Secular Reaction

My musings on religion and authority from last week have gone round Vladimir to Foseti to Aretae.

There are two ways to look at the historical relationship between the reformation, the enlightenment, and the unfortunate rise of the concept of popular sovereignty.

One is that privilege can only be tolerated if it is seen as having divine sanction: that if man denies God, he denies that anyone can have rightful authority over him. The reason popular sovereignty followed atheism is that it naturally follows from atheism. I thought it was worth throwing that idea out there because it's plausible and some serious thinkers have proposed it.

There is an alternative view, however, that the old order had used religion to bolster itself, and when rationalism started to show religious beliefs to be questionable, the political system associated with it came under immediate suspicion. According to this narrative, the reactionary case must be made on a rationalist foundation, or else it is always in danger of being undercut again.

That's my own view; since I have been persuaded by the secular argument for authority, it's evidently possible.

The dangerous factor is that what I call "the secular argument for authority" is non-obvious. If you start from scratch to produce a political theory from philosophical foundations, you're not likely to hit it — it really helps to have the evidence of the results of a naive rationalist political system in front of you to lead in the right direction.