The Foreword to the new book “The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: Conservative Humanism and the Western Tradition.”
The Arrival of Techno-Secularism
In the third century, the dissident Christian theologian Tertullian asked rhetorically in the midst of a theological controversy, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” He was condemning in effect the use of Platonic philosophy to defend the Christian religion and provide an intellectual basis for its theology.1 The theme of the two competing cities has characterized the relationship of Christianity and Western civilization to this day. According to Leo Strauss, Western civilization attains its vitality and uniqueness because in it two major sources of knowledge and inspiration are in contention: the secular and the revealed.2Perhaps, ironically, it has been the fact that integrating revealed knowledge, as found in the Bible and in religious tradition, with secular knowledge has never been actually accomplished so as to provide the essential motive force for the advance of Western civilization.
In the third century the form that secular knowledge took was the neo-Platonic philosophy that the Hellenistic culture of the time inherited from the Greeks, hence Tertullian’s reference to “Athens.” This was the same neo-Platonism later integrated into Christian theology by St. Augustine. While the source of revelation remained constant—the Gospels and the authority of the Western and Eastern bishops of the Christian church—the source of secular knowledge changed, from ambient neo-Platonism in the late ancient world to re-discovered Aristotelianism in the high middle ages.3In modern times, however, secular knowledge has been represented not by ancient philosophy, but by modern empirical science, and the conflict has continued under the rubric of “religion versus science.” It is in this context that the 150-year-old controversy between evolution and religion is best understood.
Professor Stephen J. Gould has recently published a book, Rocks of Ages, whose tone is, if not elegiac, somewhat tired, for in it Gould gives us the benefit of a professional lifetime’s effort of a Darwinian publicist and scientist struggling with the religious enemies of Darwinian evolution.4It may seem odd, therefore, that in this small book Gould praises no less than three popes, including Pius the Ninth, Pius the Twelfth, and John-Paul the Second. There is a reason for this, however, for the latter two popes published documents permitting Catholics to research and even to accept some of the main tenets of evolutionary “orthodoxy,”5excluding the materialist thesis that all life is solely a mechanical process and asserting that all human beings have been provided by the Creator with an immortal soul. It appears that Gould is setting these popes as a firewall against the objections of religious critics, including neo-Creationists and Fundamentalists who oppose Darwinism as atheistic and unscriptural.
American public opinion has never accepted Darwinism wholeheartedly and some serious thinkers continue to make effective responses to it, most recently Michael Behe in Darwin’s Black Box.6And while neo-Creationists may have lost recent court cases, their argument that alternatives to Darwinism ought to be presented in high schools is an agreeable one to Americans. Gould probably fears that, at some point, one of these cases is going to incorporate the contention that American citizens ought to have a say in what their children are taught in public schools. It is in this light that his book must be seen. Gould’s proposed resolution of the religion/evolution controversy he calls “NOMA,” an acronym for “non-overlapping magisteria.” The basic idea is easily expressed; science and religion occupy their own “frames” (a term he borrows from G.K.Chesterton) and each field should not exceed its proper limit. Gould willingly concedes that evolutionists have often overreached with declarations about matters that are religious, but of course his main concern is with religious believers who use revelation and the Bible to confute evolution.7
The frames are important for Gould since he believes that if science and religion stay within their own frames, there will be no further conflicts and neither side will be able to suppress the other. It sounds plausible, but religious believers who accepted Gould’s NOMA would accept a losing proposition since he clearly expects that science will continue, as it has in the past, to confine religion to ever narrower and more constricted frames, while science expands its own frame into areas formerly occupied by religion. Gould’s view of religion is completely secular: religion is something that cannot be ignored because of its influence, but it is also something that should be kept within rigid social boundaries. As one critic has pointed out, Gould’s understanding of religion is “glaringly inadequate” and includes none of the things we normally associate with it, even belief in God.8
The surprising thing about Gould’s NOMA proposal is that it is not new, and that he apparently does not realize it. In the thirteenth century at the University of Paris such a proposal was the thesis of a group of philosophers including Siger deBrabant, who was accused of proposing the theory of the “double truth.” In those days, the issue of conflict was not the Bible versus evolution but the tradition of revelation versus the newly discovered philosophy of Aristotle. A group of radical theologians, including Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, was attempting to fuse this newly-found secular knowledge with Christian revelation and was facing heavy opposition from reactionary theologians. Siger’s double truth theory, like Gould’s NOMA, was meant to alleviate a conflict that had become fierce and would eventually bring an ecclesiastical condemnation of Aristotelianism.9Thomas Aquinas, however, vehemently opposed the theory of the double truth with his famous dictum that all truth, secular and revealed, is from the Holy Spirit.10
While it is useful to understand the present debate surrounding evolution as the latest reflection of an age-old contest between secular and revealed knowledge, there does seem to be something different, and more oppositional, in this latest incarnation. Perhaps the reason we sense this is that we are going through it, but I do not think that our sense of an ultimate conflict between secular and revealed knowledge is just a question of a loss of historical perspective. The reason is that Greek philosophy acknowledges the reality of spirit and the existence of God, while science tends, as Cardinal Newman pointed out, to be atheistic. In other words, St. Augustine and St. Thomas had an easier time of it because both neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism are philosophies which acknowledge, indeed attempt to prove, the existence of one immaterial God, the reality of mind, and the immortality of the human soul, while modern science emphatically does not. Further, science denies the legitimacy of the perception of purpose in the universe and pursues a reductive agenda that attempts to de-legitimize revealed knowledge. With the rise of modern science, what had previously been a controversy among theological academics has become a steel-cage death-match.
The present state of affairs is that, in Western culture, religion is in retreat as part of civil discourse, even in debates where religious input would be most helpful such as human cloning or fetal research, while science and utilitarian ethics have seemingly captured the field. Apparently, the tension between secular and revealed knowledge in its present form of science versus religion has been resolved; science has won and religion is irrelevant, as a mere survivor from a less progressive time such as the Dark Ages or the 1950s. It must be admitted that there are good intellectual reasons, translatable into formal arguments, for opposition between modern science and revealed religion (just as there are good reasons to observe their deep commonalities).
Science has its own implied metaphysics of Galilean atomism, which reduces physical reality to abstract mass points while discounting colors, motion, and other evidence of our senses as “secondary” qualities. Science has its uncompromising theory of causality which combines materialism with mathematics so that the actions of bodies can be understood dualistically as contact and movement of basic particles on the one hand, and as the result of invisible forces described by calculus or probability on the other. Science also benefits in the latest version of the conflict from its own proclamations of impartiality, and from the putative superiority of its method, which supposedly produces at the end of its process a sure result, undeniable and irrefutable, so unlike theology and metaphysics. The triumph of the secular in our culture is largely the result of the triumph of empirical science; and considering the formidable arsenal of scientistic arguments it seems as if scientific secularism might have finally carried the day among Western intellectuals.
The triumph of science over religion comes at a peculiar time, insofar as science itself faces challenges to its cultural hegemony as never before since the Enlightenment. It is challenged not by a Romantic rejection of its distancing from humane values and religious context, but by the denial of its very basis that science is a special method of discovering ultimate truth. This challenge comes from within college and university faculties where post-modernist academics have developed entire schools of the denial of meaning in language and of the cultural relativity of truth, and who, after attacking the humanities and social science, are now aiming at the hard sciences. In this context, science is fighting for its academic life, for the oxygen of intellectual probity, and for the continued acknowledgment of its epistemological superiority, which has provided scientists with approbation, authority, and funding. This postmodernist movement among philosophers, littérateurs, historicists, sociologists, feminists, and multiculturalists is anti-progressive, of course, more reactionary in its way than the theologians and Aristotelian philosophers who fought against Galileo and who at least believed that the universe could be understood by the human intellect.11Nonetheless, the left-wing challenge comprises an intellectual challenge that has not yet been successfully met by defenders of scientific objectivity.
The triumph of science would seem to have been further obstructed by developments from within science itself, since some of its basic theories, especially in physics, have developed beyond the simple-minded materialism characteristic of nineteenth-century thinking. Relativity theory and quantum physics propel us into levels of physical and methodological speculation so abstract that philosophers and theologians have now re-entered controversies about cosmology.12A further effect is that pop culture now freely uses the terms of contemporary physics such as “quantum jump,” “expanding universe,” “uncertainty principle,” “anthropic principle,” “event horizon,” and “Big Bang.” Within his own field of evolutionary biology, Gould has been involved in sharp controversies surrounding determinism and chaos, and he has been accused by other evolutionists of giving inadvertent support to neo-Creationist deniers of Darwinism. The upshot of all of these developments is that, as John Polkinhorne has stated in the arena of religion/science conflicts, “the days of the knock-down argument are over.” This is to say that there are no longer the triumphant put-downs available that can be cited as proof that scientific reason must prevail over religious revelation such as enabled Laplace to assure the Emperor Napoleon that God was an unneeded hypothesis.
Yet scientific secularism still prevails even as we are beyond the deployment of formal arguments in civilized contexts, as when Bertrand Russell debated Father Copleston on the BBC about the existence of God. Today, instead, the formal science versus religion debate has become so trivialized that the form has been satirized by Monty Python, and has degenerated to the point where a revival underwritten by the Templeton Foundation that took place in 1999 between two particle physicists was notable not for the deployment of further refined arguments but for John Polkinhorne’s sanguine assertion that religion and science are no longer in opposition, and Stephen Weinberg’s assertion that religion is “an insult to human dignity.”13Not only is the day of the knock-down argument over, but also it seems as if the day of any argument is over in the formal sense. And as Gould’s Rocks of Ages implies, the current state of the science versus religion controversy can no longer be settled decisively in intellectual terms. Which means, too, that, in the pure intellectual sense at least, science and religion have gained some form of parity.
But, then, in what terms can the present state of the science versus religion controversy be understood if not in intellectual terms? What has transpired so as to leave science triumphant despite ferocious questioning of its methodological legitimacy from left-wing academics, and despite its recent turn to high abstractions amenable to philosophical and theological treatment?
Dr. Robert Coles claims in his book The Secular Mind that the origins of secularism and its recent upsurge are not to be found so much in scientific thought as in the nature of religious faith itself. As religious ideals rub up against the quotidian, he argues, secularism as a form of doubt becomes the inevitable psychological complement to faith. He quotes a conversation with Catholic activist Dorothy Day:
I think you underestimate doubt as a constant part of faith—in any century; and I think you are making too much of science [and social science] as the [recent] “causes” of secularism. I don’t deny that today there is the authority of scientific knowledge to elicit or encourage or give a kind of imprimatur to secularism; but for Heaven’s sake, the secular world has always been “there” or “here.” . . . 14
On the other hand, Coles’s meditations are in response to the dramatic event of Freudianism replacing religion in the treatment of individuals suffering from mental distress. As a psychiatrist and a man of religious sensibility, Coles might well be expected to put the issue of contemporary secularism in the context of the stresses attached to personal religious belief, yet the circumstances of Coles’s writing his book belie his understanding of doubt as a constant twin of religious faith since what he is describing is the displacement of religious concepts by those of science. It is true as Dorothy Day points out that there was secularism before there was science, but now secularism has become a social movement defended by philosophers, scientists, politicians, and writers. It is not enough therefore to see secularism as another name for doubt and as the inevitable complement of religious faith, for this subtle psycho-theological observation does not explain the rampant secularism seen in the present day, and science as its chief agent.
How science changed from a form of praise of God the Father’s creation by such early giants as Galileo and Newton into an aggressive competitor of religious faith was a long process. One influential American philosopher provides an illustration of how this transformation happened, not as an unintended consequence but deliberately. In 1902, William James published his Gifford Lectures, The Varieties of Religious Experience.15One hundred years later, the book has been republished by the Modern Library, which reflects its importance as a cultural event, for its initial publication was a transition point from a science whose purpose was to reflect the glory of God to a science whose intent is to replace religion with the glorification of the human intellect. The Varieties of Religious Experience has been influential precisely because it is not an example of blatant atheism but because it proceeds more subtly and more powerfully as a phenomenology of religious experience, examining religious belief not in doctrinal or historical terms, but by means of the then newly developing science of empirical psychology.
James’s book largely consists of reports of religious experiences, internal states which a subject connects with divine or other external spiritual entities, and which James analyzes in terms of his pragmatic theory of truth. His conclusion is that such experiences do not validate any particular religious tradition and especially not the Calvinist Protestant tradition. James’s case against the Protestantism of his day as a form of psychological strain and excess is easy to make since he defines all religious experiences in psychopathological terms, and applies a practical, business-like criterion of meaning to them.16On the other hand, James’s phenomenology of religious experience tends against a reductive point of view for he takes reports of religious experience at face value, and thereby eliminates the intellectual possibility of scientific materialism.
Metaphysically, James reached the conclusion that the variety of religious experience was best explained not as a duality of mind and matter, that is, as a competition of religion versus secularism, but as a monism which combined both elements of mind and matter and could support either religion or secularism. Such an approach may seem expansive or contradictory or even two-faced, leaving James’s readers to wonder what side he is really on. But as a practical matter, given a choice between the opportunity to make good in a time of burgeoning industry and commerce, or the stringent demands of Calvinist ethics, who would embrace the latter?
Socially, what James accomplished was to provide a scientific rationale for displacing evangelical Protestantism with a variety of freethought among the elites of American society. His philosophy of religion made possible indulgence in new kinds of religious experiences, including spiritualism, reincarnation, theosophy, and Eastern mysticism, but without the elements of judgment and hell-fire. In this way, James was the prophet of a self-affirming “new-age” religion. It was a time when technology and industry were radically transforming American life, and when the glorification of business and greed (seen in the gospel of Herbert Spencer’s philosophical evolutionism) was destined to come into conflict with the rigorous ethics of the Calvinist Christian gospel that counseled humility, charity, and subservience of self, which are hardly the ethical ideals to suit the exploitation of business opportunities.
James eases the way for a secular outlook by applying his famous pragmatic theory of meaning to religious beliefs in which practical effects are their warrant for validity and value. An example is his harsh criticism of Theresa of Avila whose extraordinary mystical experiences had, he says, only a “paltry” practical effect.17Theresa was the most realistic of mystics whose works had great practical effect, but for James the reform of the convent system in Renaissance Spain and the enhancement of the spiritual life of Christians through her writings are not practical enough. Frequently he uses the phrase “cash value” as a metaphor for the pragmatic theory of meaning, but in time the reader begins to realize that “cash value” is not a metaphor but something that designates the real sense of what James believes the value of words and beliefs to be.18
In effect I have presented James’s famous book as if it were an ideology, that is to say, less the product of the independent thought of a philosopher than a reflection of the change in the technological structures of production, to use a Marxist turn of phrase. This is justified I believe because the practical effect of such thought is the criterion James employs in judging others. The cash value of his The Varieties of Religious Experience is that it gave leave to the elites of American society to disregard the stringent ethics of Calvinistic Protestantism and to invent an ersatz spiritual life for their own comfort. In this way, the business ethic was able to overcome the Protestant ethic, and technology succeeded in displacing religion so as to give secularism a social reality it had never had before in American life and thought.
In our own day, a technologically-based secularism threatens to displace religion entirely from the national consciousness. However, the success of secularism is based on the effects of technological advance rather than on the victory of scientific ideas in the conflict with religious beliefs. It would be impossible to describe the impact of technology on contemporary life in a few words, since its presence is ubiquitous and its manifestations manifold. One point of recent technological development is worth making in general terms, namely, how technology itself is evolving from its nineteenth-century mechanical phase to a twenty-first century phase that can be called “magical.” That the difference is qualitative and not merely quantitative can be imaged by means of the steam engine and the personal computer.
In Victorian times, steam power was the main force used for technological advance, most obviously the steam-train engines which even today have not lost their evocative power. The point of the nostalgia is that every aspect of the technology of a steam engine was open and available for inspection: the fire box, the water pipes, the steam valves, the reciprocating rods, the driving wheels. The immense force of steam power pulling tons of iron and steel was understandable just by observation; there was romance but no mystery. Today, however, the most typical example of technology is not the steam engine but the computer whose product is not motion and force but organized information. The appearance of words on a computer screen can, of course, be connected to the keys we hit on a keyboard, but we cannot see the causal links from the keyboard to the screen, for the keystrokes are transmitted by an electronic and not a mechanical process unlike the typewriter. If we take apart the computer we see elements such as an electric motor, a fan, a transformer, cables and wires, boards and chips, but they do not directly convey how the process of computerization takes place since the calculations, the sorting and arranging of data, are done within the chip which has no moving parts. Thus the computer’s workings remain a mystery even after inspection of its innards. Effectively, it is a “black box” whose inner logic and workings are unknown to us. Unknowable, it is unrepairable by its users, and, as with many appliances today, repairmen will tell us that it is cheaper and more efficient to replace it than to fix it. We have retreated from mechanical explanations in terms of Victorian forces—explicit, competent, and muscular—to a postmodern realm of magic and astonishing effects whose causes cannot be explained—mysterious and astonishing, the province of experts who regard us with contempt.
The transformation of technology from a mechanical to a magical phase indicates its enormously enhanced power and influence. Steam trains provided a replacement for horses and walking, but information processing is so prevalent that even if we do not own a personal computer we are nonetheless beholden to computerization in stoves, television sets, weaponry, and libraries. Technological effects have acquired a life of their own, achieving a qualitative level of change so that now technology possesses its own ethics, theology, and unanticipated consequences. The displacement of religion from our civic life is largely the effect of technological ubiquity and power rather than the result of direct cultural and intellectual causes. This is a phenomenon which I call “Techno-Secularism.”
One particularly important result of technological ubiquity is the degree to which it has sustained and extended the power of the state over our lives. The increase in the amount of data and reports required of corporations, colleges, businesses, and non-profit institutions, and in the amount and particularity of regulations imposed upon them, is made possible by the increased sophistication of our technology. The recent electronic revolution has only intensified the impulse to the bureaucratization of power that followed upon such technological advances as air mail, carbon paper, telephones, skyscrapers for office space, mechanically-powered transportation, typewriters, and, not least, automatic weapons. Computerization in the ability to replicate, organize, and transmit data electronically over the WEB has made possible an even more incredible expansion of federal and state control over human lives. The technologically-amplified power of the bureaucratic state has made the state the chief object of concern and worry of its citizens since its permission and benefits are required to conduct virtually every aspect of the daily business of contemporary life.
What we emphasize here are techno-secularism’s ethical and religious dimensions, which are mediated through its implicit concepts as well as its practical effects. Techno-secularism has an implicit ethical theory which is instrumental, accepting that what technology can provide should be used for the betterment of the human condition without consideration of prescriptive ethical rules and humane traditions. It is utilitarian, opting for the greatest good for the greatest number, except that the “good” is understood in relentlessly material terms amenable to technological control. The ethic is eudaemonic rather than hedonistic, concerned with bodily well-being rather than maximization of pleasure. The techno-secular ethic is diet-conscious, encourages the drinking of light wines rather than beer or whiskey, is anti-smoking, promotes safe sex, and is mightily concerned with a long, fulfilled, healthful life. It is nonetheless a materialistic ethic with a “horizon” that ends with death, and that encourages a fearful rather than heroic lifestyle, justifying abortion and euthanasia because of the excessive demands children and the aged now make—disfiguring women’s bodies, taking up precious time (the one commodity that, oddly, technology cannot provide in abundance), and stultifying the careers and personal goals of both men and women.
Techno-secularism is fearful even before the fact of death, fearing the incompetence and dependence of old age, sequestering death, unseen, to hospital rooms and the ministration of “experts” on death and dying. Emphasis is now put upon extending the period of healthful, fulfilled living for as long as possible, putting forth the possibility of extending youthfulness by medical technology, and even of technologically-sustained immortality in the form of cryogenics and cloning. Avoiding the inevitability of death, techno-secularism refuses to deal with the issue of what comes after death—if anything; its ethos is formed without reference to God and religion, since they are possibilities that extend beyond its horizon.
With regard to religion, techno-secularism attempts to “empty out” the doctrinal teaching from religious belief in order to co-opt religion’s ability to change lives and to generate major social movements which are, in James’s terms, religion’s “cash value.” Techno-secularism has a fear of religion’s ability to influence people and social events, and occasionally attempts to re-focus religious belief from religious ends to those in line with the aims of the bureaucratic state. However, in order for religion to “work,” the religious believer must actually think that the objects of his beliefs are real and that the doctrines of his religion are true. Techno-secularism hits fatal shoals at this point, for it cannot provide a doctrine which it itself believes and that will motivate others in a religious way.19Unable to divorce cause from effect, in short, the content of religious belief from its effectiveness as a personal motivator and social force, techno-secularism relies on the smooth and unnoticed transition from faith-based explanations to scientific causes—the result not of logical arguments but of the ubiquity of technology in our daily lives. In this way magic has made a revival as the unseen scientific causes of technology are appealed to for the improvement of our lives, while true religion is trivialized and marginalized seemingly without effort. But can Western civilization survive after Athens triumphs completely over Jerusalem, and if so for how long and in what condition? Does the City on a Hill become a slum?
A technologically-supported secularism would seem to make men as gods whose mere desires transform material reality to suit their needs. The great danger is that moral reality is also thereby transcended since the success and the power of latter-day technology make possible a whole range of human behaviors formerly thought immoral, allowing us to define deviancy down, in Moynihan’s useful phrase. What develops with the death of the transcendent is the loss of the “reality principle,” because many formerly deviant behaviors will no longer have negative effects. A downtown business owner whose storefront is broken into calls the police, perhaps, but he calls his insurance agent first. Replacing the plate glass is nearly painless since insurance covers the cost and plate glass is readily available, and thus there is much less motive to pursue the vandals. Pain and obloquy at one time imposed on the evil-doer have been replaced by slightly increased levels of taxation and insurance premiums. Vandalism covered by insurance has become a pastime instead of a crime.
St. Paul reminds us that the reality principle has Edenic origins, and that reality’s lessons are not avoided, only deferred. The Bible holds up an ideal of God’s kingdom here on earth, but what happens when the heavenly vision is replaced by a secular one? Shop owners in urban areas can only rely on their business insurance a limited number of times before their premiums reach unsustainable levels. And then, as stores are vacated, they are set aflame, and what was formerly a thriving downtown area becomes a haven for drugs and crime. The children of the area, educated in a bureaucratic milieu that stresses the secular values of toleration and self-expression, have been given no training in self-discipline or respect for others. They sink into crime and gang behavior.
This situation does not end here. Several years ago in the city of Boston, when violence among inner-city teenagers became severe, the mayor conceded that government programs alone were insufficient to solve the problem, and he called upon the churches to play a larger role in civilizing the city’s young men.20The irony was that a liberal mayor, Raymond Flynn, did not so much ask for the help of organized religion, but demanded it even though he was part of a secular welfare-state regime which explicitly worked to displace religion and private charity from the civic arena. What happened in the city of Boston (and in other cities) is now being played out on a national level with President George Bush’s attempt to use faith-based institutions to alleviate social problems. On the practical level if not yet the intellectual level, religion’s cash value cannot be dispensed with.
- Frederick C. Copleston, Medieval Philosophy (New York, 1961), 10.
- See Jeffrey Hart, “Literature and the Foundations of the West,” Modern Age, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Winter 2000), 63–71.
- Copleston, 13, 14.
- Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (New York, 1999).
- The term “orthodox Darwinism” and “central dogma” are frequently, and revealingly, used by evolutionary scientists to describe the core tenets of the contemporary theory of evolution. Gould is not seen as someone who subscribes to the “orthodox” view.
- New York, 1997. See my review in Chronicles, November 1997.
- Rocks of Ages,125–150.
- John Carey, in the (London) Sunday Times, “Books,” January 28, 2001.
- Copleston, 104–105.
- See, among other treatments by St. Thomas, Chapter Seven of Book One of the Summa Contra Gentiles, “That the truth of reason is not opposed to the truth of the Christian Faith.”
- For a response to the attacks on scientific objectivity written by two scientists, see Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science (Baltimore, 1998).
- See Stephen E. Toulmin, The Return to Cosmology: Postmodern Science and the Theology of Nature, (Berkeley, 1982). Toulmin is a highly regarded philosopher of science.
- New York Times, April 20, 1999, D-5. Also see the account in The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 30, 1999, 17, 18.
- Princeton, 1999, 40. The entire passage, which runs three pages, is worth reading.
- New York, 1999.
- Ibid., 9, 11, 29, in Chapter One, “Religion and Neurology.”
- Ibid., 379, 380.
- James’s appreciation for the cash value of ideas reflects the fact that the family had been left well-to-do by the financial success of his grandfather, which enabled William, his brother Henry and their father Henry, Sr., to pursue successful lives of study and writing.
- Dianetics, the movement founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, is an explicit attempt to organize a religion on a technological basis, but has not been notably successful except among Hollywood movie actors.
- See Flynn’s “State of the City” speech, reported January 13, 1989, in The Boston Globe. Flynn was ambassador to the Vatican in the Clinton administration.
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