One God: The Political and Moral Philosophy of Western Civilization


402 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55164-210-7
DDC 291.5'697





Reviewed by Jay Newman

Jay Newman is a professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph. His
most recently published work is Biblical Religion and Family Values: A
Problem in the Philosophy of Culture (2001).


Ernesto Lorca, a Chilean physician and scientific writer who died in
2002, was convinced that religious freedom, tolerance, and pluralism are
“too temporary,” inasmuch as “religions are by definition, and in
essence, exclusive and explosive, exclusionary and destructive.
Internally, they justify class societies, with all their attendant
inequalities and injustices; externally, they reproduce a world of war
of all against all, with all the atrocities committed in the name of
their respective gods.” This cruelly long volume provides what seems
to have been intended as a systematic critical exegesis of Hebrew
Scripture, the New Testament, and the Quran; but the analysis is
disconcertingly inconsistent, as sometimes there are simply quotations
(or misquotations) from the sources, sometimes Lorca offers a little
commentary, occasionally he just rants, and at times there are cryptic
interjections and interpolations. This is a highly personal, eccentric,
and at times rather dotty contribution to the secularist “debunking”
literature. Lorca is clearly an intelligent chap who is appropriately
troubled by the destructive consequences of religious fanaticism; but he
does not belong to the more reflective debunking tradition of Hobbes,
Voltaire, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Ingersoll, and Russell, and he somehow
thinks that it is actually a virtue that he is almost entirely ignorant
of relevant research in such fields as hermeneutics, biblical studies,
history of religions, philosophy of culture, cultural anthropology, and

Besides having little confidence in the work of promoters of religious
freedom, tolerance, and pluralism—or of compassionate religious folk
generally—Lorca seems to have little confidence in the innumerable
publications of his fellow unbelievers. A good many of the criticisms
that he levels at the sacred Scriptures of billions of his fellows—and
at virtually all of the people who in some sense take them
seriously—are not insubstantial, but these have already been made many
times by wiser, more informed, and more constructive observers, women
and men at least as morally passionate as Lorca but more scrupulous in
avoiding the fanaticism and closed-mindedness that are more easily
discerned in others than in ourselves.


Lorca, Ernesto., “One God: The Political and Moral Philosophy of Western Civilization,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,