We’ve been hearing a lot about the “1619 Project,” and hearing also (somewhat less) about the “1776 Project.” But what the world really needs is a “1689 Project.”

The year 1689 was the key one in the birth of the Enlightenment – a marvelously successful approach to science, politics, reasoned thought, and human relations that seems dangerously at risk of ending in today’s angry and increasingly irrational world.

In 1687, Isaac Newton published his “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” exemplifying the evolution of science toward a system of rational laws tied to empirical observations and welcoming skeptical thought and free inquiry.

In 1689, the same sensibility entered the political realm, with England’s Glorious Revolution. King James II was bloodlessly overthrown and replaced by William and Mary, consistent with John Locke’s hot new idea – the “social contract” – whereby the sovereign serves the people, instead of people serving the sovereign.

An English Bill of Rights was signed in 1689, laying down a rough blueprint for what would become America’s future Bill of Rights, often using similar phrases: freedom of speech, the right to bear arms (here, chiefly for the Protestants who had been denied the right of arms for defense under the Catholic James II), protections against “cruel and unusual punishments,” and more. The king and queen foreswore the power of arbitrary taxation.