America, who and where is, your Hume?
The current state of the USA, awash in fundamentalist religious fervour coupled with bad political leadership, strongly reminds me of Scotland as it was three hundred years ago, just prior to the age of enlightenment.
David Hume was one of the many Scottish intellectuals that came to prominence in the 1700’s and was the first to loosen the iron grip the church or “kirk” - as it’s called in Scotland – had on the country at that time. He did it with rationality and the conviction that man controls his own destiny; he wisely stated that only when man is prepared to admit he may be wrong, does the path to wisdom open. Church leaders – correctly – saw this as an attack upon their authority and tried to prosecute Hume as a bad Christian; a mistake, since Hume merely said he wasn’t a Christian at all!
Hume was probably the first atheist to show that you can be a good and wise person without being influenced by any kind of deity, indeed, Adam Smith, his friend, said that Hume was as good and virtuous a man as it’s possible to be, given the frailties of the human condition.
By the mid 1700’s the influence of Hume, Smith and many others, had made Scotland the best educated country in the world at that time, the enlightenment was in full-swing. In the same period the great geologist James Hutton showed without doubt that the earth was much older than people thought, another severe blow for the kirk.
The influence of these men was the catalyst that caused Scots in the fields of mathematics, science, medicine, literature and engineering to rise to world-wide prominence. The number of scientific discoveries and inventions made during the Scottish enlightenment far outstrips that which may be expected from a nation with such a small population. To this day, Edinburgh is a world centre of medicine and biology.
Toward the end of his life, David Hume strongly supported the American rebels and originated the system of a federation of states with an elected president; exactly the system in use today.
So America, Hume initiated your governmental system and Adam Smith showed you how commerce works, you got a good start but you seem to have slipped somewhat. You’re allowing religious fanatics to infiltrate and subvert your constitution in furtherance of their deluded aims, you need a new home-grown Hume to stand up and show you the way to enlightenment once more.
I say you need to do this with some urgency; America is rapidly becoming a laughable but dangerous bully in the eyes of the rest of the world, somewhat like an unruly teenager who’s just found his dad’s gun. The other day, I saw a TV program featuring an American preacher who advocated execution for adulterers and homosexuals; this madman was serious.
How long will it be before rational, thinking persons in the USA – I know they exist, I’ve met many - put a stop to this dangerous trend? Your politicians are weak and must pander to the God-fanatics to obtain votes, it seems only a matter of time before the war mongering religites control your country and have their fingers on the nuclear trigger.