2007/08/07

Loss of certainty and the purpose of life?"

This post is a follow-up of my commentary in StumbleUpon about Christianity finds a fulcrum in Asia by Spengler that was published by AsiaTimes.
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"Christianity is the great liquidator of traditional society, calling individuals out of their tribes and nations to join the ekklesia, which transcends race and nation."
writes a proud Spengler.


Christianity has indeed been the ideological instrument used by tribe "unifiers" and builders of kingdoms and empires around the Middle-East and in Europe. But let's take a closer look at the emergence of its dominance. The place of Christianity was consecrated on the worldmap with its promotion as the religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine. Proclaimed Emperor in 306 (tetrarchy) the emperor converted to Christianity in 312 and in 313 he issued what later would come to be known as the Edict of Milan that put an end to institutionalized persecution of Christians in the Empire. In the following years "Constantine considered himself responsible to God for the spiritual health of his subjects, and thus he had a duty to maintain orthodoxy. For Constantine, the emperor did not decide doctrine - that was the responsibility of the bishops - rather his role was to enforce doctrine, root out heresy, and uphold ecclesiastical unity. The emperor ensured that God was properly worshiped in his empire; what proper worship consisted of was for the Church to determine". ...In 325 he summoned the First Council of Nicaea, effectively the first Ecumenical Council, which ... formulated the Trinity as it is known today. It also resulted in the formulation of the common Bible of Today.. 1



The promotion of Christianity has been realized at the price of a tabula rasa policy that destroyed the knowledge base that the people under the authority of Rome had accumulated along the previous tens of thousands of years of observation of all fields related to the principle of life. The societal ground had indeed to be cleared of all anterior beliefs and ideas for the Christian foundational story to possibly take root. And thus Christianity replaced the animistic body of knowledge with a simplistic foundational story that the West still largely lives off today. In short:


- History as a straight progressive line with a beginning and an end:

* The beginning of the story of human reality is presented as having been unleashed by a "first mover" called god.

* The end of that story is a promise to the "good people" that they will join god in eternal happiness while the bad ones shall be suffering for eternity. (in the meantime you better behave and practice the teachings of the creed!)


- Reality presented as a cauldron of cooking dualism 2:

* everything is seen as being on the side of, or good, or bad

* this unleashes a perpetual fight between good and bad

* and humanity is thus being extracted out of its organic ground to fight for the good.



This is quite far apart from the idea that "...it is the great migration of peoples that prepares the ground for Christianity, just as it did during the barbarian invasions of Europe during the Middle Ages".
But Spengler is absolutely right in writing that "When war or economics tear people away from their roots in traditional life, what once appeared constant now is shown to be ephemeral". This is true for traditional life as well as for modern life. But as an apologist of Christianity Spengler would like us believe that his religion is the absolute answer to any vacuum of "a worldview". This is simply grotesque.


Humans need to share a worldview in order to feel at peace with themselves 3,4. And, furthermore, the sharing of a worldview is what unifies all the individuals within their society. A worldview is a view of the world and of reality and as such it goes without saying that many worldviews can arise according to the local conditions and the history of the local people. And those worldviews can be not only of a religious type but also of a philosophic type.



What is grotesque in Spengler's view is that Christianity would be like spontaneously emerging anywhere people are "landing" into a void of belief. As if Christianity were contained in the structure of human DNA. This is simply absurd and so much more so coming from someone who can't fathom the idea of a spontaneous emergence of life.



Humanity has lived for tens of thousands if not for hundreds of thousands of years under a worldview that we came to call animism. That worldview was based on the long haul observation of nature, of the earth and the sky, and not surprisingly the building blocks of that worldview were similar the whole world over. China's civilization, and the civilization of India for that matter, did not erase the body of knowledge built under animism. Those civilizations simply further refined and developed the knowledge it contained. This also explains why China and India were having such an advanced and refined civilization in comparison with Europe that remained so utterly primitive in all aspects till well after the "great discoveries" had transferred to it the richness accumulated by long lines of generations all over the world.



Modernity has not shown to have been better than what existed earlier 5, 6. It only is more "EFFICIENT" 7 at exploiting man and nature. And the Western successes at exploiting man and nature resulted also in a bigger efficiency in term of their capacity to fight with others. All nations and people of the world have unfortunately suffered at the hands of that Western efficiency and the only way for them to resist has been to adopt the rationality of capital that emerged in Europe with the "great discoveries" in the hope of strengthening their own economies.



But the adoption of the logic of capital and its ideology of rationality while rendering a country more efficient is also very destabilizing socially, culturally, and so much more so when the leap into modernity is realized at such a neck breaking speed as it is happening in China. This is the reason why China is experiencing so much instability presently. How could it be otherwise? There are just no certainties left in such a maelstrom of societal changes and most people are thus yearning for some stability in their lives and in their miThat's the ideal swimming pool for religions and sects of all stripes. But rest reassured this is not a malady restricted to China alone. Something of the same nature is going the world over. 8, 9, 10



The Chinese authorities are well aware of the void and are eager participants in the debate that is taking place on the role to assign to Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism in a modern China. It is to be noted that this debate has now been raging for nearly a decade in intellectual circles and that it appears to have ignited a strong renaissance of traditional Chinese systems of thought. 11, 12, 13



But while Chinese traditional systems of thought are making a reappearance in urban areas Christianity is progressing in the rural areas of the country. Does this not tick a bell in your mind? Some story with red and blue states?



The renaissance of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism is bound to evolve their animistic roots into a postmodern worldview that will reconcile the Chinese with the world around them and with nature. There is ample evidence of something of this sort already being at work in their foreign policy and their environmental and social policies. 14, 15, 16



Christianity has been proselytizing for centuries and, discovering that China and India are bound to dominate the world in all aspects within the next few decades, it tries to position itself in order not to fall at the margins of the "worldwide worldview" that shall be endorsed under the weight of sheer necessity by all the citizens of this earth in the not so distant future. A "worldwide worldview" that is already on the Chinese and Indian drawing boards.



Totally buried under the weight of his Christian views Spengler can see nothing else than an evolution of the world according to the axioms that are deeply buried in his religion. Dualism is at the center of such a view. On one side the good Christians, on the other the bad Muslims and in consequence he sees their fight going on for ages in the future. As for the Chinese and all the other people, well, they will be the future armies of the good Christians against the evil Muslims. What else could they be doing? Having understood the tectonic shift at work in the world economy his dualism had to find a satisfying outcome. And voila the Chinese are enrolled as soldiers of his wars.



What amazes me most is the arrogance that underlies such thinking and how easily it makes him forget about the fact that the Chinese civilization has a history of over 5000 years. Any sensical being would think that to keep alive so long it must certainly have something that works in term of its view of reality; is it not? Some very powerfull axioms about reality have indeed withstood the long haul in China. For one's own sake would it not be worth to take a peak at those?




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