With a lot of help from Christians for Darwin
(This story should have run yesterday, but Father’s Day took priority.)
A reader writes to remind us of a recent book, doubtless forgotten in the current silly season of new atheist claims, a Pulitzer-winning history of America during the period 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America,1815-1848:
The quotation proved the perfect choice, capturing the inventor’s own passionate Christian faith and conception of himself as an instrument of providence. As Morse later commented, the message “baptized the American Telegraph with the name of its author”: God. [footnote omitted] The American public appreciated the significance of the message, for biblical religion then permeated the culture in ways both conventional and sincerely felt. Morse’s invocation of the Bible typified that recurrent importance of religion which has long characterized American history.
Of course. Forbidding the study of the Bible in school helps keep people ignorant of the actual history of the Western democracies, and more pliable with respect to increasingly authoritarian rule. Textbooks can then fail to emphasize and make explicit the strong religious dimensions of struggles like abolition and the civil rights marches.
Morse’s synthesis of science and religion represented the predominant American attitude of the time; only a few eccentrics believed there was any conflict between scientific and religious truth. Revelation and reason alike, Americans were confident, led to knowledge of God and His creation. Religious awakening, expansion of education, interest in science, and technological progress all went hand in hand. – From Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, pp. 2-3 (New York: Oxford University Press 2007).
The reader who kindly sent this in notes that Howe, Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford, is not arguing a case, merely stating a fact in a largely axe-free general history of the period, part of the respected, multi-volume Oxford History of the United States.
That won’t help, of course, if airhead TV is into new atheism and the channel changer is bust again, or everyone watching has hand cramps.
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To all readers who are or have fathers: Happy (recent) Father’s Day!