Religion in the Industrial Revolution

“I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it.” -Albert Einstein

By : Duke Focalor

Religion. The ultimate lessons of peace, the ultimate tool of destruction. The ultimate conformity, the ultimate segregator. And most importantly, the ultimate lies about the ultimate truth. This is religion as fast as I could sum it up. I’m not going to lie about anything to make any readers “happy”, or “comforted”, This particular paper will focus on religion in the industrialization era. Before I begin, allow me to set the scene for living in this time.

You see the statue from the boat. The words at the base of it “Give me your tired,

your hungry, your poor…” excite you. You’re in a boat coming from Europe, into the promise land. You think of all the money you will have to send home, to your family back in Europe. This is where the jobs are. This is where freedom is. After getting off the boat, you are confronted with the cold, unforgiving city of New York. You can’t find a job anywhere, and when you find one, you are paid a wage so small you can’t even afford to clothe your family of four. You pray to your god(s) every night, but you never get a response. Your forced to have your children work. One day you receive a call saying your child has been killed at work. In the end, you ask yourself “Why me god?”. You still get no response. Welcome to the Industrial Revolution. “

The story above, however unlikely, is not mythical. Many immigrants coming over held tight to their religions, and as a product of this, communities of like-minded individuals came into existence. “Chinatown” is a prime example. Here you are most likely to find Buddhist influence. Had a Chinaman chose to live amongst his European

counterparts, he would be subject to their religion. There were not Christian churches in Chinatown, and there are not Buddhist worship grounds in the European neighborhoods. “Birds of a feather flock together”. This is even truer when talking about religion. The industrial revolution, arguably, started in the 1830’s. For our purpose, we will label industrialization as the time period falling between 1850, and 1920. This is era of some of the greatest intellectuals man has ever seen. Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and Karl Marx are among them. The latter three were all pioneers of religion in a sense. For once in history, people stood up and said, “Why do we learn things that make no sense?”. They are huge contributors to modern religion, or a lack of. Thomas Huxley, famous for debates with Catholic clergy, is probably the most obscure of these three men. He was in the company of both men at times, and was held in high esteem by both. He coined the word “Agnostic” to describe his beliefs of human stupidity on the topic of deities. Agnostics believe that the origin of the universe is a mystery, and will not be explained by any book, ancient or modern. Thomas Huxley used this phrase as a substitute for Atheism, which at the time was looked down on by the public. Charles Darwin, perhaps the most prominent of the three, is renown for his works on the origin of humans. He created theories, with factual proof as to the evolution of mankind. He sated once that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” My interpretation of this quote is that “The only people who say that science can not prove anything are those of ignorance, or those of religion”.

And thirdly, we talk about Karl Marx. Karl Marx is known for starting the philosophies of Marxism, a form of communism that has been misconstrued to the point where Karl Marx once said, “If that is Marxism, I am not a Marxist”. Karl Marx did not live in America, but he greatly contributed to the American philosophies on religion at during the Industrial Revolution. He was a known associate of Darwin, and the two even met on occasion. Marx’s thesis on religion can be summed up in a quote made by Marx himself: “Religion is the opium of the people”. His views are that religion is a way people make himself or herself feel better about their inferior lives, and give them a “purpose”. He states that religion is just a spiritual drug used by people. Karl Marx did not generally go down in history as a hero though, due largely to the fact of his views on communism. Religion is not without it’s boon though. It helps keep order in the streets. People who have nothing to live for suddenly are given something to live for. Those who otherwise would have killed, stolen, and lied now heal, give, and witness because of their religious values. The philosophical values on morals found in scripture can be precious though. Right now, you might be thinking: How do your personal views on such matters count as a report on religion during a certain period of time? Well, here is your answer. My views are a product f the Industrial Revolution. During this time, we changed from a highly religious society, to a highly economic society. Had the Industrial Revolution never had taken place, I would probably be writing a paper on how the Catholic reformation made a impact on my life today, and how it had brought us closer to god. I for one am in huge debt to the Industrial Revolution, for it was the first time many

intellects were allowed to publish their views regarding religion.

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