Will and Ariel Durant on religion, morality, and the state

One passage that stuck out to me in The Lessons of History came at the end of the chapter “Religion and History”:

Puritanism and paganism— the repression and the expression of the senses and desires— alternate in mutual reaction in history. Generally religion and Puritanism prevail in periods when the laws are feeble and morals must bear the burden of maintaining social order; skepticism and paganism ( other factors being equal) progress as the rising power of law and government permits the decline of the church, the family, and morality without basically endangering the stability of the state. In our time the strength of the state has united with the several forces listed above to relax faith and morals, and to allow paganism to resume its natural sway. Probably our excesses will bring another reaction; moral disorder may generate a religious revival; atheists may again (as in France after the debacle of 1870) send their children to Catholic schools to give them the discipline of religious belief. (50)

The first part of this paragraph makes a point similar to the one made by Patrick Deneen in some of his recent articles (see here and here).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s