For well over 500 years now, Western civilization has been in a state of civil war, with two aspects thereof in a growing conflict with one another. These two contending forces are humanism and Christianity. Humanism began its rise to power in the medieval era, and its strength was such that it captured the church, much of the academic world, and the state as well. The so-called Renaissance was the victory celebration of the triumphant humanists. While preserving the form of Christendom and the church, the humanists put them to other uses. Lorenzo Valla openly turned to anti-Christian standards as the new yardstick, without bothering to deal with the Bible as a serious source of law. The source of all virtuous action, Lorenzo Valla held, is man’s natural bent to pleasure. Ficino held that virtue and love were responses to beauty. However much these and other men disagreed as to the true standards for life, they were agreed that God could not be the source of standards, but that man and man’s reason is the yardstick in terms of which all things must be judged. The standard, it was held, is man, and the moment. Ficino’s inscription in the Florentine Academy concluded thus: “Flee excesses, flee business, and rejoice in the present.” For these men, the church was to be the instrument for a new kind of salvation, a refined Christianity informed and remade by humanism. As Cronin has pointed out, Botticelli’s painting of the Birth of Venus was an expression of this faith: the symbolism of Venus in this portrayal means that “[n]atural love, purified, is about to become Christian love, eros to become agape” (Vincent Cronin, The Florentine Renaissance [New York, NY: Dutton, 1967], p. 211).