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Bachmann Anti-Enlightenment? You're Surprised?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyAugust 12, 2011 12:07 AM


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There is much dissecting of the New Yorker profile of Michele Bachmann, and much amazement that, hey, she digs conservative Christian thinkers who come from a different galaxy than secular liberals. So here's the L.A. Times blog Culture Monster, discussing two of Bachmann's intellectual influences, Nancy Pearcey and Francis Schaeffer:

Pearcey's book lauds Schaeffer's empathy for artists who are "caught in the trap of false and harmful worldviews" -- specifically, those that have trickled down from wicked Renaissance humanism. "As the medieval period merged into the Renaissance (beginning roughly in the 1300s)," she wrote, "a drumbeat began to sound for the complete emancipation of reason from revelation -- a crescendo that burst into full force in the Enlightenment (beginning in the 1700s)." Darn that Enlightenment! Next thing you know it will be birthing truly dangerous ideas, like secular democracy.

I used to write commentary like this. I don't any more. The reason is that I'm no longer at all surprised to hear that the Enlightenment is what actually divides us. This reality is written all over every single aspect of American politics, after all. If you are someone who craves "total truth" (the title of Pearcey's book), and wants uncertainty completely vanquished, you aren't going to opt for fricken modern science, after all. Religion is going to be a heck of a lot more consoling, and especially its most fundamentalist versions. What we have to recognize is, despite Enlightenment achievements in knowledge and in politics, people didn't change. They're still the same as they always were. The irony is how the people who grok Enlightenment still manage to remain so un-Enlightened about the people who don't.

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