Book Summary Essay, Research Paper
Man Against Darkness W.T. Stace
Man Against Darkness is an essay written by W.T. Stace. He presents the philosophical background for the existential stance of the modern world. He tries to explain why religion no longer plays an important part in the modern world and what causes people to lose faith in religion.
He begins his essay by explaining the viewpoint of the Catholic bishops of America and compared it to the idea of Jean-Paul Sarte, the French existentialist philosopher. The bishops believe that the chaotic state of the modern world is due to man s loss of faith, and the abandonment of God and religion. W.T. Stace does not believe in religion at all, yet he completely agrees with the bishop s statement. Jean-Paul Sarte is an atheist and his view also supports the statement of the bishops. Jean-Paul Sarte explains that, in the early days men depended on God as the source of moral ideals. Now, men understand that the world is not ruled by spiritual forces, but rather by invisible forces. Therefore; our morals must come from our mind, and we are the one who decides what is right and what is wrong.
Stace, then later goes on to explain Mr. Betrand Russel s idea, which was different from both the bishops and Jean-Paul Sarte. Mr. Russel believes the religion has done more harms than good and the disappearance of religion will be a blessing to human being. Mr. Russel s idea is the same as that of M. Sarte. He stresses that man is alone and friendless in the world. Mr. Russel also notes that science produced such situation. It is science that made people lose faith in religion. Stace explains that scientists do not interested in questions such as is there god? Or what s the meaning of life? They only interested in understanding the processes rather than the purposes. They only ask questions that begin with how but not why.
Along with the ruin of the religious vision there went the ruin of moral principles and values. Morals are human inventions. It is us who decide what s right and wrong. It s a matter of opinion. Morality is dangerous and it leads to chaos in society. Philosophers who see the danger try to give morals a new foundation that does not involve religious idea. Stace mentions that philosophers may be able to decide what are good and bad, but the great masses of people may not be able to do so and the result will be disaster.
Some people suggested replacing old religion with a new one, but Stace predicts that it will fail. Why? Because men have lost the belief therefore; it can not be revived. Some proposed that we should turn to science itself, or the scientific spirit, for our salvation.
Another question that came up in the essay is can the whole civilization live without religion? W.T. Stace explains that it is possible for educated men, philosophers, scientists, intellectuals, to live their moral lives without religion, but he does not think that the whole civilization including the uneducated can do so.
W.T. Stace sums up his main idea in the conclusion of the essay. He states that men in the early time are violent and as time passed by the development of human civilization made morality connect with religion. If modern man live without religion, they will sink back into the early phase, when men were violent and brutal.
After reading this essay, I have gain an understanding of how important religion is. I believe that religion have shaped up my morals. I agree with Stace on many parts in the essay. I agree that we can not replace old religion with a new one, because once men lose faith about something, they will not be able to go back and believe in it again. I do not agree that men lose faith in religion because of the scientific revolution. I believe that men are smart enough to be able to understand nature without involving the question with God. When I was young, I asked my mother why does it rain and she answered that it is because God is crying. I knew that it wasn t true. I didn t know what is rain, but I do know that it is not because God is crying. I think that people are losing faith in religion because religion is not pure anymore. For example, many monks are raping girls and got away with it because they have money to pay the police. The money came from us who devoted ourselves to religion because we truly think that religion is pure. I stopped believing in religion long time ago and it s not because of scientific revolution. I lose my faith in religion because I think that I make my own destiny and there s no one in the sky to help me live my life. I choose what I want to be and where I want to go and everything is based on my decisions. Whenever I fell, I couldn t see any hand reaching down from the sky to help me. I solve my own problems and I can only depend on me. That s why I do not believe in religion.