Will Durant


Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Look Magazine Photograph Collection. Call number LOOK - Job 61-9343

I’m loving that Renee posted a Will Durant quote at her blog. I’m most drawn to the last line: “As long as there is poverty, there will be gods.”


The rest of the quote speaks of how science threatens religion. There’s a line that says, “The masses will never accept science until it gives them an earthly paradise.”

I wholeheartedly disagree with this line. Life now is closer and closer to being paradisiacal. I’m not saying it’s fully paradise, but holy cow are we advanced compared to even 20 years ago. There may be pain and the poor may be among us, but think about how far we’ve come and it has made no dent in the science vs religion debate. Durant’s prediction for the future from the 1920s was wrong.

The entire quote Renee posted is below the fold:

‘The truth is that people will always demand a religion phrased in imagery and haloed with the supernatural. They don’t want science; they are in mortal terror of it, for the one sermon of science is that all life eats other life and that all life must die. The masses will never accept science until it gives them an earthly paradise. As long as there is poverty, there will be gods.”

–Will Durant, “The Mansions of Philosophy”, 1929

One of my fondest memories is flipping through and reading good amounts of my dad’s library of Will and Mary Durant’s eleven-volume book “The Story of Civilization.” I used these books for reports throughout high school. One thing that struck me that even in the 20s and 30s, a man had enough grace and foresight to put his wife’s name on the byline. I always admired that attempt at gender equality despite what I knew of history’s views on women.

These dusty eleven volumes were in our garage on a shelf next to stacks and stacks and stacks of National Geographic magazines. I would sit out there on an old furniture dolly covered with faded yellow carpet, and read for hours. And despite the fact that they disagreed and outright conflicted with what I was taught inside the home and at school, they were still very dear to me. It is really  no wonder that science, history, writing and photography would eventually become my favorite disciplines in school.

Isn’t it weird that these treasure troves of education were in our garage?



2 thoughts on “Will Durant

  1. I can tell you I read every volume and loved them . they were a great couple of authors . I donated the entire collection to John Wesley College .
    Its amazing how books seem to reproduce in this house . Every now and then I have to make room for more .

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