Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene

More on Religion and Progress

A couple of addenda.

Yesterday, as I said, I was engaging in a bit of larkishness.1 But there is in fact a serious point behind it, one which, not surprisingly, Bavinck anticipated a century ago.

For one of two things is true: either religion essentially belongs to human nature and is therefore native to it, or humans were originally not religious beings, hence not humans but animals, and gradually evolved into religious beings. In the latter case religion is an accidental and passing stage in the process of evolution. The question with which philosophical inquiry finally ends is this: Were humans from the beginning, or did they gradually develop into, religious beings? Was culture or was coarse and savage nature the earliest condition of the human race? Is the beginning of humanity absolute or relative?…According to Scripture, humans were human beings from the first moment of their existence, created in God’s image, hence religious beings from that moment on. Religion was not something added later by a separate creation or a long process of evolution but is automatically implied in the fact of humanity’s having been created in the image of God. That original state has been corrupted and devastated by sin, to be sure, but human beings nevertheless remain related to God, God’s offspring, and continue to search for God and perhaps grope for God and find him (Acts 17:27)….[T]here is in human beings a certain faculty or natural aptitude for perceiving the divine. (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, p. 278)

As for death and how to deal with it, the issue has not gone away and still exercises the minds of rationalists.

And technology and the prowess of Promethean progress? Yes, that’s still around too.

  1. Not a neologism, though the Oxford English Dictionary only cites one use, from Some Records of the life of Stevenson Arthur Blackwood. Related to the adjective “larkish,” frolicsome. Sorry, I like words. A lot. And I plan to indulge my delight whenever…well, whenever, really.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.