Instinctively, we know we should say “yes”. To reject the label is to reject the idea of progress.
At the same time, it is a bit jarring to think that modernity was born just a few hundred years ago – in the 17th century. Think of it — mankind has wandered around the planet for at least 200,000 years. And for the majority of that time, we felt absolutely no need to embrace progress. Things were as they were, and that was that. Change was not necessarily a good thing. To the contrary, faith in the power of God to shape our lives was far more important.
So what happened in the 17th century? A good place to find out is a book
• The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind is published by Bloomsbury. To order a copy for £9.34 (£10.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.