Is Western society based on anti-Scientism and anti-Christianism?

Muhammad Fakharuddin
7 min readOct 5, 2023
Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

Quite a bold claim!! to call a society in this age anti-scientism where everything that it values and is proud of is science and facts.

Strange for a society that is built on rationalism and has given modernity concepts like secularism, nationalism, liberalism, globalization, and all the technological advancement in communication; health sciences, and space to name a few to be labeled as against what it claims its foundation is built on. Science!!

So why the claim; we know that science is about experimenting; trying out all possible conclusions; reviewing and ensuring that there were no mistakes in the observation; checking on alternative theories and methods used for the measurement and then results were drawn after all those testing and experimentation.

Without going into much detail most of us understood modernity or the Age of Reason as a time between the 17th century to around 1930; when the church lost its power to rationality and individualism.

What happened is the church misused its power; took divine rights; and supported monarchs to hold control; in order to keep the status quo it suppressed individuals and their rights. But then people realized over time that the church; in order to wrest control and resources has been making all this up; this gave rise to thinkers and ideologues who started to contemplate their ideas through mind and rationality which are not driven by God and the Church and traditions.

The above version is a very oversimplified of history but the biggest result of the Renaissance and Enlightenment happens to be that religion and state branch themselves out, and people have accepted the fact that religion should not interfere in state affairs and is a cause of harm and suffering than good.

Most of the thinkers during that age were also against Christianity because the church was using religious authority to manipulate the power. Below are some of the famous thinkers operating in the era, who ended up defining modern thoughts of state, and social contract, influencing art, writing, and philosophy.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Emotional excitement reaches men through tea, tobacco, opium, whisky, and religion. ~George Bernard Shaw

The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known. ~John Stuart Mill

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. ~Blaise Pascal

Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion. ~Thomas Hobbes

Religion … the universal … neurosis of humanity. ~Sigmund Freud

Religion is all bunk. ~Thomas Edison

I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but ignorance.
~Christopher Marlowe

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches. — Benjamin Franklin

Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. — George Bernard Shaw

The hands that help is better far than lips that pray. — Robert Green Ingersoll

This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it. — John Adams

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. — Susan B. Anthony

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. — Voltaire

I know I am making a broad paintbrush stroke on all those writers, philosophers, and thinkers without diving into their thoughts, work, and experiences but there is a general conclusion that is happening.

Religion is bad and should not be used to take inspiration from; when building a new society; what is important is rational thinking, human experience, and individuality.

When we say religion is bad, it means all religions, every interpretation of Christianity; including that of any Abrahamic religion, all monotheistic or non-monotheistic religions; there is no good or inspiration to be taken from societies they have helped create. Since religion is mostly regarded as given by God, we do not accept any supernatural thing and we reject and despise all Gods.

Now back to the claim, what is the sample size when these writers, and thinkers were observing a society made dysfunctional by religions; that is mostly based on what is happening in Europe where religion is used as a tool to control the masses; denied of their rights and being persecuted. What is church doing at the time was using religion to gain power and resources that is a classic case of what happens in a dictatorial state; where someone in power (the Pope in this case) uses the trust enshrined in the authority and misuses it. Considering this background wanted to raise a few questions.

Why did the problem with the pope and church result in a situation where religion is termed as the source of problem while the authority misusing it should be criticized and punished?

Intellectuals of that time (in Europe) were not in contact with Eastern ideologies and culture of life and other religions like Islam; would they be aware of that or studied that; would still they would come to conclude that religion cannot be a source of creating a better harmonized society rather than only secularism.

If the Pope and Church had accepted Luther’s demand and accepted that they were misusing religion to gain and maintain power would still Intellectuals would be able to create an environment where there would be a need to step away from religion and put it in an individual category.

Why not intellectuals and philosophers, take inspiration from Islam's golden age where religion inspired people to study science and social issue and comes up with invention to serve humanity; they did not feel the need to separate state and religion or find religion interfering in matters of progress.

In Summary, a dispute within Christianity created a society in which the ideology that has been providing meaning and a sense of connection stopped producing light; a creed that has inspired art, culture, and architecture for centuries has been badly tarnished, now in this situation there was no fallback to, and people started looking inward to define meaning and found freedom from the church dogma. Similar ideas were generated in Intellectuals, thinkers, and writers of the time and they started to think differently and imagine a society in which individuals will reign supreme and they alone have the power to decide how they want to lead one’s life and be governed.

Fast forward to today (6oo years and counting); a society based on freedom, individualism, and rational thinking at its root, though able to make a lot of material progress (in medicine, space, communication, ..), but at the same time also has also given lots of products like Colonialism, Fascism, two World Wars and millions of deaths; Is again at the crossroad because its failing on most of the account of Social Progress: dwindling families, loss of community, identity crisis and loneliness, mental and drug crises, global war and dispute scenarios and climate catastrophe to name a few.

If we draw a parallel to society 6oo years ago we had an enemy “Pope and Church”, now. Who is to blame “individual and freedom”? so we are in kind of the same conundrum, nothing to fall back on whom we all agree and take inspiration from; we have our own identity, opinion, and thought but nothing that can unite and keep the ship calm in rough waters.

Can notice lots of writers, thinkers, and intellectuals are alluding to problems facing the West and sounding the doomsday scenario but then again solution portrayed by them applies to a group of society, nothing holistic.

Capitalism has created a set of Elites, who have created a vulture society and rat race, which again is driven by an individualistic and selfish gene, making us all real animals who care about ourselves and our families and no contribution toward community and greater self.

This is not an east vs. west debate. Muslim world contributed toward progress in its golden era, both materially, and in arts, culture, and philosophy, and took the whole of humanity forward with it, though it has its own political issues with which different groups were fighting or in conflict to gain control.

But on its end, it never attributed that to religion or problems with faith but toward human weakness, and also it never tried to push that thought or ideology on other nations like the West did in its prime and opened floodgates of war and destruction and mistrust toward its ideology. Muslim rule of Spain and India are examples where Islam took the color of culture and norms without reverting people of the area to follow a certain creed.

Prediction time: Cannot see a way out for the west; it has tied its legs and jumped into the waters of freedom without realizing it must untie it to swim. Now West has moved so far forward into this democratic liberal order, that academia and intellectuals cannot see past it to find an alternative or have the courage to go back in time and identify where the problem started.

Living in this supposedly ideal state West on the other side of the world has created destruction and suffering, which has created poverty, puppet and corrupt leadership, debt-ridden societies, and mass immigrant crises, where individuals are running toward the West for better economic conditions

The signs are that this situation of immigration and rising inflation across the globe will be used by a nationalist fascist leader (of the West) to generate hate against the community (probably immigrants) and they will be labeled as the new pope to get the society rid of. I want to be wrong on this account but then again rationality has its limitations.