] knew everything that natural reason and






human powers could assemble, but he was ignorant of what God wills and of his feelings toward us men.  Reason is ignorant of this unless enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the Word.22  Human culture does not make men true man as Christ was true man, without sin and spiritually alive to God.  As a matter of value judgment Luther gave priority to the work of the Spiritus Sanctus over human ingenium, to stammering religious truth over shining human eloquence, to Christian faith over antique learning.23"  [244-245].  [Luther (and this author (Lewis W. Spitz))—preaching Christianism ("Christianity")!  Much crap!].



'Luther shared with the humanists a high regard for and even a fascination with languages.  Medieval man had held language to be a special divine gift and the humanists had been enthusiastic over the power of the classical languages to unlock arcane meanings of the texts.  For Luther the utility of languages was functional and not[?] substantive[?].  He [Luther] expressed his views on this subject in one of his Table Talks [tischreden] in this way:


            [Luther] Are the instruments of the arts and of nature useful to the theologian?  One knife cuts better than another.  Thus good tools, such as languages and the arts, can teach more clearly.  Now many, like Erasmus, have the arts and languages, and, nevertheless, err most perniciously...  But the thing must be distinguished from its abuse...  It is the same tongue before faith and after faith, and language insofar as it is language does not help faith, but nevertheless it serves it when the heart is enlightened.  Thus reason also serves faith in that it reflects on a thing, how it has been illuminated.38'  [253].



'Luther made use of the humanists' philological techniques, their textual discoveries, and their linguistic and grammatical works.  One finds in his New Testament commentaries phrases like, "as Erasmus correctly translates."  It is well known that he used Lefèvre d' Étaples' glosses on the Psalms and Epistles, that he changed in the middle of his lectures on Romans to Erasmus' Novum Testamentum for a Greek text, and that as a man of almost supreme linguistic ability he mastered Greek and became a respectable student of Hebrew in order to facilitate his translations and exegesis.  His knowledge of Hebrew, made possible by the pioneer work of Pellican, Reuchlin, and Jewish scholars such as David Kimchi and Moses Kimhi, enabled him to work effectively with the Old Testament and also to recognize the Hebraisms in the New.42  Like the humanists he heaped scorn on the Quadriga, as a typical passage from his [Luther's] second commentary on Galatians (1535) illustrates:







            [Luther] The idle and unlearned monks and the school doctors deemed...that the Scripture has four senses:  the literal sense, the moral sense, the allegorical sense, and the mystical sense [["Quadriga" (usage?):] Literalem, Tropologicum, Allegoricum, et Anagogicum]; and according to these senses they have foolishly interpreted almost all the words of the Scriptures—as:  this word "Jerusalem" literally signified that city which was so named:  morally a pure conscience:  allegorically the church militant:  mystically the celestial city or the Church triumphant.  With these trifling and foolish fables they rent the Scriptures into so many and diverse senses, that silly poor consciences could receive no doctrine at all.43


            Like Erasmus and the medieval tradition Luther held that a doctrine or a controverted point cannot be proved by allegory.  But it goes without saying that those Old Testament passages given an allegorical interpretation in the New Testament were to be understood in both the literal and the allegorical sense....'  [255].  [serious stuffing, for Mental Horror Vacui (see, 2896-2938)].



'Because he [Luther] was a full-time and professional exegete with vastly greater influence in this field than any of the German humanists and because he pressed for the historical and literal interpretation as a basis for theological exegesis, Luther more than Wimpfeling, Reuchlin, or even Erasmus deserves the title "father of modern exegesis."'  [257].



'through his German Bible Luther gave new impetus to the rising ascendancy of the middle and north German vocabulary and accent which created the language of modern German literature.  Friedrich Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil acknowledges that "Luther's Bible was the best German book up to then."  It was an achievement of unparalleled importance in German literary history.'  [262].



            'Painting and sculpturing were adversely affected by the Reformation, since the incentive to erect sacred statues and the employment of artists for scenes from the lives of the saints disappeared.  The literary humanists from Erasmus on down had showed a peculiar indifference to the grat glories of Renaissance art.  Luther fits into this general pattern, but more because of his preoccupation with theology than with classical or early Christian literary remains, as was true in the case of he humanists.  Luther supported the move characteristic of painting from Giotto on away from the Byzantine etherealization






of the Virgin Mary, commenting that to portray the Virgin as completely noble detracted from the reality of the contrast between the glory which Christ left and the lowly unworthiness to which he came.  He was opposed to elaborateness and gaudiness for "in human weakness and nothingness God's power is particularly revealed."  he once remarked that he wished he could paint on all the houses in Wittenberg "pictures from the Word of God which would help men realize what God has done for us in Christ."  He believed that religious paintings are not a kind of fetish or superstition, but rather symbols and a means of proclamation, praise, and thanks through which the church communicates its message to the viewer.  Luther appreciated the work of the two Cranachs, of Hans Baldung Grien, and especially of Dürer's better students, to do the illustrations for his translation of the Bible.'  [262].



"The great body of German Protestant church music owes its being to Luther's love of music and his remarkably high standards."  [263].



'In his early theological lectures Luther, too, drew heavily upon patristic exegesis.  But later he wrote of the church fathers:  "As many as there were, all of them failed either to observe or thoroughly and correctly to understand the kingdom of grace through Christ."62'  [256-266].



            'In his great play Agamemnon, Aeschylus wrote this classic line, "Suffering is the road to learning; learning comes only through suffering; if you want to learn you have to suffer in order to do your learning."  Luther experienced the bitter truth of those words in the course of his soul struggle, but the religious lesson that he learned was to let God be God, and that His mercy endures forever.  He learned a lesson regarding man which he once expressed with epigrammatic force in a letter to Spalatin, June 30, 1530:  "We should be men and not God.  That is the sum of it."  For those contemporary German humanists who lacked what Kierkegaard was later to call "a certain strenuousness of mental and moral effort," he had only disdain.  The nation, and particularly the men of the younger generation, followed Luther, for he sounded a more certain trumpet.  The words which Bugenhagen, a man of no mean classical learning, spoke over Luther's dead body reflected his conviction that there lay not just a professor, a scholar, or humanist, but a prophet:  "He [Martin Luther] was without doubt that angel of God of which the Apocalypse speaks in chapter fourteen—flying in midheaven with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth... 

This angel said 'Fear God and give him glory!' 






Those are the two parts of Dr. Martin Luther's teaching, the law and the gospel, through which all of Scriptures are opened up and Christ is known as our righteousness and eternal life."'  [266] [end of chapter X].  [my (LS) reaction?  More!—anthropology!].







            "A man will," Dr. Johnson [Samuel Johnson 1709 – 1784] remarked, "turn over half a library to make one book."  The publications, personal correspondence, and private papers of the humanists have provided some insight into their religious mentality and reform programs.  It remains now to step back and to ask the right general questions about the meaning of all this.  The once heatedly debated issue of the Renaissance as Christian[later pagan] or pagan, never really relevant to the Northern scene, obviously has no meaning at all for German humanism.  The [These] humanists were all Christians, in their way, pious, and all had Christian deaths and burials.  The two who died without benefit of clergy, Pirckheimer and Erasmus, did not do so by choice but of necessity.  The most important questions for religious history are much more difficult to pose.  This is necessarily so, for these men lived in a time of tremendous intellectual and spiritual as well as economic and social change.  Theirs was a land alive with movements of religious protest and reform.  Theirs  was a day which first brought to light the tensions between the classical and Christian components of their culture.  Theirs [Christian humanists] was a generation brimming with vitality and creativity, yet tormented and tentative.


            The German historian Georg von Below [1858 – 1927] remarked that he believed more had been written on the causes of the Reformation than on the Reformation itself.  The question of the origins of the so-called Northern Renaissance has also intrigued historians and has provoked an extensive literature.  This study of the leading German humanists sheds additional light upon the more limited problem of the origins of German humanism....'  ["267"].


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from:  The Culture of the High Renaissance, Ancients and Moderns, In Sixteenth-Century Rome, Ingrid D. Rowland, Cambridge University Press, 1999 (1998).




[È] sempre suto non altrimenti periculoso trovare modi ed ordini nuovi che si fusse cercare acque e terre incognite.


It has always been just as dangerous to find new ways and orders of doing things as to go in search of new lands and seas.


                                                            Machiavelli [1469 – 1527], Preface to

                                                            Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius



Paradoxically, Italy's jolt into the modern era began with a long, penetrating look into the past.  The fifteenth- and sixteenth-century thinkers who hailed a rebirth of ancient values in their own time did so knowing that their own era was irrevocably distinct from antiquity; indeed, all but the most fanatical wanted their Renaissance to stay in the heady realms of fiction.  For the world that generated the antiquarian movement known as "humanism" was a world of rapidly developing commerce, commerce that depended absolutely on modern inventions, modern navigation, and modern mathematics.  At the same time, the shapers of that modern world also felt the need to have it incorporate the best elements of their forebears' existence.  With a rationality born perhaps of commercial training, they probed the past for its systems, what they called "modi e ordini" (ways and orders) or "ragione" (method), hoping to recover the abstract principles that would give their own achievements enduring value.  Nowhere was this paradoxical search for higher principles more intense than in papal Rome.  The suggestive atmosphere of the city, with its endless layers of civilization, inspired the officials of the late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century papacy, self-consciously charged with carrying out God's mission on earth, to believe that in their lifetimes for once humanity could muster the political means, the historical wisdom, and the living talent necessary to create "new ways and orders" of lasting validity, enfolding the best of all that had gone before in a truly catholic embrace.


            This is the story of that concerted attempt to derive a new order for the future from scrutiny of the past.  The search for systems was not itself systematic, nor did the seekers share the same idea of their goal.  It was a fiction, after all, often a personal fiction.  Nonetheless, a common theme unites many of the disparate activities that went into the creation of Renaissance






Rome.  And the paradoxical quest for a new order, by its very oxymoronic challenge, invited ingenious responses.


            On occasion—most notably, perhaps, in the visual arts—this utopian project actually succeeded, producing such expressive innovations as the conscious gradations of style (modi) that appear in the painting of Raphael and Michelangelo, and the "orders" of classical architecture, devised in antiquity but first described as orders in sixteenth-century Rome.  Yet the same search for new ways and orders also made itself felt in the world of finance, as when banker Agostino Chigi tried, like a nineteenth-century industrialist, to establish an international economic monopoly on a single commodity.  Chigi's vision took form because at the same time his pope, Julius II, was working toward another international goal:  asserting a universal church that would far exceed the ancient Roman empire in scope.  Indeed, Julius II was the pope who felt the synthetic drive of his epoch more powerfully than any other; the papacy of his successor Leo X provided some reflective respite from the momentum of Julius's headlong pontificate, but it also began to reveal the fragility inherent in any synthesis of old and new.'  [1-2].



            'It was the friends of the Neapolitan Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, who foregathered in his house on Piazza Navona, who first began to dress a battered old Roman statue group of heroes from Homer's Iliad—a noseless Menelaus holding the headless, limbless trunk of the dead Patroclus—in fanciful costume on Saint Mark's Day, praising this singular apparition in verse as "Mastro Pasquino" and giving rise to a still unbroken tradition of social commentary, the pasquinade (Fig. 5 [see below]), a poetic form in which the statue himself speaks his mind in verse on events of the day.55 [see "Notes", 530]  In 1501, Cardinal Carafa enshrined the talking statue on a pedestal, the better to display his costumes and the cranky poems affixed to his raddled [for simplicity:  worn] surface at every opportunity.  The cardinal's house is gone, but Pasquino continues to pique Roman consciences; he spent much of the 1980s with a spray-painted feminist graffito on his pedestal that read "Pasquina."'  [28-29].


"Figure 5.  Pasquino.  Engraving by Antoine Lafréry [1550].  Courtesy of the University of Chicago Libraries."  [after page 146].





Michelangelo finally succumbed to the pope's [Julius II] persuasion in 1508.  He was to finish, with a bad crick in his neck and a frazzled temper, in 1512.64  






Like Pinturicchio's frescoes for the Borgia Apartments, and like the earlier fresco cycle commissioned by Sixtus IV for the Sistine Chapel walls, the Sistine Chapel ceiling used visual images to set the Church within the scheme of universal history, but the difference in scale between Michelangelo's work and that of his forerunners was epochal.  The Sistine Chapel walls, which had surely been conceived in the 1480s according to a plan devised by Pope Sixtus himself, traced parallel lives of Moses and Christ, showing how every aspect of the life of Moses among the Egyptians and Hebrews prefigured some aspect of the life of Christ and the Church.65  The finding of Moses in the bulrushes prefigured the Nativity; Christ's baptism was prefigured by the circumcision of Moses' son; and, most emphatically for the whole scheme, Moses' handing down the Law foreshadowed Christ's handing over the keys of authority to Saint Peter."  [160].





An earlier barbarian visitor to Rome had been equally disconcerted by the dream world in which the Curia seemed to pass much of its time.  Erasmus of Rotterdam passed through Rome in 1507, where he made some good friends, including Fedro Inghirami, and received some very bad impressions.  He complained about a sermon that sounded more like an oration at a pagan sacrifice than part of a Christian liturgy, and he was appalled at Julius's militancy.  When the pope died, Erasmus wrote a bitterly funny dialogue called Julius exclusus de caelo (Julius shut out of heaven [see 377-383, 528-529]), in which the pope storms the Pearly Gates in clanking armor and wonders why Saint Peter refuses to let him in:


Julius:            My bile's boiling.  I'll knock on the gates.  Hey!  Hey!  Someone open up this portal.  What's going on?  No one's shown up?


Peter:             It's a good thing we have a gate of adamant ["extremely hard substance"], otherwise, he would have broken it, whatever he is...maybe a giant?  a satrap?  a sacker of cities!  But, O, immortal gods, what sewer do I smell here?  I won't open the gates just yet, but I'll look out of this barred window and see what kind of a monster it is.  Who are you?  What do you want?  ...Tell me who you are.


            J:                    As if you couldn't tell.


            P:                    Tell?  I see a sight never before seen, not to say a monster!






J:            Quit this nattering, if you know what's good for you...In case you didn't know, I'm Julius the Ligurian, and unless I'm mistaken, you're familiar with the two letters P.M.


            P:                    I'll bet they mean Pestiferus Maximus.


            J:                    No!  Pontifex Maximus!


P:                    You're like a great king, greater than Thrice Great Hermes, but you're not getting in here; the place is holy.


J:                    So you won't open up?


P:                    I'd rather open to anyone but such a pest as you.  But do you want some good advice?  You have a handful of strong men and a heap of money.  You're a good builder.  Make yourself a new paradise, but fortify it well so the devils don't take it.7


            Erasmus's response to the Parnassian reveries of the circle around Leo X and Pietro Bembo was still more savagely comic; his dialogue called "The Ciceronian" (Ciceronianus) was published in 1525, a vicious parody of the epistolary exchange between Gianfrancesco Pico and Pietro Bembo on imitation.  The letters had been made widely available in print with Johann Frobenius's Basel edition of 1518 and may have been available in manuscript still earlier; Erasmus certainly composed his dialogue after having read them carefully.8  He also drew, with still more evident feeling, on his own memories of life in Rome:  "I will report...what I heard with these ears; what I saw with these eyes."


            Predictably, however, the most savage of all the parodists of Leonine Rome was no remote observer like Erasmus but a character who could usually be found plunged into the thick of the city's activity, a man who served for three years as Agostino Chigi's Tuscan houseboy, Pietro Aretino (1492–1556).9  He came into Chigi's service in 1517, already gifted with a sharp tongue and a ready pen, gifts that found ample encouragement in the magnate's Viridario [Italian.  Latin:  viridarium:  "pleasure-garden or green court of an ancient Roman villa or palace" (O.E.D.)]; so did Aretino's propensity for outrageous sexual humor.  Despite his genuine affection for Chigi, Aretino came into Rome as part of a diffident new generation, one too young to have been affected either by Julius II's apostolic zeal or by the more muted energy generated during the first years of Leo X.  Aretino had a rare nose for decadence, and the later years of Leonine [Leo X] Rome offered it in abundance.'  [247-248].






"["Notes"] 55   For the statue of Pasquino, see Cesare D'Onofrio, Un Popolo di statue racconta storie fatti leggende della città di Roma antica medievale moderna (Rome:  Romana Società Editrice, 1990), 27–43.  A lively collection of sixteenth-century pasquinades is to be found in Antonio Marzo, ed., Pasquino e dintorni (Rome:  Salerno, 1990).  See also V. Marucci, A. Marso, and A. Romano, Pasquinate romane del Cinquecento (Rome:  Salerno, 1983); Giovanni Antonio Cesareo, Pasquino e pasquinate della Roma di Leone X [see 258], Miscellanea della Reale Deputazione Romana di Storia Patria, no. 11 (Rome:  Reale Deputazione Romana di Storia Patria, 1938)."  [262].


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from:  Erasmus and the Humanists, Albert Hyma, University of Michigan, F.S. Crofts, 1930.



"Historical Introduction" [1]


            'Erasmus spoke in the year 1515 as hundreds of well-known churchmen have spoken in the twentieth century.  In his opinion it mattered little whether the miracles recorded in the Bible had actually happened or not.  As for the doctrines of transubstantiation, of purgatory, and of justification by faith and works, he believed that they might be interpreted in various ways.  He thought it was very foolish for anybody to stake his career on the definition of doctrines, and he said on many occasions that to imitate the life of Jesus was far more important than to argue about dogma.  Those who considered him a coward lost sight of his great intellectual capacity. 


As Henry Charles Lea [1825 – 1909] has aptly said,


"Erasmus, when rightly considered, was one of the most heroic figures of an age of heroes.  Nowhere else can we find an instance so marked of the power of pure intellect.  His gift of ridicule was the most dreaded weapon in Europe and he used it mercilessly upon the most profitable abuses of the Church."' 


[1] [end of "Historical Introduction"].


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from:  The Protestant Reformation, 1517–1559, Lewis W. Spitz [1922 – 1999], Stanford University, Illustrated, Harper & Row, c1985.



            'During the 1520s a group of Cambridge dons met to discuss the new Protestant ideas at the White House Inn, which came to be known as "Little Germany."  This coterie provided the key leaders of the movement in England:  Robert Barnes, John Frith, Hugh Latimer, Thomas Bilney, Nicholas Ridley, John Bale, John Foxe, and possibly William Tyndale.  Some of them were martyred or exiled by Henry VIII and some fell victim to "bloody Mary."  Thomas Becon [c. 1511 – 1567] paid them tribute in the preface to The Flower of Godly Prayers:


            [Becon] God, once again having pity on this realm of England, raised up His prophets, namely William Tyndale, Thomas Bilney, John Frith, Doctor [Robert] Barnes, Jerome [Barlowe], [Thomas] Garret, with divers others, which both with their writings and sermons earnestly labored to call us unto repentance that by this means the fierce wrath of God might be turned away from us.  But how were they entreated?  How were their painful labors regarded?  They themselves were condemned and burnt as heretics, and their books condemned and burnt as heretical.  O most unworthy act!11


            The person-to-person spread of the evangelical movement was chronicled by John Foxe in his Book of Martyrs.  He reported that it was through Tyndale that Frith "received into his heart the seed of the Gospel and sincere godliness."  In 1524 Latimer presented a bachelor of divinity thesis directed against Melanchthon, but Bilney persuaded him of the rightness of the Lutheran position.  In order to build the faculty of his new college at Oxford, in 1526 Cardinal Wolsey brought scholars from Cambridge, but six of the eight appointees were from the reform-minded group.


            Tyndale was the most effective propagandist for Protestantism in England.  Thomas More considered him his most dangerous opponent.  Born about 1495 in Gloucestershire, he took an M.A. at Oxford and continued his study at Cambridge.  He felt the need for a good translation of the Bible and after attempting without success to persuade Bishop Turnstall to permit him to render the New Testament into English, he traveled in 1524 to Wittenberg.  Influenced by Luther's German version, he published in Worms the first printed English translation of the New Testament.  During the next years he collaborated with Miles Coverdale in translating large parts of the Old Testament.  The Bible and his tracts were smuggled into England.  In his later years Tyndale lived in the English house of the Merchant Adventurers of






Antwerp, where he was immune from arrest by the Habsburg imperial officials.  Thomas More plotted for his death.  In May, 1535, Tyndale was tricked into leaving the house by an Englishman who posed as a convert.  He was arrested and imprisoned in a castle near Brussels.  Sixteen months later he [Tyndale] was tried for heresy and on October 6, 1536 [Erasmus died July 12, 1536], he was strangled at the stake and his body burned to ashes.  His last words are said to have been:  "Lord, open the king of England's eyes."


            The fiery-tempered prior Robert Barnes [close friend of John Bale] provided another personal link with Wittenberg.  On Christmas Eve, 1525, he delivered an impassioned sermon in which he leveled twenty-five criticisms at the church and made heretical statements.  Wolsey had his Cambridge rooms searched for Lutheran books which Barnes foresightedly had hidden elsewhere.  On the advice of Bishops Gardiner and Foxe he abjured his preaching "against the wordliness of the church" and did penance by kneeling during Bishop John Fisher's sermon at St. Paul's Cathedral on February 11, 1526.  In addition, he was forced to carry a faggot in procession around the church.  Under house arrest in 1528, he dressed in lay clothes and fled via Antwerp to Wittenberg.  There he became a guest and close friend of Luther.  In 1531 the Wittenberg theologians sent him as their representative to Henry VIII, but Chancellor Thomas More attempted to have him arrested as a heretic and apostate monk.  He escaped by disguising himself as a merchant.  During the last conservative years of Henry's reign, his luck ran out and, condemned to death for opposing Bishop Gardiner and the king, he [Robert Barnes] was burned at Smithfield on July 30, 1540.  In his final confession he declared:  "I trust in no good works that ever I did, but only in the death of Christ.  I do not doubt but through him to inherit the kingdom of heaven."  Thus did "St. Robert" die, as Luther affectionately called him.'  [246-248].


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from:  Luther and German Humanism, Lewis W. Spitz, Variorum, 1996.









I.  Definitions and Varieties


            Humanism, the most characteristic form of Renaissance intellectual life, developed in Italy about the middle of the fourteenth century and persisted through the Reformation period well into the seventeenth century.  The term "humanism" or umanesimo was coined by a German pedagogue, F.J. Niethammer, who used it in 1808 to refer to a philosophy of education that favored classical studies in the school curriculum.  Karl Hagen in a work published 1841–43 and George Voigt, 1859, first used the word Humanismus as a historical event and an intellectual phenomenon in association with the Renaissance.  The term itself is protean and has been used in varying modalities to describe a number of movements involving an anthropocentric emphasis.  In a very general way it was tied up with the rationalistic and humanitarian attitudes cultivated by the Enlightenment.  Early in the nineteenth century it was used for the so-called second humanism of Wilhelm von Humboldt and his contemporaries, who made reason and experience the sole touchstones of truth.  It  has been identified with the libertarian ideas of John Stuart Mill and at the other extreme has been appropriated by Marxian socialists as the communist "progressive humanism."  The twentieth century has witnessed the development of the "new" or "third humanism," represented by thinkers such as Bertrand Russell and Corliss Lamont, militantly anthropocentric and not infrequently anti-religious.  The term has been associated with the attempt to develop a non-theistic religio-ethical movement.  Jean-Paul Sartre and others have argued for existential philosophy as a humanism.  The term has been applied indiscriminately to any and every appreciation of human values and is not infrequently confused with simple humanitarianism.  Historically, however, humanism has been most often closely associated with the thought and literary culture of the Renaissance.'  ["1"-2].











            "Luther considered the Renaissance revival of learning a happy development preceding the coming of the Reformation just as John the Baptist once heralded the coming of Christ.  Humanism made the Reformation possible, for the knowledge of the languages, the critical handling of sources, the attack on abuses, the national feeling, the war on scholasticism, and an army of young humanists who rallied to the evangelical cause were indispensable preconditions for the success of the Reformation.  The Reformation in turn contributed to the continuity, the broadening of influence, the increase in classical learning, and the perpetuation of many humanist values into later centuries."  [51].



"Luther's confrontation with Erasmus over the theological issue of freedom of the human will to keep the law perfectly and to accept Christ as Savior of its own power did not prevent him from recommending to students Erasmus's humanist writings and did not lead him to discourage Melanchthon's continued correspondence with the prince of humanists.  Luther could distinguish much more clearly than most Reformation scholars in our day between a right relationship with God of everlasting importance and the supreme benefits of culture for the very limited time allotted to man in the here and now."  [54].



'If printing served humanism and reform, the humanists and reformers served publishing in turn.  There was a steadily ascending curve in the volume of publications, but controversies triggered great upsurges in the number of books and pamphlets published.  Like the Savonarola incident in Florence, the Reuchlin affair in Germany, the Carlstadt skirmish with the Thomists, the events of the Reformation opened the floodgates.  The number of books published in Germany increased by ten times between the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses [the tradition, 1517] and the year 1524, which marked the high tide in the printing of religious and social treaties.  On February 14, 1519, the humanist publisher Johannes Froben in Basel wrote to Luther:


            [Froben] We sent six hundred copies of your collected works which I published to France and Spain.  They are sold in Paris, read and appreciated at the Sorbonne.  The book dealer Clavus of Pavia took a sizable number to Italy to sell them everywhere in the cities.  I have sent copies also to England and Brabant and have only ten copies left in the






storeroom.  I have never had such good luck with a book.  The more accomplished a man is, the more he thinks of you.115


            The statistics tell an exciting tale of the proliferation and power of the press.  Estimates vary, but a reasonable conjecture is that 40,000 titles were published in Europe during the fifteenth century.  If the average edition numbered 250 volumes, and it may well have been closer to 300, there must have been a total of ten to twelve million incunabala [books printed before 1501] published, many traditional medieval titles, but many also humanist and classical texts.  By the year 1517 another ten million volumes were published, but by 1550 under the pressure of the Reformation 150,000 more titles had been published for a total of sixty million volumes.116  Some 25,000 works were printed in Germany before 1500, not including broadsides and leaflets, but once the Reformation was underway the annual number rose to five hundred and then to a thousand.  In Wittenberg alone over six hundred different works were published between the years 1518 and 1523, whereas in the British Isles the total for these years was less than three hundred.117  Classical learning and religious thought no longer contributed exclusively to what Vico was to call "the conceit of the learned," but became the property of an ever broader range of the literate population.  The French humanist Louis Le Roy rightly declared later in the sixteenth century:


            [Louis Le Roy] Besides the restoration of learning, now almost complete, the invention of many fine new things...has been reserved to this age.  Among these, printing deserves to be put first....The invention has greatly aided the advancement of all disciplines.  For it seems miraculously to have been discovered in order to bring back to life more easily literature which seemed dead.118


Luther, like Erasmus, was quick to see the power of the press, but he held that the message was still more powerful than the medium.  In 1522 he [Luther] wrote:  "I have only put God's Word in motion through preaching and writing.  The Word has done everything and carried everything before it."'  [70-72].



            "Just as the vitality of the Italian Renaissance and the creativity of Italian humanism especially in Florence and Venice is said to have lasted far beyond the sacco di Roma (1527), so German humanism, too, remained a powerful cultural force in alliance with the Reformation.122  Partially subsumed under the religious drive of the Reformation, it received through the approbations of and amalgamation with the Reformation a broader, deeper, and long lasting impact through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The study of the course of German humanism from the early fifteenth century to the





seventeenth century demonstrates the tremendous continuity of that intellectual movement.  The commonplace notion of a sharp break between Renaissance and Reformation so far as humanism in intellectual and cultural terms is concerned has proved to be a fable convenue which must be relegated to the historians' shelves of outmoded curiosities along with the idea of the Middle Ages as the dark ages or the Enlightenment as an antihistorical period.123"  [74].



"....the human spirit must not fare too well in this world, for creative genius responds to suffering and conflict and grows dull with overmuch prosperity.  The German humanists such as Reuchlin were fond of quoting the line from Horace, Exegi monumentum aere perennis.125  Compared with the golden age of the Italian Renaissance it was indeed a monument of bronze.  But it also had a lasting quality, though it gave way in the end to the iron age of an industrial society."  [76].







Studia Humanitatis, Luther Senior, et Initia Reformationis" 



'....Relating the intellectual forces contributing to the Reformation and those operative in Luther sheds light upon the beginnings of both.  To acknowledge that Luther's Werdegang [development, growth, career, etc.] occurred in a specific intellectual context by no means minimizes his emergence as a creative thinker and original mind, a man who reshaped his inheritance and then reformed the church.  Dr. Oberman allows for the "X" in the equation, as E. Gordon Rupp put it in his beautiful opening address to the Third International Congress for Luther Research, "the point at which great men cease to be explained by heredity and environment, and the thought world of their contemporaries."


Dr. Oberman is a man who, like Dr. Johnson, was born to grapple with libraries, and the notes reveal that he has done so.  I find his methodology and conception of history most congenial to my own personal predilection....' 







[footnote (not referenced above)] "2For a list of the classical authors and Italian humanists whose works were published in Germany between 1465 and 1500 and the classical and humanist authors printed in German translations up to the year 1520, see Rudolph Hirsch, "Printing and the Spread of Humanism in Germany:  The Example of Albrecht von Eyb," Renaissance Men and Ideas, Robert Schwoebel, ed. (New York, 1971), pp. 28, 31.  Most of the classical and humanist authors whom Luther cited frequently had been published in Germany by 1520."  [103].



[part of a footnote (not referenced above)] "For the most part Luther considered Italians to be very superstitious and blind in their saint cults".   [110].



            'Erasmus remained for him [Luther] a nutcracker, or mockingbird, who did not take Christ seriously. 


Luther considered Erasmus' Copia and Adages to be of value but thought all else would perish.  Luther was ready to relieve Erasmus of all embarrassment

at being considered a Lutheran, for it is clear that "Erasmus believes implicitly whatever Pope Clement VII believes."  Erasmus remained for him the great Epicurean.1  With the single exception of Erasmus, however, one finds many more references in Luther's later writings to John Hus, Karlstadt, Müntzer, and comets than to all the Renaissance humanists together.'  [111-112].



            [footnote (not referenced above)] '3W A Tr, II, 8, no. 1248.  Richard M. Douglas, Jacopo Sadoleto, 1477–1547 Humanist and Reformer [see 121] (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), p. 47.  The Commentary on Psalm 50 was Sadoleto's first exegetical work.  Erasmus praised it but Luther found it to be untheological throughout, insensitive to the motive of grace, and neglectful of the role of Christ in the redemption of man.  P. 188:  Commenting on Sadoleto's letter to Melanchthon Luther described the author as one "who was a papal secretary for fifteen years, certainly an able and cultivated man... but cunning and artful withal, in the Italian manner." See also Douglas, pp. 25, 27, 253 n. 64, 114, 116–17, 134, 149.'  [111]. 











            "In terms of substance, what was the contribution of humanism to Luther's role as a theological and religious reformer?  Bernd Moeller [born 1931] once stated with epigrammatic force:  "Without humanism no Reformation."  This assertion on the surface seems problematical, for Renaissance humanism did not lead to a radical Reformation in the Italy of Petrarch, Bruni, or Ficino, nor in the Spain of Cardinal Ximenes, nor in the France of Budé, Bodin, or Lefèvre d'Étaples.  But in the German context humanism was clearly an essential precondition and a necessary catalyst for radical change.  The Italian humanists considered scholastic theology, and some of them even Aristotelian natural science, to be a foreign import coming from the ultramontanes.  The German humanists were increasingly repelled by scholasticism, admired Italian humanism, but were patriotically hostile to the Italian church and its exploitation of the German people."  [83-84].





Luther's Importance for


Anthropological Realism" 



            'There is a discernible difference in the way in which the English and French Enlightenment intellectuals and the German Aufklärung [German:  "Enlightenment"] thinkers  related to Luther's Reformation.  Hume and Gibbon were contemptuous of the theological concern of the reformers.  It is a curious development to find that in England many of the Victorians in the next century were critical of "Luther's rationalism and Erastianism [from Thomas Erastus 1524 – 1583] ["the state is supreme over the church" (Internet); etc.]."7  Voltaire despised the Reformation as a "quarrel of monks" and sneered that "one cannot read without a mixture of contempt and pity the manner in which Luther treats all his opponents and particularly the Pope."  The men of the Aufklärung were critical of Luther, but by no means contemptuous.  They were critical of the medieval remains in his thought, but they were appreciative of his battle for the freedom of conscience, which for them was the essence of the Reformation.  In Luther the gold of religious and ethical autonomy was still mixed with slag.  They considered further purification and the completion of what 






Luther had begun to be their task.  It was no mere theatrical gesture, therefore, or act of cultural reform and resurgence.  They staged "reformations" of dogmatics, jurisprudence, orthography, the book trade, hymnbooks, and of Lutheranism hypocrisy, when the men of the Aufklärung constantly called upon the name of Luther, for they considered him to be the leader of the first attack wave, while they constituted the phalanx of hoplites which would win the final victory of reason over superstition and the forces of darkness.  "Reformation" became one of their favorite words, "reformation" as freedom and "reformation" as itself.  the majestic Goethe [Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 – 1832] in the Frankfurter gelehrten Anzeigen in 1772 mocked the "iconoclastic Zeal" of the "enlightened reformers" of his day.  Hamann commented ironically on the "epidemic reformation swindle" and the fact that "reformation" was such a favorite word in the Aufklärung [Enlightenment].8'  [139-140].



            'Feuerbach [Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach 1804 – 1872] and Schopenhauer [Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860] in certain passages seem to be exploiting the authority of Luther to support unorthodox positions in a conscious way.  This is a case of the tyranny, as Lord Chesterfield once put it, which the living exercise over the dead.  It is like Kaiser Wilhelm quoting John Knox to the effect that "one man with God is always a majority."  Luther contributed to, but was also used by, idealists and realists alike.  Both groups failed to appreciate his deepest concerns, the primal anxiety and dread (Urgrauen) which oppresses mortal man [see, 2896-2938 (Horror Vacui)], the concern to find gracious the God who is the final ground of being, the conviction that the divine initiative changes man's being, makes of him a new creature, the theology of hope and joy.  Other moderns, the existentialists and postliberal theologians have been able to wrestle more seriously with Luther's thought in its third and fourth dimensions [value?].'  [169].








            'There were warnings in great number, of course, from all of the fathers [Church Fathers] against the lasciviousness of some classical writings and against the demonic nature of the antique gods.  Tertullian, that dour rigorist, referred to the philosophers as the "patriarchs of heresy" and blamed Greek philosophy for the Gnostic deviation.  He [Tertullian] called Plato

a "grocery store for all the heretics," and in the De praescriptione






haereticorum he attacked Plato's greatest student:  "Unhappy Aristotle who introduced dialectic for the benefit of heresy, the great master in building up and in tearing down, ambiguous in its sentences, forced in its conjectures, ruthless in its arguments; a work of contentions, a burden even for itself, it discourses on everything so as not to have discoursed on anything."13'  [28].



"The most celebrated document of despondency over the human condition and the one against which Manetti [Giannozzo Manetti 1396 – 1459 (see Two Views of Man, Pope Innocent III [when Cardinal Lotario dei Segni, 1195], on the Misery of Man; Giannozzo Manetti, on the Dignity of Man, translated, with an introduction, by Bernard Murchland, Ungar, c1966)] was reacting specifically was Innocent III's [then, 1195, Cardinal [1190] Lotario dei Segni (c. 1161 – 1216) (Pope Innocent III, 1198 – 1216)] De contemptu mundi seu de miseria humanae conditionis [see 550], in which he made the utmost of the dust-to-dust and ashes-to-ashes realities and rehearsed the most disgusting side of human life:  the lice, spittle, urine, feces, the brevity of time, old age, the various labors and sorrows of mortals, the precariousness of life, the constant nearness of death, the many kinds of torments and sufferings of the human body, and his proclivities for sin and propensities for evil.  It is true that Innocent planned to write the corresponding essay on the dignity of man, but he was caught up in administration and never rounded out the picture [Innocent III, after those experiences, forgot about "the dignity of man"].  Thus the total effect of this writing from such a lofty source was to underline in black the sorry side of human life.47"  [42].



'....The worry about man himself was well phrased by New England's poet laureate Robert Frost [1874 – 1963] when he said:  "You cannot frighten me with your enormous spaces, It is the void [see:, 2896-2938] in man that gives me pause."


            The nestor ["venerable and wise old man" (] of Renaissance historians, Jacob Burckhardt [see 48], was both prophetic and historical, it seems, when he raised the question in his Reflections on History, "Will optimism continue to survive and how long?  Or, as pessimist philosophy of today might seem to suggest, will there be a general change in thought such as took place in the third and fourth centuries?"69  The answer to his second question that wells up from the demimonde of intellectual life in our day is a shrill yes.  Jacques [Jack] Kerouac, spokesman for the ragged edge of the younger set, advertises his contempt for history as being neither true nor valuable.  Norman Mailer defines a hipster as "a man who has divorced himself

from history, who does not give a damn about the past."  On a considerably






higher level existentialist Sartre cites the reasons why man is not bound by history.  For a large segment of the population, cut off from a serious bond with the past, whatever value and meaning there is in life is created by the self, while all outside belongs to the mysterious and impenetrable unpattern[?] of an unreal reality.  It could be plausibly argued that a Christian like Cardinal Newman [1801 – 1890] and a pagan like Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. – 65 C.E.] had infinitely more in common than a large part of the postmodern generation (if the reader will forgive the use of this faddish term) has with either Christianity[newer paganism] or paganism.  It is no longer possible to ignore this loud chorus of "existential screaming," for it is both symptom and sickness.


            What is, however, more decisive is the plaintive song of responsible intellectuals, particularly of the younger men.  Without embarking on a discussion of the anatomy of revolution and the desertion of the intellectuals, we can at least suggest that the intellectuals have frequently proved themselves to be sensitive to great human problems and were their articulate heralds long before society had followed fateful tendencies toward final consequences.  Only a few examples from the voluminous "viewing with alarm" literature will have to suffice.  The key word is alienation.


            A brilliant young Harvard-trained psychologist now at Yale, Kenneth Keniston, spoke out in the Phi Beta Kappa journal on the problem of Western man:


[Keniston] This is an age that inspires little enthusiasm.  In the industrial West, and increasingly now in the uncommitted nations of the East, ardor is lacking; instead men talk of their growing distance from one another, from their social order, from their work and play, and even from the values that in a perhaps romanticized past seem to have given their lives cohesiveness and direction.  Horatio Alger is replaced by Timon, Napoleon by Ishmael, and even Lincoln now seems pallid before the defiant images of "hoods" and "beats."  The vocabulary of social commentary is dominated by terms that characterize this distance:  alienation, estrangement, separation, withdrawal, indifference, disaffection, apathy, noninvolvement, neutralism—all these words describe the increasing distance between men and their former objects of love, commitment, loyalty, devotion and reverence.  Alienation, once seen as the consequence of a cruel (but changeable) economic order, has become for many the central fact of human existence, characterizing man's "thrown-ness" into a world in which he has no inherent place.  Formerly imposed upon men by the world around them, estrangement increasingly is chosen by them as their dominant reaction to the world.70






The shift in literature from a preoccupation with the alienation of the outsider, the member of a minority group, to a concern for the alienation of the common man as a metaphysical malady is highly indicative.  The American historian and presidential advisor Eric Goldman once commented sardonically that when the American Negroes have achieved all their realizable goals, they will discover what the emancipated Jews learned:  that life itself is fundamentally empty [irritating!  First!, Freedom!, and opportunity].'  [50-51].



            'Luther spent a lifetime combating melancholy [how much melancholy, was (and is), due to diet?  One example:  goiter.  How much melancholy, due to diseases:  syphilis, etc.?] and communicating a sense of confidence to his fellowmen.  There is even a bit of bravado in his protestations of courage and Christian nonchalance, to borrow Reinhold Niebuhr's phrase.  It came to the surface particularly in crisis situations, as in 1522 when desertions from his cause were numerous and he [Luther] wrote to Elector Frederick of Saxony:


            [Luther] Have a little confidence in me, fool though I am, for I know these and other like tricks of Satan.  I do not fear him because I know that this hurts him.  Yet all of this is only a beginning.  Let the world cry out and pass its judgments.  Let those fall away who will—even a Saint Peter or persons like the apostles.  They will come back on the third day, when Christ rises from the dead.  This word in II Cor. ch. 6, must be fulfilled in us:  "Let us approve ourselves in tumults," etc.81


Or again, during the trying days of the Augsburg Diet in 1530, Luther allegedly wrote on the wall in the Koburg [Castle] the words of the psalm for his own encouragement:  "Non moriar sed vivam et narrabo opera Dei."  He [Luther] found it necessary to encourage Melanchthon [Philipp Melanchthon (born Schwartzerd)1497 – 1560] and the less stalwart evangelicals at the Diet:


[Luther] I am displeased with your miserable worries, with which you write you are consumed and which rule so in your heart.  This shows the magnitude of our unbelief, not the magnitude of our cause.  For the same cause was greater in the time of John Hus [1373 – 1415 (reformer, "burned at the stake")] and many others than it is with us.  But just as the cause is great, so is its author and initiator, for the cause is not ours.  Therefore, why do you continually and without intermission weaken?  If the cause is false, let us renounce it.  If it is true, why do we make him a

liar in such great promises with which he commands us to be of a calm and quiet mind?82






            Luther's correspondence is studded with letters of Seelsorger  [a "physician of souls" (pastor)] combatting depression and melancholy in men who have turned to him for help. 


Luther sent Matthias Weller a characteristic bit of advice on the problem of his psychological depression.


[Luther, to Matthias Weller] Grace and peace in Christ.

            Honorable, kind, good Friend:


                        Your dear brother has informed me that you are deeply distressed and afflicted with melancholy.  He will undoubtedly tell you what I have said to him.


                        Dear Matthias, do not dwell on your own thoughts, but listen to what other people have to say to you.  For God has commanded men to comfort their brethren, and it is his will that the afflicted should receive such consolation as God's very own.  Thus our Lord speaks through Saint Paul, "Comfort the fainthearted," and through Isaiah:  "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.  Speak ye comfortably."  And elsewhere our Lord indicated that it is not his will that man should be downcast, but that he should rather serve the Lord with gladness and not offer him the sacrifice of sorrow.  All this Moses and the prophets declared often and in many places.  Our Lord also commanded us not to be anxious, but to cast our cares upon him, for he careth for us, as Saint Peter taught from Ps. 55....83


In the Table Talk Luther reverted to this theme frequently, as though he perceived an infectious malady spreading through society.  Especially throughout the last 15 years of his life he [Luther] warned that solitude produces melancholy and urged comradeship and social contacts as a cure, together with playing the lute, prayer, and a host of commonsense devices.84  Luther was candid enough to admit that for all the sound advice he freely dispensed, he found that applying the same to himself was another matter.  To Conrad Cordatus he wrote:  "This is in accord with the saying, 'Good cheer is half the battle,' and, 'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:  but a broken spirit drieth the bones.' 


[luther] I give you this advice although I confess that I do not take it myself."85






            That was Luther in another day and another age, at the end of the Middle Ages, which the medievalist Norman Cantor has described with the rubric "the life and death of a civilization."86  The problem confronting contemporary man may very well be that of Albrecht Dürer's [1471 – 1528]


"Who now will give us certainty?" 


With Erasmus we too see a certain fatal mutation in human affairs, but need it be fatal?


            The audacious survey now happily completed of man's view of man and his prospects through the long millennia of Western history at least suggests, if it

does not confirm, certain tentative conclusions.  A time-line perspective of the problem of man's ambiguous position in the total scheme of things and of man's ambivalent assessment of that position suggests that the range of human

possibilities is fortunately limited[?] at the extremes of both pessimism and optimism.  The human habitation is provided with both a floor and a ceiling.  As Hegel once reminded his lady friend and future wife, Marie Tucher, "In all not superficial minds a sense of sadness is linked with all sense of happiness," and the reverse is fortunately also usually true.87  In the grand sweep of Western history there have been periods of decline in which the general mood was depressed and periods of ascent in which the mood was exuberant.  But in each period the counterpoint of expectation or despondency found expression through some articulate spokesman and was recorded for our contemplation.  This chiaroscuro treatment of the human landscape displays broad areas of light and shadow.  But close study of the detail reveals also that many of the leading figures in pronouncing upon either the grandeur of man's dignity or the abjectness of his misery have in their own persons given expression also to the antithetical aspect.  The picture in terms of broad cultural analysis is complicated in two ways, then:  first by the fact that both motifs were present in varying degrees in at least the major figures referred to and, second, by the fact that both motifs were found in varying degrees in all the cultural epochs traversed.  The line runs not merely among men but through each man, marking off sectors in history of varying areas.


            From within his own historical perspective man remains a mystery to man.  It is ironic, in fact, that the world of nature should seem to be more accessible to human understanding than the world of history, which man makes and in which he is intimately involved....'  [56-58].


l l l l l






from:  The Political Consequences of the Reformation, Studies in Sixteenth-Century Political Thought, by the Rev. R.H. Murray, M.A., Litt.D.  Author of "Erasmus and Luther:  Their Attitude to Toleration" [see 343], New York, Russell & Russell, 1960 (1926).



[dedication]                                        "TO THE













For over twenty years I have been reading the authors whose writings are analysed in this book.  I approached them in the first instance without much criticism and with a receptive mind in order to allow their way of thinking to permeate my intellect until they became part of the mental furniture of my mode of thought.  Naturally I recognised that till I had done so my criticism would not be adequate.  It would of course be wanting in sympathy, and it would rather tend to defend me against their spirit than enable me to appreciate it.  In the passing of the years I have submitted to such seminal thinkers as those dealt with in this book, and have learned to live in the atmosphere of their ideas to such an extent that I could almost anticipate the turn of their thoughts on a given subject.  Then I changed my method, and stood, as it were, at a considerable distance from my authors in order to be able to attempt calmly to estimate what their influence on the Reformation really had been.  To be in contact with great men and their writings has been the keenest of pleasures, and it will be a matter of satisfaction to me if I can in any wise convey to the reader some of my own joy.


            The following publishers generously allowed me to use extracts from books published by them, and I desire to thank them most cordially:  Macmillan & Co. (Anglican Essays) and the S.P.C.K. (the Rev. R.H. Murray, Erasmus and Luther:  Their Attitude to Toleration).


            Mr Laski [apparently, Harold Joseph Laski 1893 – 1950] read my manuscript with the care and attention that men seldom bestown upon their own






labour.  My wife gave me the benefit of her searching criticism.  I thank both of them most warmly for their criticism no less than for their counsel.


Robert H. Murray.  Broughton Rectory, Huntingdon.    December 1925."  [ix].








            'The invention of printing gave a guarantee that the work of the men of the Renaissance would remain, that the new paths could be trodden now by all, and not, as in mediaeval days, by the select few.  True, these paths were still considered to require supervision.  For the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in England was established in 1526, thus preceding the first Index on the Continent by twenty-five years, and that of Rome by thirty-three.  Men like Dr Putnam [see 289, 296] assume that the censorship of books is primarily ecclesiastical—Papal, in fact—in origin.  Such an assumption, however, is totally unwarranted.  As a matter of fact, up to recent times the right of censorship of printed books was inherent in the State simply because the right to print was a prerogative of the monarch, be he king, viceroy, archbishop or pope.  When Charles I. [1600 – 1649; King of England, Scotland, Ireland, 1625 – 1649 (beheaded)] proclaimed that "the print is the king's in all countries" he proclaimed the precise truth.


            The soil had been ploughed in many directions, and was ready for any seed that might fall.  Some seed fell by the wayside, in the shape of the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, that stern survey of the state of the clergy [laughing!  My impression:  not an accurate statement regarding the popularity of the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (1515 – 1517)].  How much satire undermined the prestige of Rome is plain to all who turn over the flying sheets of the time. These satirists realized the sagacity of this expedient.  Their pamphlets circulated on all sides, creating and moulding public opinion.  They assumed that the corruption of the clergy in general, and the friars in particular, was a matter known to all.  The Ship of Fools ["a 1494 satire by Sebastian Brant" (1457 – 1521) (Internet)], for instance, is in reality what Erasmus's Praise of Folly [written 1509, first printed 1511] is only on the surface.  It is a skit on the follies of mankind, whereas the work [Praise of Folly] of Erasmus is, in fact, an exposure of the follies and frauds of those who professed to serve the Church.  For this very reason it must be counted among the forces preparing for the Reformation.'  [xii-xiii].






            "In 1511 appeared the Encomium Moriae (Praise of Folly).  At a time in which printing was yet in its infancy, the first edition appeared with no less than eighteen hundred copies—an enormous issue for those days—yet less than a month after the appearance of the book for sale there were no more than six hundred with the bookseller.  It was printed more than seven times in the course of a few months.  To the friars his satire was as the sword of Gideon, and to all his wit was as the spear of Ithuriel.  Fortunate it was for Erasmus that Folly [in Praise of Folly] wore such a mask.  The lash of Juvenal or Swift is forgotten in the mocking smile of Lucian or Voltaire.


            Erasmus satirized follies of all kinds:  the student for his sickly look, the grammarian for his self-satisfaction, the philosopher for his quibbling, the sportsman for his love of butchery, the superstitious for his belief in the virtues of images and shrines, the sailor for his folly in praying to the Virgin, and the sinner for his foolishness in believing in the efficacy of pardons and indulgences.  The king no less than his subjects, the cardinal no less than his clergy, winced at the scourge of this merry-andrew ["a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior" (Internet)].


            The main object of Erasmus in writing the book which dissolved all Europe in laughter was the reform of religion.  He was, however, wise enough to know that the more subjects he embraced in his popular writing the more chance there was of its being read.  This is evident in the fierceness underlying his ideas.  The credulity of the time moves him to indignation which is not quite in keeping with the light tone Folly deigned to assume.  She might laugh at those who calculated with mathematical precision the number of years, months and hours of purgatory, and at those who fondly believed that they could wipe off a whole life of sin by a small coin.  Folly, all unconscious of her high mission, was lowering the prestige of the orthodox, thereby preparing the way in no small degree for the reformer. 


Kings and nobles, cardinals and bishops read the Praise of Folly with a degree of delight which would have been much diminished had they grasped its inner significance...."  [xiv].



"....After 1572 the Huguenots, for the most part, had ceased to plead on behalf of toleration.  Catherine de' Medici [1519 – 1589] taught them that they must fight if they were to win freedom to worship God.  Duplessis-Mornay [1549 – 1623 (see 179)], however, remained true to the political creed of the Politiques, for he ceased not to urge ably and eloquently the virtues of toleration.  This quality is present in his Exhortation aux Estates, which makes a direct appeal to the Roman Catholics to exhibit clemency.






            The Vindiciae contra Tyrannos ["Attributed to Philippe Duplessis Mornay (1549–1623) and Hubert Languet (1518–1581)."  (Internet)] met with a resounding success.  It was reprinted seven times before 1608.  Two English editions appeared during the Civil War and the Revolution, and were inevitably quoted in Parliament.  Fifteen other works of Duplessis-Mornay were published in England before 1617.  William Barclay devoted two whole books of his De Regno et Regalia Potestate adversus Monarchomacos, published in 1600, to a refutation of the principles of the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos.  He is cited, for instance, in a petition to Parliament in 1593.  Nor does John Milton disdain to employ a reference to Mornay in his Second Defence of the People of England.  Ponet and Harrington, Sidney and Locke all speak with respect of this French thinker.  Mornay'S influence was not confined to the Old World.  In far-distant Connecticut Thomas Hooker quoted the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos, and John Adams [1735 – 1826 (first Vice President, 1789 – 1797; second President, 1797 – 1801)], in his Defence of the Constitution of the Government of the United States, deemed the pages of the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos valuable. 


Mornay's concluding section lifts it out of the dust of the temporal into the serene air of the eternal."  [209].


l l l l l






from:  De Miseria Condicionis Humane [English and Latin], [Cardinal] Lotario dei Segni [c. 1161 – 1216] (Pope Innocent III [1198 – 1216]), edited by Robert E. Lewis, The Chaucer Library, The University of Georgia Press, Athens, c1978 (1195).






Early in 1195 Cardinal Lotario dei Segni, later Pope Innocent III, wrote a short treatise that was to become one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages—the De Miseria Humane Conditionis (or De Miseria Condicionis Humane, as in the title of the manuscript used for the text of the present edition).1  The treatise is organized into three parts, called books in the original:  the first concerns the wretchedness of man's conception, the disgusting physical aspects of humans, especially old ones, and the various miseries man must endure in his life; the second deals with the three goals for which man strives—riches, pleasures, and honors—with exempla and vivid descriptions used to illustrate the various forms of each; the third concerns the putrefacation of the body, the pains of hell, and the coming of God on the Day of Judgment.  The primary source is the Bible:  the author either presents an idea and then quotes a biblical passage or two in support of it or presents the biblical passage first and then expands on it.  But his learning is not confined to the Bible.  He also shows a familiarity with the works of a number of medieval Latin authors, including, among others, Gregory, Isidore of Seville, Peter Lombard, John of Salisbury, pseudo-St. Bernard, and Robert of Melun, and even occasionally with the works of such classical authors as Ovid, Horace, and Juvenal.2  ...."  [2].






But whatever the reason for writing it, from the late eleventh century to the seventeenth century, when the influence of the contemptus mundi idea began to wane, the De Miseria was the most popular work on the subject, in part because the author was regarded as one of the greatest of the medieval popes and in part because it brought together nearly every cliché of earlier works on contemptus mundi.  The popularity of the De Miseria can be seen in the number of extant manuscripts in which it appears (some 672),8 in the number of printed editions it went through by the middle of the seventeenth






century (52),9 and in the number of languages into which it was translated by the end of the same century (Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Irish, Italian, Spanish).10

            The popularity of the De Miseria can also be seen in the enormous extent and variety of its influence on other writers during the Middle Ages...."  [3].



'Here Begins the Book of the Misery of the Human Condition Published by Lotario, Cardinal-Deacon of Saints Sergius and Bachius, Who Was Afterwards Called Pope Innocent the Third.





For my dearest lord Father Peter, Bishop of Porto and Saint Rufina, Lotario, unworthy cardinal-deacon, prays for grace in the present and glory in the future.



Here begins the prologue


A bit of leisure, which I caught among many difficulties recently on that occasion which you know of, did not pass for me completely in leisure, but to put down pride, which is the chief of all vices, I described the vileness of the human condition in one way or another.  Nevertheless I have dedicated the title of the present little work to your name, asking and requesting that if your judgment shall find anything worthy in it, it ascribe all to divine grace.  Indeed if your reverence shall advise, I will describe, with Christ's aid, the dignity of human nature, so that just as in this book the haughty man is humbled, so in the next the humble man may be exalted.





[1] of the misery of man


"Why came I out of my mother's womb to see labor and sorrow and that my days should be spent in confusion?"  If he whom God sanctified in the womb spoke such things about himself, what things shall I say of myself, whom my mother brought forth in sin?  Ah me, I might say, my mother, why did you bear me, the son of bitterness and sorrow?  "Why did I not die in the womb?  Having come out of the belly, why did I not perish at once?  Why received upon the knees, suckled






at the breasts," born "for burning and for fuel for the fire"?  If only I had been destroyed in the womb, so "that my mother might have been my grave and her womb an everlasting conception."  "For I should have been as if I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave."  Who therefore will give my eyes a fountain of tears so that I may bewail the miserable beginning of the human condition, the culpable progress of human behavior, the damnable ending of human dissoluteness.  With tears I might consider what man is made of, what man does, what man will be.  Man is indeed formed from earth, conceived in sin, born to pain.  He does depraved things that are unlawful, shameful things that are indecent, vain things that are unprofitable.  He becomes fuel for the fire, food for worms, a mass of putridness.  I shall show this more clearly; I shall analyze more fully.  Man is formed of dust, of clay, of ashes:  what is more vile, from the filthiest sperm.  He is conceived in the heat of desire, in the fervor of the flesh, in the stench of lust:  what is worse, in the blemish of sin.  He is born to labor, fear, sorrow:  what is more miserable, to death.  He does depraved things by which he offends God, offends his neighbors, offends himself.  He does vain and shameful things by which he pollutes his fame, pollutes his person, pollutes his conscience.  He does vain things by which he neglects serious things, neglects profitable things, neglects necessary things.  He will become fuel for the inextinguishable fire that always flames and burns; food for the immortal worm that always eats and consumes; a mass of horrible putridness that always stinks and is filthy.'  [92, 94].







"His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth; in that day all their thoughts shall perish."  O how many and how great the things mortals plan on account of the uncertainty of worldly foreknowledge, but at the moment of sudden death the things that they had planned suddenly disappear.  "I am taken away like the shadow when it declineth, and I am shaken off as locusts."  Therefore the spirit does not go forth willing, but unwilling, because it gives up with sorrow what it possessed with love, and whether it wishes or not, a limit has been set for it that cannot be gone beyond, at which earth shall return to earth.  For it is written:  "Earth thou art, and into earth thou shalt return."  Certainly it is natural that something made of matter should be dissolved into matter.  "He shall therefore take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall return to their dust."  But when man shall die, he shall inherit beasts, serpents, and worms.  "For they shall all sleep in the dust, and worms shall cover them."  "For the worm shall eat them up as a garment, and the moth shall consume them as wool."  "I am to be consumed as rottenness and as a garment that is moth-eaten."  "I have said to






rottenness, 'Thou art my father'; to worms, 'my mother and my sister'."  "Man is  rottenness, and his son a worm."  How foul the father, how vile the mother, how abominable the sister!  For man is conceived of blood made rotten by the fire of lust; in the end worms stand by his body like mourners.  Alive, he brings forth lice and tapeworms; dead, he will beget worms and flies.  Alive, he produces dung and vomit; dead, he produces rottenness and stench.  Alive, he fattens one man; dead, he will fatten many worms.  What, then, is more foul smelling than a human corpse?  What more horrible than a dead man?  He whose embrace was most pleasing in life will indeed be a disgusting sight in death.  What good, therefore, are riches?  What good sumptuous food?  What good delicacies?  They will not free from death, will not defend from the worm, will not take away from the stench.  He who was lately sitting glorious on the throne now lies despised in the grave; he who was lately shining splendid in the palace is now slighted naked in the tomb; he who was lately filling himself with delicacies in the dining hall is now consumed by worms in the sepulcher.'  [204, 206].



[titles, of other cheerful reading]








   "[5]   OF THE HELL FIRE"  [210]


   "[6]   OF INFERNAL DARKNESS"  [212]










"[11]   OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT"  [220]




"[13]   HOW HE WILL COME TO JUDGE"  [224]








"[15]   OF DIVINE JUDGMENT"  [230]





Then riches will not benefit, nor honors protect, nor friends support.  For it is written:  "Their silver and gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord."  "The kings of the earth shall weep and wail when they see the smoke of the burning," "for fear of its torments."  "What therefore will ye do in the day of visitation and calamity which cometh from afar?  To whom will ye flee for help?"  "Everyone shall bear his own burden."  "The soul that sins, the same shall die."  O severe judgment, in which not only of deeds, but "of every idle word that men have spoken, they shall render an account," in which the debt will be exacted with interest up to the last farthing.  "Who therefore will be able to flee from the wrath to come?"  "Therefore the Son of Man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals and them that work iniquity"; they shall bind them in bundles for burning "and shall cast them into the furnace of glowing fire.  There shall be weeping" and moaning, wailing and shrieking, grief and torment, gnashing and shouting, fear and trembling, labor and pain, fire and stench, darkness and anxiety, anguish and harshness, calamity and want, distress and sorrow, oblivion and confusion, tortures and pains, bitternesses and terrors, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, brimstone and fire burning forever and ever.



Here Ends the Book of the Misery of the Human Condition Published by Lotario, Cardinal-Deacon of Saints Sergius and Bachius, Who Was Afterwards Called Pope Innocent the Third.'  [230, 232].


l l l l l






from:  A History of Modern Culture, by Preserved Smith, Hon. Litt.D. Amherst, Professor of History in Cornell University, Volume II [of two volumes], The Enlightenment, 1687–1776, published by Peter Smith, 1957 (c1934) (Volume 1, c1930).



'The Christian apologist Warburton represents the ancient mysteries as established by the state for the peace of civil society.  Holbach [1723 – 1789], the atheist, declared:


            If we go back to the beginning we shall always find that ignorance and fear have created the gods; fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit has adorned or disfigured them; weakness worships them; credulity keeps them alive; custom imposes regard for them; and tyranny supports them in order to use the blindness of men for its own ends.


            The most elaborate exposition of this doctrine of the artificial creation of religions for secular purposes is found in the Testament of Jean Meslier [1664 – 1729] published, twenty-nine years after the author's death, by Voltaire [1694 – 1778].  Meslier was a French curate who was turned into a bitter enemy of religion by seeing it used, by unbelieving princes and prelates, as an instrument to oppress the poor.  Not daring to print his thoughts openly, he left them to posterity in a manuscript, which he called his Will, or, more fully,


            [Meslier] Thoughts and Sentiments on some of the abuses and errors in the guidance and government of men, by which the vanity and falsity of all the religions of the world are clearly and conclusively demonstrated.


The sufferings and oppression of men he believed due to the "detestable policy of those wishing to rule over their fellows unjustly, or else ambitious of a reputation for holiness or even for divinity." 


Religion is nothing but "abuse, error, illusion, falsehood and imposture,


calculated to make human laws pass for divine laws."  The miracles, the mysteries, the morals of Christianity are subjected to a withering analysis, and this is followed by an attack on theism and a profession of materialism.'  [521].


l l l l l






from:  Jesus Son of Man, Preface by Gore Vidal  Afterword by David Noel Freedman, translated by Hugh Young, Rudolf Augstein [1923 – 2002 (founded Der Spiegel, 1946/1947)], Urizen Books, 1977 (1972 German).





by Gore Vidal


            Whether or not Jesus actually resembles the mysterious and contradictory figure described in the Gospels (Greek for "good news") is unknowable and unimportant. 


In fact, it is quite possible that Jesus never existed in history. 


On the other hand, there is no doubt that the life of the West for nearly two millennia has been dominated by Christianity, that protean yet always somber creed which has not only served beautifully the princes of this world but also afforded occasional solace to those made wretched by their anointed lords...."  [7].





Mark, a disappointing witness


Conversation in the year 33



Have you heard the latest?


No, what's happened?


The worlds's been redeemed!


You don't say!


Yes, God took on human form and


had himself executed in Jerusalem; so


now the world is redeemed and the


devil's taken a nasty knock.


Well, isn't that charming.


—Schopenhauer [1788 – 1860]1"  [260]. 






"Notes" [349]  "Chapter 10                                     


1.  Schopenhauer, Arthur:  Neue Paralipomena:  vereinzelte Gedanken über vielerlei Gegenstande.  (In) Arthur Schopenhauer's handschriftlicher Nachlass, ed. Eduard Grisebach.  Vol. 4  Leipzig, 1892, p. 447 [the German edition:  Jesus Menschensohn, c1972, 490, has:  "§ 447 (= S.259)"]"  [394]. 


[Note:  I did not find this, in the Eduard Griesbach, Leipzig 1892, 6 volumes, I encountered (my 1 1/2 years of college German, 1953–54?  Near zero help).  See the following, for a source].


_____     _____     _____



from:  Der handschriftliche Nachlass, Arthur Schopenhauer [1788 – 1860], Herausgegeben von Arthur Hübscher, 5 volumes in 6, volume 4, part 2, Im Verlag von Waldemar Kramer, Frankfurt am Main, 1975.



"Senilia (1855/1856)"  [1]




[71]              Gespräch von Anno 33:



Wissen Sie schon das Neueste?


Nein, was ist passirt?


Die Welt ist erlöst!


Was Sie sagen!


Ja, der liebe Gott hat Menschengestalt angenommen und sich in


Jerusalem hinrichten lassen:  dadurch ist nun die Welt erlöst und


der Teufel geprellt.


Ei, das ist ja ganz scharmant."  [21].


l l l l l






from:  Curiosities of Literature.  By Isaac Disraeli [1766 – 1848].  Vol. III.  1858 (1791).



            'Leo X. projected an alliance of the sovereigns of Christendom against the Turks.  The avowed object was to oppose the progress of the Ottomans against the Mamelukes of Egypt, who were more friendly to the Christians; but the concealed motive with his holiness [Leo X] was to enrich himself and his family with the spoils of Christendom, and to aggrandize the papal throne by war; and such, indeed, the policy of these pontiffs had always been in those mad crusades which they excited against the East.


            The Reformation, excellent as its results have proved in the cause of genuine freedom, originated in no purer source than human passions and selfish motives:  it was the progeny of avarice in Germany, of novelty in France, and of love in England.  The latter is elegantly alluded to by Gray [Gay?]— 


And gospel-light first beam'd from Bullen's eyes.


The Reformation is considered by the Duke of Nevers, in a work printed in 1590, as it had been by Francis I., in his Apology in 1537, as a coup-d' état of Charles V. towards universal monarchy.  The duke says, that the emperor silently permitted Luther to establish his principles in Germany, that they might split the confederacy of the elective princes, and by this division facilitate their more easy conquest, and play them off one against another, and by these means to secure the imperial crown hereditary in the house of Austria.  Had Charles V. not been the mere creature of his politics, and had he felt any zeal for the Catholic cause, which he pretended to fight for, never would he have allowed the new doctrines to spread for more than twenty years without the least opposition....'  [142].





In Professor Dugald Stewart's first Dissertation on the Progress of Philosophy, I find this singular and significant term.  It has occasioned me to reflect on those contests for religion, in which a particular faith has been made the ostensible pretext, while the secret motive was usually political.  The historians, who view in religious wars only religion itself, have written large volumes, in which we may never discover that they have either been a struggle to obtain predominance, or an expedient to secure it.  The hatreds of ambitious men have disguised their own purposes, while Christianity has borne






the odium of loosening a destroying spirit among mankind; which, had Christianity never existed, would have equally prevailed in human affairs.  Of a moral malady, it is not only necessary to know the nature, but to designate it by a right name, that we may not err in our mode of treatment.  If we call that religious which we shall find for the greater part is political, we are likely to be mistaken in the regimen and the cure.'  [238-239].



            'Whether the reformed were martyred by the catholics, or the catholics executed by the reformed; whether the puritans expelled those of the established church, or the established church ejected the puritans, all seems reducible to two classes, conformists and non-conformists, or, in the political style, the administration and the opposition.  When we discover that the heads of all parties are of the same hot temperament, and observe the same evil conduct in similar situations; when we view honest old Latimer with his own hands hanging a mendicant friar on a tree, and, the government changing, the friars binding Latimer to the stake; when we see the French catholics cutting out the tongues of the protestants, that they might no longer protest; the haughty Luther writing submissive apologies to Leo the Tenth and Henry the Eighth for the scurrility with which he had treated them in his writings, and finding that his apologies were received with contempt, then retracting his retractions; when we find that haughtiest of the haughty, John Knox, when Elizabeth first ascended the throne, crouching and repenting of having written his famous excommunication against all female sovereignty; or pulling down the monasteries, from the axiom that when the rookery was destroyed, the rooks would never return; when we find his recent apologist admiring, while he apologizes for, some extraordinary proofs of Machiavelian politics, an impenetrable mystery seems to hang over the conduct of men who profess to be guided by the bloodless code of Jesus.  But try them by a human standard, and treat them as politicians, and the motives once discovered, the actions are understood!


            Two edicts of Charles the Fifth, in 1555, condemned to death the Reformed of the Low Countries, even should they return to the catholic faith, with this exception, however, in favour of the latter, that they shall not be burnt alive, but that the men shall be beheaded, and the women buried alive!  Religion could not, then, be the real motive of the Spanish cabinet, for in returning to the ancient faith that point was obtained; but the truth is, that the Spanish government considered the reformed as rebels, whom it was not safe to re-admit to the rights of citizenship.  The undisguised fact appears in the codicil to the will of the emperor, when he solemnly declares that he had written to the Inquisition "to burn and extirpate the heretics," after trying to






make Christians of them, because he is convinced that they never can become sincere catholics; and he acknowledges that he had committed a great fault in permitting Luther to return free on the faith of his safe-conduct, as the emperor was not bound to keep a promise with a heretic.  "It is because that I destroyed him not, that heresy has now become strong, which I am convinced might have been stifled with him in its birth."*  [see footnote, below]  The whole conduct of Charles the Fifth in this mighty revolution was, from its beginning, censured by contemporaries as purely political.  Francis the First observed that the emperor, under the colour of religion, was placing himself at the head of a league to make his way to a predominant monarchy.  "The pretext of religion is no new thing," writes the Duke of Nevers.  "Charles the Fifth had never undertaken a war against the Protestant princes but with the design of rendering the Imperial crown hereditary in the house of Austria; and he has only attacked the electoral princes to ruin them, and to abolish their right of election.  Had it been zeal for the catholic religion, would he have delayed from 1519 to 1549 to arm?  That he might have extinguished the Lutheran heresy, which he could easily have done in 1526, but he considered that this novelty would serve to divide the German princes, and he patiently waited till the effect was realized."'  [242-243].


            [footnotes] '*Llorente's "Critical History of the Inquisition." 


Naudé, "Considérations Politiques," p. 115.  See a curious note in Hart's "Life of Gustavus Adolphus," ii. 129.'  [243].



            'This subject of "Political Religionism" is indeed as nice as it is curious; politics have been so cunningly worked into the cause of religion, that the parties themselves will never be able to separate them; and to this moment the most opposite opinions are formed concerning the same events and the same persons.'  [244].





An enlightened toleration is a blessing of the last age—it would seem to have been practiced by the Romans, when they did not mistake the primitive Christians for seditious members of society; and was inculcated even by Mahomet, in a passage in the Koran, but scarcely practiced by his followers.  In modern history it was condemned when religion was turned into a political contest under the aspiring house of Austria—and in Spain—and in France.  It required a long time before its nature was comprehended—and to this moment it is far from being clear, either to the tolerators or the tolerated.






            It does not appear that the precepts or the practice of Jesus and the apostles inculcate the compelling of any to be Christians;* yet an expression employed in the nuptial parable of the great supper, when the hospitable lord commanded the servant, finding that he had still room to accommodate more guests, to go out in the highways and hedges, and "compel them to come in, that my house may be filled," was alleged as an authority by those catholics who called themselves "the converters," for using religious force, which, still alluding to the hospitable lord, they called "a charitable and salutary violence."  It was this circumstance which produced Bayle's "Commentaire Philosophique sur ces Paroles de Jesus Christ," published under the supposititious [spurious] name of an Englishman, as printed at Canterbury in 1686, but really at Amsterdam.  It is curious that Locke published his first letter on "Toleration" in Latin at Gouda, in 1689—the second in 1690—and the third in 1692.  Bayle opened the mind of Locke, and some time after quotes Locke's Latin letter with high commendation.†  The caution of both writers in publishing in foreign places, however, indicates the prudence which it was deemed necessary to observe in writing in favour of toleration.'  [245].





As a literary curiosity, I notice a subject which might rather enter into the history of religion.  It relates to the extraordinary state of our English Bibles, which were for some time suffered to be so corrupted that no books ever yet swarmed with such innumerable errata!


            These errata [errors in printing] unquestionably were in great part voluntary commissions, passages interpolated, and meanings forged for certain purposes; sometimes to sanction the new creed of a half-hatched sect, and sometimes with an intention to destroy all scriptural authority by a confusion, or an omission of texts—the whole was left open to the option or the malignity of the editors, who, probably, like certain ingenious wine-merchants, contrived to accommodate "the waters of life" to their customers' peculiar taste.  They had also a project of printing Bibles as cheaply and in a form as contracted as they possibly could for the common people; and they proceeded till it nearly ended with having no Bible at all:  and, as Fuller, in his "Mixt Contemplations on Better Times," alluding to this circumstance, with not one of his lucky quibbles, observes, "The small price of the Bible has caused the small prizing of the Bible."'  [427-428].






'....Another competition arose among those who printed English Bibles in Holland, in duodecimo, with an English colophon, for half the price even of the lowest in London.  Twelve thousand of these duodecimo Bibles, with notes, fabricated in Holland, usually by our fugitive sectarians, were seized by the king's printers, as contrary to the statute.*  Such was this shameful war of bibles—folios, quartos, and duodecimos, even in the days of Charles the First.  The public spirit of the rising sects was the real occasion of these increased demands for Bibles.


            During the civil wars they carried on the same open trade and competition, besides the private ventures of the smuggled Bibles.  A large impression of these Dutch English Bibles were burnt by order of the Assembly of Divines, for these three errors:


            Gen. xxxvi. 24.—This is that ass that found rulers in the wilderness—for mule.

            Ruth iv. 13.—"The Lord gave her corruptionfor conception.


            Luke xxi. 28.—Look up, and lift up your hands, for your condemnation draweth nigh—for redemption.


            These errata were none [?] of the printer's; but, as a writer of the times expresses it, "egregious blasphemies, and damnable errata" of some sectarian, or some Bellamy [Edward Bellamy?  (1850 – 1898)] editor of that day!


            The printing of Bibles at length was a privilege conceded to one William Bentley; but he was opposed by Hills and Field; and a paper war arose, in which they mutually recriminated on each other, with equal truth.


            Field printed, in 1653, what was called the Pearl Bible; alluding, I suppose, to that diminutive type in printing, for it could not derive its name from its worth.  It is in twenty-fours;* [see footnote, 564] but to contract the mighty book into this dwarfishness, all the original Hebrew text prefixed to the Psalms, explaining the occasion and the subject of their composition, is wholly expunged.  This Pearl Bible, which may be inspected among the great collection of our English Bibles at the British Museum, is set off by many notable errata, of which these are noticed:—


            Romans vi. 13.—Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness unto sin—for unrighteousness.






            First Corinthians vi. 9.—Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?—for shall not inherit.


            This erratum ["error in printing"] served as the foundation of a dangerous doctrine; for many libertines urged the text from this corrupt Bible against the reproofs of a divine.


            This Field was a great forger [see, 1735-1899]; and it is said that he received a present of 1500l. from the Independents to corrupt a text in Acts vi. 3, to sanction the right of the people to appoint their own pastors.† [see footnote, 564] The corruption was the easiest possible; it was only to be put a ye instead of a we; so that the right in Field's Bible emanated from the people, not from the apostles.  The only account I recollect of this extraordinary state of our Bibles is a happy allusion in a line of Butler:—


                        Religion spawn'd a various rout,

                        Of petulant, capricious sects,




In other Bibles by Hills and Field we may find such abundant errata, reducing the text to nonsense or to blasphemy, making the Scriptures contemptible to the multitude, who came to pray, and not to scoff.


            It is affirmed, in the manuscript account already referred to, that one Bible swarmed with six thousand faults!  Indeed, from another source we discover that "Sterne, a solid scholar, was the first who summed up the three thousand and six hundred faults that were in our printed Bibles of London."*  If one book can be made to contain near four thousand errors, like ingenuity was required to reach to six thousand; but perhaps this is the first time so remarkable an incident in the history of literature has ever been chronicled.  And that famous edition of the Vulgate, by Pope Sixtus the Fifth [Pope 1585 – 1590 (1520 – 1590)], a memorable book of blunders, which commands such high prices, ought now to fall in value, before the pearl Bible, in twenty-fours, of Messrs. Hills and Field!'  [429-431].






            [footnotes (from 562, 563)] '*A technical printing-term for a sheet containing twenty-four pages.


            The passage is as follows, and is addressed by the apostles to "the multitude of the disciples," who desired an improved clerical rule:—"Wherefore, brethren, look yet out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."'  [430].



            'The proverbial expression of chapter and verse seems peculiar to ourselves, and, I suspect, originated in the puritanic period, probably just before the civil wars under Charles the First, from the frequent use of appealing to the Bible on the most frivolous occasions, practiced by those whom South calls "those mighty men at chapter and verse."  With a sort of religious coquetry, they were vain of perpetually opening their gilt pocket Bibles; they perked them up with such self-sufficiency and perfect ignorance of the original, that the learned Selden found considerable amusement in going to their "assembly of divines," and puzzling or confuting them, as we have noticed.  A ludicrous anecdote on one of these occasions is given by a contemporary, which shows how admirably that learned man amused himself with this "assembly of divines!"  They were discussing the distance between Jerusalem and Jericho, with a perfect ignorance of sacred or of ancient geography; one said it was twenty miles, another ten, and at last it was concluded to be only seven, for this strange reason, that fish was brought from Jericho to Jerusalem market!  Selden observed, that "possibly the fish in question was salted," and silenced these acute disputants.'  [432].


l l l l l






from:  The Final Superstition, A Critical Evaluation of the Judeo-Christian Legacy, Joseph L. Daleiden, Prometheus, 1994.




























Cult Religions and Fundamentalists:




Prophets from the Barnum School








Papal Authority and the Catholic Church:




A Dictator by Any Other Name Is Much More Palatable







The New Testament:  Source of Inspiration, or Fabrication?








CHRISTIANITY or Neopaganism:  What's in a Name?








The Jesus Myths:  Searching for the Kernel of Truth








Establishing the Establishment








Christianity:  The Cure That Cripples








The Roots of Christian Theology:




Judaism and the Old Testament








The Bible as a Guide to Ethical Values:




A Case of Arrested Development








Reason versus Faith:  A Path to Knowledge,




A Path to Superstition








Knowing God through Direct Experience:  The Sixties












The Proofs for the Existence of God:




A Case Study in Convoluted Logic






















More Proofs:  If at First You Don't Succeed…




Maybe You Should Give It Up








Contradictions in the Concept of God:




Making Metaphysical Stones Too Heavy to Lift








The Value of Religion:  The Negative Contributions



of Institutionalized Superstition








The Origins of Religion:  In the Beginning There Was












Why the Myths Live On:  Today's Psychological












Alternatives to Theism:  Striving for a Better Idea















End Notes





















"  [7-8].



"Preface"  [11]


            "Although I have spent a great portion of my life studying religion in its various forms, I was not excited about the prospect of undertaking a critical evaluation of the Judeo-Christian [to me (LS) a loathsome term] tradition—for two reasons.  First, with the resurgence of Christian fundamentalism, it did not seem to be a particularly propitious time to write a book questioning the validity and value of that tradition.  And second, it has been my experience that any serious attempt to discuss the subject of religion or philosophy leaves most people either infuriated or bored to death.


            Nevertheless, after due reflection, I concluded that precisely because fundamentalism is so pervasive, there was sufficient reason once again to






expose the dark side of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Not that it hasn't been done many times before but, for reasons that I'll take pains to explain, the true history of Western religions is constantly being swept aside in favor of more expeditious myths.


            The second problem—namely, writing on religion in a style that would be sufficiently entertaining to hold a reader's interest—I found even more perplexing.  What reader would be encouraged to take the journey with me into the oftentimes labyrinthine world of theology and philosophy?  Surely not those zealots who are so committed to their religious beliefs that even an examination of their belief systems is considered sacrilegious.  No amount of reason or logic could persuade them.  However, there does appear to be a large number of people who are not committed to suppressing their intellectual integrity in blind adherence to an unexamined system of beliefs.  This is especially true of many (although, sadly, not nearly enough) college students who have adopted their religious views without being aware of the large body of historical research that calls into question the motivations and integrity of the founders of many of the popular religions of our time.  Few are aware of the origins of the biblical writings, or have devoted any time to critically evaluating the messages that such works convey.  I find this to be especially true of those who are able to quote passages of the Bible to suit every occasion.


            Even college students who have taken courses in theology have often been denied exposure to the cogent arguments that question the divinity of Jesus or the concept of a divine creator.  Worse still, disingenuous theology professors often provide an atheistic strawman which can be easily disposed of without coming to grips with the real contradictions of theism.  I experienced this sort of ruse firsthand in the theology and philosophy courses I took in college.  Virtually every serious philosopher who questioned Christian metaphysics was given short shrift.  It wasn't until after I left the university that I was able to begin my real education."  [12].



            "Some may be offended by my treatment of their deeply revered beliefs.  It is not my intention to offend or to destroy the psychological comfort which belief in God and immortality offers to many persons [but!, it is one by-product].  Rather, I hope to forcefully demonstrate that beliefs which are thousands of years old, and stem from an age when humankind was by and large ignorant and savage, need to be carefully scrutinized for validity and relevance in today's society.  If we are to formulate a sound ethic and just and effective socioeconomic policies, we must, wherever possible, remove all myths and falsehoods embedded in our theories.  I hope to create sufficient doubts regarding religious beliefs that people will pause before attempting to translate






their theological doctrines into public policy.  As I will amply demonstrate, it is the true believers, who attempt to back their beliefs with the power of the state, who have caused so much misery throughout history.  Doubt encourages tolerance.


            Given this rationale, I ask the reader to accompany me on a mental excursion, back through the accumulated religious traditions of Western society.  The trip won't always be easy; for some it may become too painful to continue.  It is extremely difficult—some would argue impossible—to discard beliefs which have been learned from parents and which are woven into the fabric of our culture.  Yet the further progress of our society requires that we perceive as clearly as possible the reality of the world as it actually exists, rather than a world of myths, no matter how intoxicating those myths may be.  In the long run, history has shown that intellectual hallucinogens will wreak havoc with any society.  The purpose of this volume is to clear away the sediment of thousands of years of myths and deliberate falsehoods in an effort to reach a bedrock of truth regarding Western society's Judeo-Christian beliefs."  [13].





The Origins of Religion:

In the Beginning There Was Ignorance


                                                Shabriri, briri, riri, iri, ri.


                                                                        —Judaic chant to ward off demons


Religion is easily stripped of its claim to a supernatural origin when examined from a naturalistic perspective.  In this chapter and the next I'll show that


the origins of religion can be traced to the fundamental psychological traits of humankind.  


Some of the most basic are:


   the need to explain natural phenomena such as birth and death, sunrise and sunset, fire and rain, the changing seasons, sickness and insanity, unusual geological formations and even the origin of humankind;


        the desire to control nature rather than be a helpless victim of impersonal forces; 






        the desire of some persons to control others through manipulation of basic fears and superstitions; and


        the usefulness of religion for developing social adhesion and control.'  [367].



'Using Immortality to Sell Christianity


A new theology of itself would have been tough to sell had Paul not had in reserve the ultimate elixir of the patent medicine trade—immortality—guaranteed to all who believed in his god.  Now, this was really something!  Kings and heroes always had the chance of making the leap to immortality with the gods.  But for the poor peons at the bottom of the social heap—who were the majority in those days—the best one could hope for was to end up as a vague "shade" wondering [I expected:  wandering] in Sheol (Hades).  The Christian concept of heaven, on the other hand, was pure bliss.  When the Greek philosopher Celsus criticized Christianity as blind faith, he was undoubtedly right; but what appealing alternative did he have to offer?  Only an inglorious end after a life of suffering.  Today many thousands commit suicide every year and risk eternal damnation just to end their wretched lives.  Is it any wonder that two thousand years ago many equally desperate people would soon be willing to throw down their miserable lives in order to attain eternal happiness?  After all, there have never been any complaints from disillusioned martyrs.


            The promise of heaven was recognized for its military value even before the dawn of Christianity.  Julius Caesar wrote that the Druids believed "the cardinal doctrine that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another and this belief, casting fear of death aside, they hold to be a great incentive of valor."18  Originally, the Judaic idea of an afterlife was similar to that of the ancient Greeks.  One fate awaited all:  after death they existed in Sheol as vague shadows of their former selves.  The books of Isaiah and Daniel allude to the resurrection, but it wasn't universal, rather it was for those who were particularly good during their lives on earth.  The prophet [writers of] Ezekiel coupled the kingdom of God with the doctrine that persons are rewarded in proportion to their righteousness or punished in proportion to their sins here on earth.19


            A more definite concept of heaven was offered by the Persian teacher and "Savior" Zoroaster, who lived about 600 B.C.E.  His concept was adopted by one of the Persian trading rivals, the Babylonians.






            In 586 B.C.E. Nebuchadnezzar II took Jerusalem and forced the Israelites into captivity.  It was during the two generations in Babylonia that the people of Israel were exposed to the Babylonian concept of an afterlife…' 




            'Many of the ancient pagan myths, rituals, and even statues were given a "face lift" and incorporated into Christianity [newer paganism]. 


It was a blatant, and incredibly successful, attempt to preempt the opposition.  There were, however, many persons who would not be taken in by ancient myths or new prevarications.  These were the seekers of truth—the true philosophers.  They were the descendants of Greek and Roman philosophers who tried to lift humanity from the darkness of superstition to follow the light of true understanding.  Through application of science and reason, these men saw the absurdity of belief in the gods.  Lucian of Samosata, for example, wrote satirical dialogues against religious beliefs and many of the more absurd metaphysical philosophies of his contemporaries.


            For a time, the descendants of the rational philosophical tradition were a source of irritation to Christianity, and the Church Fathers expended a great deal of energy fending off their attacks.  With the conversion[overstated] of Constantine, this annoyance was quickly suppressed.  Wielding the full military power of the state, the Church outlawed all dissent and ushered in a period of intellectual suppression unequaled in the history of the world.  For more than a millennium, any idea contrary to the doctrine of the Church was punishable by torture and death.  If one wishes to appreciate the intellectual environment during a period of an imposed state religion, look at the situation in Iran during the 1980s.  It is no coincidence that in both cases the wedding of church and state resulted in persecution and suppression.  In both cases, it was absolutely essential that all true intellectualism of any kind be snuffed out.  The Dark Ages were no accident; they were essential to the establishment of Christianity.  As John Gardner so graphically wrote in his little masterpiece, Grendel:  "Theology does not thrive in the world of action and reaction, change:  it grows on calm, like the scum on a stagnant pool and it flourishes, it prospers on decline [attractive expression, but:  more complex; does not account for imperialism, etc.]."26'  [385].



            "In the final analysis all theology, whether Christian or otherwise, is a marvelous exercise in logic based on premises that are no more






verifiable—or reasonable—than astrology, palmistry, or belief in the Easter Bunny.  Theology pretends to search for truth, but no method could lead a person farther away from the truth than that intellectual charade.  The purpose of theology is first and foremost to perpetuate the religious status quo.  Religion, in turn, seeks to maintain the social stability necessary for its own preservation.  Joseph Campbell explains:  "The paramount concern of a popular religion cannot be, and never has been 'Truth,' but the maintenance of a certain type of society, the incubation in the young and refreshment in the old of an approved system of sentiment upon which the local institutions and government depend."27


            As happens in all great movements built on a false premise, the seeds of the Church's undoing were sown during the period of its greatest apparent success.  Corruption and internal strife demonstrated that the Church hierarchy was no more godlike than any temporal institution.  At the same time, the European aristocracy became concerned about its own erosion of power.  Churches are supposed to support the state and vice-versa; when either seeks to usurp the powers of the other a mortal conflict will ensue.  And it oftentimes did.  A similar sequence of events could be traced in most of the other major world religions.

            The greatest blow to Christianity came with the invention of the most liberating tool in human history—Johann Gutenberg's [c. 1398 – 1468] printing press [and, the Internet?].  Despite the fact that Gutenberg's first publication was the Bible, the more perceptive clerics realized that the printing press was a grave threat to the Church's dominion over the human mind and sought to have it destroyed.  Unfortunately for the Church, others thought that it could be effectively controlled and utilized to the Church's advantage.  Although, as Galileo [1564 – 1642] and many others were to discover, the Church would never abandon the fight to retain control of the human mind, in the end the Church gradually lost ground."  [386-387].





Why the Myths Live On:


Today's Psychological Motivators


What the populace learned to believe without reasons, who could refute it then by means of reasons?            —Friedrich Nietzsche [1844 – 1900]


It would be tempting but overly simplistic to say that people flock to churches to be reassured that God does exist and all the promises of the Bible, especially an






afterlife, will come true.  But this is only part of the story.  Erich Fromm [1900 – 1980] wrote:  The influence of any doctrine or idea depends on the extent to which it appeals to psychic needs in the character of those whom it addresses.1  Shakespeare [1564 – 1616] expressed this idea more poetically in his play Henry IV:  "The wish is father to the thought."  The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the psychological needs religion fills.


            The philosopher David Hume [1711 – 1776] began to investigate some psychological aspects of belief in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), but Ludwig Feuerbach [1804 – 1872] was the first to fully explore the psychological basis of Christianity.  In 1841 Feuerbach published his classic work, The Essence of Christianity.  Although he explicitly examines Christianity, his psychological analysis could be extended to any religion.  Feuerbach postulated that God was no more than "the realized wish of the heart, the wish exalted to the certainty of its fulfillment, of its reality, to that undoubting certainty before which no contradiction of the understanding, no difficulty of experience or of the external world, maintains its ground."72  According to Feuerbach, the attributes of God are simply a projection of human needs, hopes and longings:  a being who is all-good, all-powerful, all-wise, all-happiness and, most of all, eternal.'  [389].



            'Ultimately, belief in God may be a genetically determined characteristic of human beings.  Sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson [born 1929] thinks that belief in God is a coping mechanism, fundamental to the very nature of our species:  "Beliefs are really enabling mechanisms for survival.  Religions, like other human institutions, evolve so as to enhance the persistence and influence of their practitioners."6  If Wilson is correct, as long as society fails to meet the psychological needs discussed below with more successful means, we might expect the belief in theism to continue.'  [390].



'The Universal Desire for Immortality


John Steinbeck [1902 – 1968] wrote:


After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he really existed.  He leaves his proof on wood, or stone, or on the lives of other people.  This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in the public toilet to the Buddha who etches his image in the race mind.7






            No doubt such a desire drives me to write this book [and me (LS)—this website].  However, for most people, simply leaving an artifact behind is not enough.  They can't bear the thought of leaving this life in the first place [describes me (LS)].  Based upon their own analysis and a review of other studies, [Michael] Argyle and [Benjamin] Beit-Hallahmi conclude that "this group of studies provides very strong support for the theory that fear of death [see, 2939-3058] is the basis for religious beliefs."8


            To say that most people believe in some sort of god is only to recognize that virtually all people would like to escape death.  I agree with Schopenhauer [1788 – 1860] that the fundamental purpose of religion, and hence the belief in God, is a desperate effort to escape mortality.  "For if one could establish their doctrine of immortality for them in some other way, the lively zeal for their gods would at once cool, and it would give place to complete indifference."9'  [391].



            'To make their adherents desirous of immortality, Christianity had to keep them focused on the inevitability and proximity of death.  The Christian funeral service does an excellent job of pressing upon the mind the imminence of death by reminding the living how temporal and fleeting is their stay here on earth.  They are told not to worry though, because this life is simply a "vale of tears."  So be happy at the thought of impending death because it is "only through dying that one can gain eternal life."  The entire ceremony is an apology for living.  Living for its part is virtually an evil for which one must atone by dying.  Christian prayers for the dead contain no reference to how sweet life can be or may have been to the deceased.  How much more life-affirming was the Native American philosophy that looked upon life as good and death as simply a natural event in nature's cycle of death and rebirth. 


The Epicurean philosophy—so often distorted by Christian theologians—also offered a positive outlook encouraging people to enjoy the feast of life and then graciously depart the banquet to make room for others.


            Death is the very mother's milk of religion.  During the Middle Ages, the plague sent thousands of poor, frightened people flocking to the churches.  In this century, war and the threat of it have been major boons to religion.  It is not surprising, then, that after the horrors of World War I, one Christian writer expressed a view undoubtedly shared by many others:  "If, even for a few generations, we act on our own conjecture of immortality, the larger vision, the more profound basis of purpose, will so advance human existence as to make this war worth its price."10  What he is really saying is that the growth in






religious fervor following a war is worth the horror and death.  In the post-World War II era many evangelists once again preached the apocalypse—this time an inevitable nuclear conflagration—in an attempt to scare people into their folds.


            If death is the ultimate incentive for religion, pleasure is the ultimate disincentive.  To make this life pleasurable distracts our focus from death and the desire for immortality.  Consequently, the need for religion is weakened.  Therefore, religions present pain as "purifying" and suffering as "ennobling."  Pleasure is equated with selfishness as if it were a contradiction of logic to state that an individual might seek both personal pleasure and the pleasure of others as well.  However, no such contradiction need exist if we recognize that there can be immense pleasure in helping others.


            In its effort to abrogate the joy this world can offer, religion focuses its attack on sexual pleasure….'  [392].



'The prospect of physical death is central to a brilliant marketing strategy employed by most religions.  In times of oppression, war, famine, and the like, religions stress the eternal salvation and heavenly bliss in store for the sufferer if only he/she accepts religion.  During periods of peace and prosperity religions must stress the inevitability of death and preach the fire and brimstone that await those who are enjoying this "fool's paradise."'  [393].



            'For many people religious organizations offer an escape from what Kurt Vonnegut believes is the most prevalent illness of the twentieth century—loneliness.  With children and parents dispersed throughout the country and the historic support system of the family breaking down, people often find themselves alone in a huge impersonal megalopolis, where even their next-door neighbors are unknown to them.  Like children without friends, they form relationships with an imaginary but socially acceptable friend, Jesus [in a Grace Baptist Church, I sung:  "What a friend we have in Jesus".  Moving!—then!,—and there].  Most often it is a harmless delusion, but in some cases it can be severely pathological.


            Frequently, joining a religious group, like any other club, is done merely for the opportunity it offers to meet people.  In fact, religious sects now regularly sponsor dances and social events to draw the lonely ones into their ranks.


            The psychological feeling of a "born again Christian" is oftentimes akin to that experienced by a new recruit to a motorcycle gang.  They are no longer alone but have a "family":  "This acceptance of a creed, any creed, entitles the






believer to membership in the sort of artificial extended family we call a congregation.  It is a way to fight loneliness." 12  Their religious group offers a small buffer from life's many bad knocks.  Freud observed that religion was a "source of comfort in response to the deprivation and suffering that society inflicts on certain groups."13  Seeing mankind at its very worst, people turn toward an ideal "mirror of man,"14 namely, God.  The extreme expression of this desire to escape an unbearable reality into a cocoon of security is offered by the monastery.  It is no wonder that the monastic movement gained a large number of new applicants after each of the world wars.


            The desire for security in a world fraught with change and uncertainty may result in a people seeking a paternalistic, caring god to protect and shelter them against the vicissitudes of life.  I refer to this conception of God as "Good Old Dad."  I know one woman who frankly admitted that in her mind God was synonymous with her father.  (Freud [1856 – 1939] would have had a field day with that one!)  Most people aren't that explicit, but at the subconscious level the link may be there.15  In a sense, it is a case of arrested development.  They are still looking for that voice of authority to decide moral dilemmas, a source of approval when they "do good," a source of comfort when they fail.  These roles, once filled by their earthly parents, are now satisfied by their imaginary father.  This may be especially true if their parents failed them in real life—the paternal role is idealized in and relegated to God.'  [394].



            'Feuerbach [Ludwig Feuerbach 1804 – 1872 (see, 3055-3058, etc.)] recognized the dubious psychological benefit that faith can bestow. 


"Faith gives man a peculiar sense of his own dignity and importance.  The believer finds himself distinguished above other men…in possession of particular privileges, believers are aristocrats."21  The saved can look down upon nonbelievers as damned or, at best, ignorant, unhappy souls who have not yet "seen the light." 


I have always marveled that the most superstitious, uneducated believer will look down upon a brilliant nontheistic philosopher and mathematician such as Bertrand Russell [1872 – 1970], or an astronomer such as Carl Sagan [1934 – 1996] as if both were ignorant of some special knowledge that the believer possesses [They call it "born again", "saved", "personal relationship with Jesus", etc.; this, trumps Bertrand Russell, et al.  Easy method to surpassing, and superiority.  Of course!, it is one-upmanship—offensive "bullshit"].'  [396].






'Escape from Responsibility


This all leads to my next point:  although Western religions rely heavily on guilt to keep their followers in line, belief in God is oftentimes used by believers as an escape from acceptance of personal responsibility both for one's own destiny and, more so, for the fate of others.  Even when the believers' world is crumbling around them due to their own mistakes, they can be comforted, secure in the knowledge that it is "God's will."  As Schopenhauer [1788 – 1860] pointed out, "it is far more endurable to have our misfortune brought clearly before us than our incapacity."28  I recall a friend's reaction when he went bankrupt.  A true believer in the most radical sense, he simply concluded that this was either God's way of punishing him for some past sin, or a way of testing him, just as Job was tested.  In either case, it was God's will and clearly not due to incompetence on his part.  I marveled that he never lost five minutes of sleep over the situation.  Indeed religion is a wonderful, although terribly addictive, drug.'  [400].



"The Free Lunch Syndrome


Most people want very much to believe there is someone who will give them something just for the asking. 


E. Haldeman-Julius [1889 – 1951] recognized the psychological similarity between the idea of God and that of Santa Claus,30 Santa Claus being an infantile notion of God…."  [401].



'The Need for Peer and Parental Approval


One of the great American myths is the stereotypical rugged individualist.  The truth is that most Americans, like all other people, are scared to death of individuality.  Psychologist Eric Fromm [1900 – 1980] observed:  "Man is, by origin, a herd animal.  His actions are determined by an instinctive impulse to follow the leaders and to have close contact with the other animals around him."31  Elsewhere, Fromm makes the chilling observation: 


"There is nothing inhuman, evil or irrational which does not give some comfort provided it is shared by a group."32'  [402].



            'It is a sad fact that most people's lives are primarily characterized by boredom and drudgery.  Lacking an appreciation of music, art, literature, or even an entertaining hobby, they seek escape through the exotic and/or






occult.  Religion fills the bill nicely.  It's small wonder, then, that no matter how inherently contradictory or downright absurd a religious dogma is, it remains a cherished belief for most members of society.  In fact, in Schopenhauer's opinion, "some absolute contradictions, some actual absurdities, are an essential ingredient in a complete religion,"44 since they give the appearance of greater profundity to most men.  M.D. Goulder correctly observed that


"when we remove the mist we remove the mystery."45 


Moreover, since people are told that by its very nature religion is incomprehensible to the ordinary mind, they can rationalize why it doesn't appear to make any sense.  The mysteries can be left to the priests who, since they allegedly speak for God, can provide explanations for the masses by means of simple, albeit meaningless, allegories.  Or people can opt out, completely suppressing all attempts at reason in favor of mysticism, and seek to "experience" God directly.  In any case,


religion performs the same function as all the other forms of psychic entertainment—escape from reality.'  [407].



            'Schopenhauer recognized that "priests…must impart their metaphysical dogmas to man at a very early age, before judgment has awakened from its morning slumber, thus in early childhood, for then every well-impressed dogma, however senseless it may be, remains forever."48  Echoing this sentiment, Charles Darwin [1809 – 1882] might have had a forethought of the bitter opposition his theories would face from religious leaders when he wrote that:


the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children [produces] so strong an effect…that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God as a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.49


            It is this desire for indoctrination that is behind the efforts of proponents of prayer in the classroom.  Prayer in itself isn't the issue, since children can pray to their heart's content at home.  What they seek is official support for prayer to pressure all children into accepting theism and, ultimately, Christianity.  Even a "moment of silence" would have the law of the land giving tacit support for theism.  Given the implicit endorsement of the federal government to the concept of prayer, which obviously implies a god, children will have an enormous incentive—perhaps pressure is a better word—to believe.  "The law of imitation operates and nonconformity is not an outstanding characteristic of






children.  The result is an obvious pressure upon children to attend."50  With these words, Justice Felix Frankfurter [1882 – 1965] recognized the true intent of the effort to introduce prayer into the schools.'  [408-409].



            "To sum up, it should by now be quite apparent that, in part, religion grew out of a need by early humans to explain and control the mysterious workings of nature.  However, the psychological needs and fears that theism and religious organizations exploit provide an even greater motivation to religious belief.  These include:


        the universal desire to escape death [see, 2939-3058];


        the need for identity and status (a sense of belonging to a group);


        the need on the part of certain individuals (priests and ministers) to exercise

power over others and secure a lucrative livelihood;


        the need for security in a world of increasing uncertainty;


        the desire for justice and / or revenge, in this world or in the hereafter;


        the inability to accept responsibility for one's errors;


        the desire for a reward to make up for present suffering;


        the desire to get something by merely wishing for it;


        the need for peer and parental approval coupled with the fear of social ostracism for not believing;


        the unwillingness or inability of people to break out of their ignorance;


        the entertainment value of believing in the occult; and


        intellectual conditioning by organized religion.


Rationalist Gordon Stein [1941 – 1996] offers a similar list of psychological motivations for believers.53  Argyle lists seven psychological roots of religious belief:  parent figure, conflict anxiety, need resolution, identity development, solving intellectual problems (recall the need to explain discussed in the last chapter), and biochemical processes (such [as] Wilson's sociobiology






theory).54  Brown adds two more:  social learning and external locus of control.55  As you can see, these lists approximate my own."  [410].



'Most people are familiar with Marx's statement which referred to religion as the opium of the people.  However, he is usually quoted out of context and the real significance of his observation is lost.  Marx [Karl Marx 1818 – 1883] wrote:


[Karl Marx] Man makes religion:  religion does not make man.  Religion is indeed man's self-consciousness and self-awareness so long as he has not found himself or has lost himself again….Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions.  It [Religion] is the opium of the people [from a professor of Karl Marx, Bruno Bauer (see, 107, 130, 416)]….Religion is only the illusory sun about which man revolves so long as he does not revolve around himself.59


It was, therefore, Marx's view that for people to give up the illusions which comprise religious belief would first require that society alter the conditions requiring the illusion.  For "it is not the consciousness of men which determines their existence but on the contrary, their social condition which determines their consciousness."60  Actually, as we have found out since the time of Marx, consciousness and existence are interactive and, as such, religious belief is even more fundamental to man's psychological makeup than Marx supposed.  But Marx, like Hume and Feuerbach, correctly recognized that humans create an image of God to meet their specific needs.  When needs change, the idealization of God changes.  Albert Schweitzer [1875 – 1965] argued [stated] that each period of history recreated Jesus in accordance with its own character.61'  [411].





Conclusion"  [439]


            'Not only is there no evidence for the existence of a god or gods [or goddess or goddesses] but the classic definition of God is fraught with contradictions that would make the existence of such a being as impossible as a square circle.  After thousands of years of using the term "God," and the sacrifice of millions of lives to support one conception of the term over another, we humans are still no closer to providing a meaningful definition.






            It is not difficult to trace the origins of myths concerning the gods.  Early man needed a simple explanation for the mysteries of nature.  Positing a being with human qualities not only explained the capriciousness of nature but offered primitive peoples the opportunity of swaying the intentions of the gods and, hence, the opportunity of controlling nature.  It is equally easy to understand the psychological motivations which refined the myths and continue to sustain them today.  People will always fear death, attempt to rationalize their hostility to others, and seek to escape loneliness.  Belief in God and religious affiliation fills these needs.  There are also potential penalties for opposing such beliefs, such as social ostracism.


            While the promoters of theism have powerful motivators, both psychological and monetary, to assist them,


there is no profit to be made by promoting nontheism. 


It's like forming a society of those who have neither seen nor believe in UFOs. 


Few people care passionately about what they don't believe.


            On balance, theism is neither beneficial nor even neutral to human beings.  Like a placebo, theism can effect cures.  It can also act as a drug to alleviate the pain associated with existence.  But in the long run it is an addiction that slows our efforts to understand human nature and hampers progress toward universal peace and happiness….'  [441].



            "In a 1992 lecture to the National Planning Forum, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger [born 1923] stated that following the fall of the Soviet Union one of the primary roles for the United States was to prevent Moslem fundamentalism from becoming the dominant force in Asia.1  His focus was to narrow: 


fundamentalism anywhere in the world is a threat to peace.  In the United States, Christian fundamentalism is the most serious threat to our freedom and social progress."  [442].






'I close with the words of a man who has written two sentences that have strongly touched my life.  His name is David Tribe [born 1931] and, after studying the legacy of freethinkers of the past in terms of such social advances as free, secular, and compulsory education; family planning; the role of women, and the like, he wrote:


[David Tribe (one of my (LS) favorites)] The influence of Freethinkers is not to be seen in the numbers that have joined their organization or stood up on the fringe to be counted…


It is the way people's vital secondary [personal] beliefs have been affected,


whatever their views of ultimate reality, whether they stay inside or leave the churches.3'  [443] [end of text].


l l l l l