From Dostevsky’s Demons, Part II. Night
Not a single nation,” he went on, as though reading it line by line, still gazing menacingly at Stavrogin, “not a single nation has ever been founded on principles of science or reason. There has never been an example of it, except for a brief moment, through folly.
Socialism is from its very nature bound to be atheism, seeing that it has from the very first proclaimed that it is an atheistic organisation of society, and that it intends to establish itself exclusively on the elements of science and reason.
Science and reason have, from the beginning of time, played a secondary and subordinate part in the life of nations; so it will be till the end of time
Nations are built up and moved by another force which sways and dominates them, the origin of which is unknown and inexplicable: that force is the force of an insatiable desire to go on to the end, though at the same time it denies that end.
It is the force of the persistent assertion of one’s own existence, and a denial of death.
It’s the spirit of life, as the Scriptures call it, ‘the river of living water,’ the drying up of which is threatened in the Apocalypse.
It’s the æsthetic principle, as the philosophers call it, the ethical principle with which they identify it, ‘the seeking for God,’ as I call it more simply.
The object of every national movement, in every people and at every period of its existence is only the seeking for its god, who must be its own god, and the faith in Him as the only true one.
God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end.
It has never happened that all, or even many, peoples have had one common god, but each has always had its own.
It’s a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common.
When gods begin to be common to several nations the gods are dying and the faith in them, together with the nations themselves.
The stronger a people the more individual their God.
There never has been a nation without a religion, that is, without an idea of good and evil.
What chance do we have, could we possibly have? We have only reason and science, and they have religion and God, not to mention their endless supply of conspiracy theories which need only the thinnest of formulations to find takers ready to believe and follow.
Religion enables its people to be exclusive, banishing things and people that don’t fit.
Science (ok,our God if you will) encourages us to be inclusive, including everything in the mix.
Has religion always won in the inevitable battles with science? Has exclusion won out over inclusion? Well up until now that does seem to be the case, and in spite of science having, in mid 19th century, let loose the calvalry, the evolutionary horsemen of Charles Darwin.