When Luther (1517) and Calvin (1536) reform Christian monotheism, they introduce two important changes that open both the path for a renewed asceticism and for a pure, Comtian
, materialism: on the one hand, the accumulation of capital is a divine sign of sorts, the tangible proof of a spiritual progress; on the other, transforming the material world is only an economic and a political goal.
The wretched state of the church appeared to be a symbolic expression of the decline of Comtian
Yet their work was vulnerable to the charge of elitism and seems now reminiscent of Comtian
technocracy, Fourier in particular being convinced that he'd determined the fundamental laws of human nature.
Not unconnected to this development was the Comtian
program of social science, which emphasized empirical research, statistics, and an overall imitation of the methods of the physical sciences, all for the purpose of improving people's material condition and thrusting mankind into the "positive stage of history." It followed, then, that education ought not to inculcate truth and doctrine (because science might at any time overturn previously held beliefs) but foster a spirit of change and tolerance so that the "social organism" could adapt and grow as needed.