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Organized religion ‘decays’ as political ideologies increasingly viewed in ‘religious light’: Niall Ferguson

Thought Leader: Niall Ferguson
June 14, 2021
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A prominent historian warned Monday that society is increasingly applying religious feelings to political figures and ideologies as organized religions have to God or to other deities, which should be a dire warning for all.

On Monday’s “Tucker Carlson Today” on Fox Nation, Hoover Institution fellow Niall Ferguson, a Scottish author and historian, pointed out that political figures and ideologies are increasingly being viewed from a religious context, as a particular quality of infallibilities befalls certain viewpoints in public discourse.

“We are dealing not just with the decay of traditional religion, but far worse, the rise of new fake religions, political religions,” he said. “And one thing that’s very clear from the 20th century is that when people take their religious feelings and they apply them to political ideologies, terrible things can happen. Central to what made communism so deadly, was it ultimately a religion: Karl Marx is ultimately a prophet and Marxism is a kind of religion.”

Ferguson said the same was true in Nazi Germany, where Chancellor Adolf Hitler was viewed in a similarly religious light by his followers:

“The most ardent Nazis thought of Hitler and explicitly called him a redeemer of the German nation. So we’ve got to be very careful of political religions. Politics is not something that you should approach with a religious impulse,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson added that in the U.S. people like to claim that the term “science” has a religiosity to it—where it cannot be questioned and exists as described.

“There is no such thing as ‘the science’. Of course, there are scientists,” he said. “My sister is a physicist at Yale. And they’ll tell you there are sciences, plural, and it’s a constantly shifting dynamic system in which ideas are tested and frequently found to be false.”

In terms of the pandemic, Ferguson noted how “the science” is often uttered to claim affirmation of the ensuing stated belief.

“There’s no kind of stuck, received wisdom that we apply at, least of all when there’s a new pathogen on the loose. What was fascinating about writing ‘Doom’ was just watching actual science working, where lots and lots and lots of people in different disciplines are churning out papers, most of which turn out to be wrong, because they’re trying to find the truth by trial and error.”
he said. “That’s the scientific method. You have a hypothesis, you’re not wedded to it, and you bombard it with data to see if it’s right or not.”

He noted the U.S. political left has a view of “science” as some sort of “magical thinking” where there is an established “stated view [and] consensus.”

“And if you don’t subscribe to it, you’re a heretic. Well, that’s magical thinking,” he said.

Ferguson pointed to his Hoover Institution colleague Dr. Scott Atlas, whom former President Donald Trump tapped to join his coronavirus task force.

Atlas was pilloried in the press and by Trump critics, who refused to consider any input he had as a medical doctor. Atlas often riled critics by publicly disagreeing with the prescriptions of Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also served on President Trump’s coronavirus task force.

Host Tucker Carlson previously remarked on Fauci during his Fox News show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” where he commented on people viewing Fauci in a seemingly religious light.

Carlson commented that Fauci is revered in certain swaths of the U.S.—pointing to a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. that has signs reading “Thank You Dr. Fauci”

“What does that tell you? It tells you that Tony Fauci is no longer a scientist, assuming he ever was one. Tony Fauci is a figure of religious veneration,” Carlson said. “He is Jesus for people who don’t believe in God.”

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