Modern Mythology and the Ahrimanic Deception-1
Modern mythology and the Ahrimanic deception
Before our modern era, older cultures use to socialize or indoctrinate their young in the religion of their people, by means of poetry (the Iliad and the Odyssey among the ancient Greeks), the chanting of Scriptures (the Hindu Vedas, the Hebrew Books of Moses), and in our Western world the Christian Mass with a recitation of its Bible and sacred music. This was clearly and openly done, so that any visitor from another culture could tell immediately what the culture he was visiting believed and taught its young, and passed along to them as precepts for living.
Over the past 300 years or so, here in the Western world ---which, as it attained supremacy in the world, also became for most of it an ideal to be emulated--- the old religious paradigm of the Christian religion was gradually undermined by the appearance of free-thinking and the scientific method. This began in the 1700s with what is called the Enlightenment.
Every society, however, looks to its leaders to provide guidance in what to pass along to its young in the form of moral precepts. After a brief time, from the 1700s through until the mid-1800s, in which freethinking scientists could emphasize deciding all matters for oneself, they as a group moved from neutrality about religion and morality (saying that science, which could only describe what IS, could have nothing to say about ultimate meanings of existence, or about what SHOULD BE), to active opposition to traditional religion and what was felt as its backwardness and tyranny over the human mind. The result was that, by the late 1800s, the traditional authority of religions in the Western world had been destroyed among a large percentage of the population, especially the educated, and this led the new respected authorities of the scientific community to be called upon to provide a new "catechism" of what should be taught the young. Obviously, deciding everything for oneself was all well and good once children are above a certain age, but was an absurd recommendation for the very young --- as well as, many educated Westerners felt, the uneducated masses.
As a result, the scientific authorities of our Western world have in some cases been forced to, and in other cases actively sought to, provide a new "paradigm" or overarching picture of the world and life to which Western societies ascribe belief and which they pass on to their young. In vain have a minority of true scientists protested that real science (meaning by which a method of investigation and thinking, not a set of conclusions) cannot be used to set up any dogmas, because the very idea of an unchallenged dogma is alien to science.
Starting in the late 1800s and early 1900s, new dogmas have been promulgated and imposed upon all educated Western people, made the basis of governmental decisions, required legally to be taught in public schools, and so on. After a brief time in which true freethinking was encouraged, the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment has instead led to an imposition of dogma fall more restrictive than the Catholic Church dogma it replaced, because no longer recognized as a dogma. Rather, these opinions and beliefs are regarded not as opinions and beliefs but as facts which cannot be disputed.
Professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford C.S. Lewis once termed the difference between the science of the Enlightenment and what we have from the 20th century forward as the difference between "science", meaning a method of inquiry, and "scientism", the mere recitation of "what experts have concluded". The first requires thinking, the latter only memorization, like a catechism. It is most of what is taught in present-day science classes, which is why science classes have become so unpopular: far from encouraging free thinking and investigation, young minds are discouraged from thinking and questioning, and forced into dogma.
If we were to visit sixth century BC Greece, we would be able to tell that there was a ruling paradigm of thought embodied in Homer's poems which all children were required to memorize, which imparted a view of the world ---one in which invisible gods ruled behind the scenes and occasionally intervened in the lives of men, who after death lived as shades in a dark underworld, and so on. We could identify the Greek mythology which its people were taught and the main elements of it. How much harder, however, for us to look squarely at the modern mythology our culture imposes on us for the past century and a half or so. Just as the Greeks themselves would have argued with a visitor that this was not a peculiar "mythology" they were passing on to their children, but rather just factually the way things are, so we are not taught to look at what our society's leaders teach us as a mythology we are required to believe. Here, we are going to ask the reader to try to look objectively at the education he has received from his Western society in exactly that way. Along the way, we are going to discuss what is actually science and what goes considerably beyond that into the realm of blind faith.
To Be Coninued....
Background: the Enlightenment and the transformation into the modern era.
Quite to the contrary of many people's impressions, the modern scientific outlook did not originate in opposition to the Christian church but was rather an outgrowth from it. Since the Renaissance, scientific inquiry began in the various countries of Europe but always with investigations or scientific papers written in Latin, because this was the universal language of educated men of letters, churchmen. There were a number of cases in which the Catholic Church repressed investigation or learning, of course, when its dogma was clearly challenged, but in most cases, for centuries scientists were themselves churchmen: they shared the moral outlook of Christian Europe and regarded their scientific investigations and inventions as being the realization of the biblical command to go forth and "conquer the earth" (steam engines of the Industrial Revolution, exploration of North and South America, etc.). By far the largest part of the men we look back upon as the founders of our modern science were devout Christians: for instance, Sir Isaac Newton put about as much energy into his research into gravitation as he did into a dissertation on the meaning of the ten horns of the great beast in the Book of Revelations. Early scientists did not generally have such great egotism as to think that they were going to understand all of creation in a new way which would be any different from the understanding of it in the Bible they had been raised with: they felt they were extending Christian civilization, not throwing it out and starting over again.
This remained the general attitude all through the Protestant Reformation and the Industrial Revolution, beginning to change only after the American Revolution with the advent of the Revolutionary era. It was in the wake of this that movements such as the French Jacobins attempted to overthrow all religion, being actively hostile towards it, and over the next few generations, scientists began to likewise take on the revolutionary spirit and feel that they were representatives of “new men” who had to overthrow an old order. Karl Marx, who considered himself a scientist, is a typical example; a generation after him, the movement of Darwinism led to this being even more openly advocated. Christian churches with their pastors and (allegedly) easily-led congregations came to be viewed as the enemy of "progress", defined as what science was bringing (it would not be until a century after the publication of Darwin's works that the public would really begin to question whether everything science was bringing was a step forward--- starting in the environmental movement of the late 1960s).
In the Victorian age, a picture of human nature and history developed which fit the prejudices of that age: that all progress was slow and gradual, that all human history has been a straight line progress upward to the perfect Victorians themselves, and that the scientific method currently being used then would remain the only method mankind would ever use until the end of life on earth. It was a culturally conservative time, where men sought to freeze everything rigid and keep everything exactly as it was.
Every ancient culture would teach its young the meaning of life on earth, what was expected of each of them, what was good and what was not, what rewards and or punishments could be expected after death, and many other related things. After a few generations in which conscientious scientists felt morally obligated to respond to all such queries by stating that the limits of science meant they could make no pronouncements upon such ultimate questions, that they were beyond scientific answer, this quite proper stand began to be held by the public as inadequate. As the scientific culture of the West sought to displace the older religious culture, it found it was required to provide these moral norms for society. What was the nature of human beings and of the world we live in? What is right and what is wrong? What is the ultimate end of human beings, and of our world?
Although what the scientific establishment believes is seldom taught in such explicit terms, nonetheless we are all indoctrinated with the beliefs of "Scientism" in public education. Even the best teachers, after all, are human beings interacting with other younger human beings, not bloodless Thinking Machines. The questions of our nature and origin and ultimate destiny quite naturally come up and are pronounced upon with greater or lesser zeal.
Now, the great difference between anything based on ancient Scriptures and something based on scientific investigation is that the former is deductive while the latter is inductive; or, in other words, all religions take some written documents as being the unquestioned basis for beliefs and they deduce answers to questions from these accepted ideas. Scientific statements are supposed to be arrived at by inductive reasoning, in other words taking nothing for granted except the evidence one investigates. However, from the beginning of modern science about 400 years ago, this was usually interpreted to mean one had to begin with what is PHYSICALLY sense-perceptible. Ideas or theories or any mental constructs were not allowed to be the beginning point, but rather what could be seen, touched, heard, etc.---referred to as "the given." (Before the twentieth century, the now-to-us-quite-quite-natural insight that how different people perceive things might be different was ignored: it was assumed sense-reality was uniform, an absolute, all people perceived as Victorian Englishmen did. It was an unquestioned assumption beofre "postmodernism.")
This led to two very obvious prejudices: first, in arriving at a picture of history, it was assumed that everything material -- -- -- the mineral earth, oceans, atmosphere etc. -- -- -- was FIRST here, and all living forms came LATER and somehow originated OUT of the material that now makes up their forms; and second, we human beings are first and foremost our BODIES, and anything else -- -- -- thoughts, feelings, impulses of will -- -- -- must arise OUT of our physical bodies.
We seldom look at these prejudices as just that--- but once one does, one can immediately see they will impel any intellect to incline to certain conclusions: that, for instance, any stories of an extraterrestrial origin for life or human beings must be fanciful, and likewise nothing survives death. When the material forms of living things, including our own bodies, are what is focused on primarily as "real", these opinions are practically a foregone conclusion.
[Incidentally, this materialist philosophy of modern science is almost identical to the STOIC school of ancient Rome. The Carl Sagans of the world believe they base their world-outlook on objective facts determined by experiment, not at all mere interpretations of facts, but their entire philosophy minus all the alleged "proofs" of modern things like x-ray crystallography to allegedly "prove" atoms exist, etc., can be found in "On The Nature of Things" by the Stoic Lucretius, written almost 2,000 years ago. It is a mental coloring or way of interpreting all evidence, not arrived at only from the evidence itself.]
To Be Continued.....