Book Review: Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave

Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave” by Dave Breese

Though written in 1990, this fascinating book weaving together historical, philosophical, and theological themes is still remarkably relevant. Breese investigates the founders of seven influential philosophical systems, and how much of what they taught has become ingrained in the collective psyche of Western thought.  He then compares and contrasts the philosophies of these “seminal thinkers” with Biblical teaching, illustrating how our presuppositions about the truth claims of the Bible (as opposed to other truth claims) impact our world view at every level. Here are the “7 men” (the following are the author’s words):

  • Charles Darwin, who systemized and advanced the principle that evolution was behind the origin of the species
  • Karl Marx, who developed and advocated the notion of modern Communism
  • Julius Wellhausen, who initiated “higher criticism” and “modernism”
  • John Dewey, who argued for an educational system focused on problem solving
  • Sigmund Freud, who promoted the view that the sexual instinct is the driving force behind all human action
  • John Maynard Keynes, who advocated the policies for reducing unemployment and expanding the economy that today find their expression in deficit spending and governmental activism
  • Søren Kierkegaard, who stressed the obligation each person has to make conscious, responsible choices among alternatives, a major tenet of existentialism

An eighth chapter also investigated the misapplication of Einstein’s theory of relativity to become a scientific “proof” of relative morality, which Einstein himself vehemently opposed (thus the reason he is not included as the 8th man in this list). This book is not exhaustive in its coverage of any of these philosophies, but is a good overview to give the Christian perspective on why people believe what they believe today. Nearly twenty years after publication, many of Breese’s predictions about what people in my generation would believe if the then budding postmodernism were followed to its logical conclusion appear prophetic. Highly recommended! Buy it here.

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