Book Review – 10 Books That Screwed Up the World

Galatians 6: 8  states “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” This idea is shown further fruition in Benjamin Wiker’s 10 Books That Screwed Up the World.

There is a natural order in all of creation that  ideas have consequences.  What people believe affect their actions.  The actions we take influence other people and their beliefs.  When  Reverend Samuel Rutherford believed that “all men are equal” he wrote the world shaking doctrine of ‘Lex Rex‘ (The Law is King).  This philosophy influenced the creation of our country, dissolved slavery, and still is challenging those in power today (for more of this specific philosophy read Francis Shaffer’s ‘The Christian Manifesto’). In contrast to most actions, the written word has power to last beyond the spoken word, spreading its influence into the future.  Wiker states at the very start of his book:

“Common sense and a little logic tell us that if ideas have consequences, then it follows that bad ideas have bad consequences.  And even more obvious, if bad ideas are written down in books, they are far more durable, infecting generation after generation and increasing the world’s wretchedness. […] What then? Shall we have a book burning? Indeed not! Such a course of action is indefensible.  As I learned long ago, the best cure – the only cure, once the really harmful books have multiplied like viruses through endless editions – is to read them.  Know them forward and backward.  Seize each one by its malignant heart and expose it to the light of day”

Just as in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippen return after destroying the one ring they must purge the last remnants of evil from the Shire, when we return from fighting the battles out in the world we have to purge the last remnants of sinful philosophy from our ‘Shire; our hearts.  We must follow the mandate of 2 Corinthians 2: 5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Benjamin Wiker sets up the battle field of the mind by addressing the works written that have influenced our thought lives without our knowing. The other five books (that are not part of the 10) set the groundwork for philosophy without theology: Machiavelli’s The Prince, Descartes’ Discourse on Method, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Each of these works are studied and have entered our culture’s thought patterns without our knowing.  Has someone challenged Descartes entrapping claim that “I think therefore I am”? Or attacked the skepticism that has arose from that concept? Has someone charged into battle against Rousseau’s belief that “the law is merely a tool for the rich to keep their riches, making the rebellion of the have-nots justified”?  All the errors and misconceptions of the 10 spring from the removal of God from Man’s thought life. They all build off of each outer each book branching in a different direction but from that same trunk.

John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism

Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin)’s The State and Revolution

Margaret Sanger’s The Pivot of Civilization

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

Sigmund Freud’s The Future of an Illusion

Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa

Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

All of these works offer differing perspectives on what to do with man without God.  Wiker offers a critical mind-set in which the work is evaluated by its own merit.  Every book has citations taken and evaluated (except of Kinsey’s as the Kinsey Institute denied Wiker the right to cite).  Even for those not versed in philosophy Wilken’s does an admirable job of shining light and making the errors of these 10 seem obvious.  Wiker ends his book by stating:

“We are so fond of thinking of our progress from the simple savage that we forget to take account of whether we are really progressing in some sort of virue or rather becoming more complexly and deviously savage.  […] By following the trajectory of these books that screwed up the world, we can wonder whether the advance of ‘science’ over theology is an unmitigated good, and weather it is really progress.  Perhaps it is bringing us to a new age of technological barbarism, what we can certainly say is that the intensity of humanity’s self-destruction is a measure of the myth by which it lives, and this destruction is by no means limited to war and state-sponsored extermination.”

It all comes down to the concept of progress – is it something that has a foundation; a light that illuminates the world or is it the destruction of what came before?  G. K. Chesterton gave this illustration in 1905:

“Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good–” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.”

Read, Know, Confront, Battle, Stand.


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