The 5,000 Year Leap

WOOOOOO!!! Revisionist history! Poor philosophy! Rent free in my brain!

…is more like lemmings off a cliff.

I just finished reading the book, given to me as a gift along with a copy of the U.S. Constitution.  While I readily recognize some of the theories in there as a recasting of certain John Birch Society materials, the author commits the error of taking 18th century men, cramming them into a 1950’s era mold, baptizing them in modern evangelical theology, and allowing it to cool in a modern day environment.

In short, it’s poor history compounded by an anti-communist viewpoint (the book was written in 1981) and dolled up with 1950’s era charm.  In fact, the whole book reads as if it were a Second World War publication handed to new immigrants or Boy Scouts.  Emphasis on the Founding Fathers as mythical men influenced by their Christianity and left remarkably untouched by the French, British, and Scottish enlightenment thinkers, the author spins a handful of quotations into a tapestry of 28 specific propositions.

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  • Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained (Jefferson’s Statute on Religious Freedom bears a different course)
  • To protect man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law (though the book earlier asserts a fidelity to “natural law” it ascribes this tradition to Cicero)
  • The God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people (rarely is this so; governance is not a right)
  • The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government which has become tyrranical (a majority?  when a law is unjust it is no law at all…)
  • Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to the government… (thus rendering the Louisiana Purchase unconstitutional)
  • Strong local government is the keystone to preserving human freedom (no — government is the enemy of human freedom no matter where it’s jurisdiction)
  • A free people should be governed by law and not by the whims of men (which is antithetical to the Christian experience)
  • “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations: entangling alliances with none” (the Jay Treaty, which Washington signed, was a violation of this)
  • The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect its integrity (foster?  foster?! government doesn’t have the right or responsibility to “foster” a family)
  • The United States has a manifest destiny to be an example and blessing to the entire human race (…which is nowhere in my Constitution)

I could go on.  One could write a book correcting the oversimplifications and sub-par historical references., not to mention the grievous errors replete in the book.  The 5,000 Year Leap is not a book I would recommend to a soul, unless I were offering it to an educated person capable of finding it’s very real flaws.

Perhaps I am a bit too harsh… the book is well intentioned and does lead to some worthwhile conclusions.  But the argument is flawed through and through, no matter how right (some of) the premises may be.

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