Intermingled in this is the Reformation, which was the first great schism in Christianity in over a thousand years. The Catholic Church had become corrupt in many ways, and men of courage like Martin Luther challenged the apparent temporal focus of Catholicism. While the Reformation spawned religious wars and other strife that was most virulent from 1500 to 1700, and persists to this day in some circumstances, which has led many of the opponents of religion to say that "more have been killed in the name of religion than in all other wars" (blithely forgetting the wars against collectivism (WWI, WWII, the Cold War - and Hot offshoots in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Angola, and elsewhere)), what the Reformation accomplished was a reaffirmation of faith among all Christians which persists to this day.
The philosophic counterpart to the Age of Reason, which developed the basic societal norms under which we currently live, attempted to explain the role of humans in the universe, the relations between governed and ruled, and so forth. The giants of the Enlightenment included Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Descartes, and others. Marx is an Enlightenment author, though a century removed. The Enlightenment authors were the first political scientists of Modern times. The Enlightenment unleashed an unbridled free for all with one of the primary objectives being to leave as much of the past behind, in any way possible, consequences be damned
Letâ€™s expand this with a modern example of the corrupting influence of Enlightenment thought:
In our country we have an obligation to â€śestablish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, [and] promote the general Welfare.â€ť (From the Declaration of Independecnce) Of this there is no doubt.
These latter times seem infected by the anti-civilizing philosophies of nihilism and utilitarianism. Nihilism is a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths. Utilitarianism is the theory that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number. (Both definitions are from Merriam-Websterâ€™s online dictionary.)
The nihilist believes that each individual is the arbiter of what his or her own truth shall be: all things are relative, especially ethics and morals and thus, all things are equal. The utilitarian believes that ethical judgments can be made based upon a balancing scale of individual or societal good: this means that one personâ€™s happiness may be more important than another personâ€™s happiness, and that actions may be taken based upon the â€ścommon good,â€ť with no regard for individual sentiment or desire and no regard for the initiative to control one's own destiny outside the 'common good.' In fact, oneâ€™s own initiative does not exist outside the common good..