Monday, 5 March 2012

God Bless Humanity...

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~ God Bless Humanity... ~

God Bless Humanity..., originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

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... and all who fail in her.

Of all the weird religions in all the world, this one might just be the weirdest.

What we are looking at here, ladies and gentlemen, is the last remaining bastion on this side of the world of the curiously and somewhat paradoxically named Réligion de l'Humanité. Or the Church of Positivism if you prefer. The Temple of Reason might be taking the concept a little too far.

The history of all this is fascinating - a valiant attempt by a possibly misguided philosopher to create the world's first scientifically-based, and therefore genuine and 'proper' universal religion. Faith by universal principles, if you like. Brilliant. Except that as I mentioned above, the building you see here, along with another in Brazil (witness the two national flags on the balcony to confirm this) are practically all that's left of this wonderfully inter-era initiative, founded back in the middle of the 19th century.

We hadn't managed to definitively kick god out of the rafters quite yet, and yet, what all the most recent reasoned discoveries were telling us, including vitally what we really weren't finding any evidence for whatsoever, meant that a strange and slightly queasy period was underway, where it was still rather delicate to question the existence of a postulated, all-powerful, creator, but his invisibility and silence was starting to seriously thunder in a lot of people's ears.

In the end, of course, Auguste Comte's grand dream for an ethically and morally sound feel-good club for the faithless was either ahead of its time or simply didn't hit the right hot buttons. The result is this curious listed historic monument you might come across one day if you turn down a certain street in the Marais you haven't investigated before.

If you do, lift up your eyes and absorb the motto for this hopelessly utopian, half-baked, best-of-both-worlds, have your gâteau and eat it, physicists-for-saints, humanity-as-deity Faustian folly.

"L'Amour pour Principe, L'Ordre pour Base, Le Progrès pour But"

Love as principle; order as basis; progress as goal. We can reflect that although Comte's basic principles of order and progress are now just an arcane inscription on a south American flag, his ideas opened doors to more developed movements such as religious humanism and ultimately secular humanism, and altruism (the word, not the behaviour) was also a Comteism.

And whatever happened to love? Maybe, in the end, it's above all that.

(As an interesting endnote, this wasn't the first attempt in recent French history to replace Christianity with a more modern and revolutionarily compatible pseudo-'faith' system, no doubt with the usual intentions of maintaining control of the populace and 'guiding' them in the 'right' direction, despite the self-proclaimed godlessness of the nascent republic. Quite a few Parisian churches were converted into 'Temples of Reason' during the French revolution, and one of them, even larger than Notre-Dame de Paris (now there's a secret!) has an inscription above its front door pledging allegiance to the 'Supreme Being' amongst other things (not including God). Yet another story!)

And why not...
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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