The outstanding fact about twentieth-century unbelief is that it is organized and massive.

Before the beginning of the century there were, of course, skeptics who voiced their unbelief as individuals in and through their philosophical or critical works, poems, essays, and novels. Up to 1870 religious works and sermons were among the “best-sellers,” but by 1900 they had dropped nearly to the bottom of the lists. During that thirty years, novels with a religious or moral purpose had displaced them.

By 1898 rationalistic writings had gained sufficient hold to make possible the founding of the “Rationalistic Press Association” in London, from which, year by year, cheap reprints of scientific, “positivist” and skeptical works poured forth, attacking the Bible and theology and the Church from the standpoint of scientific materialism, evolutionary agnosticism, and evolutionary ethics and sociology.

Unleashing Of Unbelief

Unbelief was not yet “organized” unbelief. It was, however, being so organized, particularly in Germany, in support of the ambition of a grandiose Germanic world state. Bernhardt’s Germany and the Next War, for example, had as its fundamental premise that “war is a biological necessity,” which the writer had arrived at on naturalistic, evolutionary grounds. “Nature was deemed to be red in tooth and claw.” The “struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest” were natural phenomena, and “fittest” meant “most forceful.” Thus, Bismarck’s “Blood and Iron” theory was justified on naturalistic grounds, and the doctrine “Might is Right” was widely preached and ...

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