The Journey from Religious Mythology
By: Robert D. Brinsmead
The recent ISIS destruction of the ancient ruins of Nimrod is religiously inspired archaeological insanity and mirrors early Christianity. In 390 CE, when Christians gained political power, they sacked and destroyed the great library of Alexandria. They set about burning all pagan books and even Christian books that did not reflect the orthodox faith. That is why we knew so little about the great diversity of the early Jesus movement because the group that prevailed to gain power set about destroying all traces of its opponents – until the 20th century discoveries of a host of lost Gospels, some written by Jewish Christians and others written by Gnostic Christians. This destruction of ancient learning by the Christians, including practical things like architecture and medicine, played a huge role in bringing on the Dark Ages. Yes, it was religion that created the Dark Ages, and ISIS is just now giving us a demonstration of the destructive power of religious fanaticism and religious totalitarianism. It is a very dangerous thing to imagine that you are a special people on the earth who alone possess the only saving Truth for all mankind.
The journey from religious mythology was a long one – what we have is a process of a the world, and that process began with Moses whose Ten Commandments focus almost wholly on the way we relate to our fellow humanity and not on sacralised rituals, formulas and prayers needed to relate to God. The Ten Commandments almost tell us that the only way to relate properly to God is to relate properly to our fellow mankind.
When the people who had the Ten Commandments got caught up in their sacrificial and priestly ritualism, the prophets put the emphasis back on man’s inhumanity to man as the great failure of Israel.
For all practical purposes Jesus ignored any focus on the so-called First Great Commandment and concentrated on the Second, declaring that to treat your neighbour as you would have him treat you is the whole law and prophets – not part of what Moses was about, but the real point of Torah. Religion sacralised a lot of things which were used as means of finding a right relationship with God. Jesus finished the work of the prophets by desacralizing everything, meaning that one could not use any of these sacred things – books, sacrifices, prayers, rituals, foods, garments, offices – to find a relationship with God. God dwelt with common humanity and could be found nowhere else.
The Christian Church went a long way down this road of sacralising things again with its great system of sacraments and rituals as a means of approaching the High God, and the Reformation went a long way toward removing that sacral burden – the Enlightenment and the process of Secularism (which religion hates) completed it. First it was the Protestant nations which became the most prosperous. Then it became the most Enlightened and secularized. This brought freedom from mythology and a cart load of irrational thought. It is religious thought forms that creates Apocalyptic thinking, Marxism, Environmentalism, Declinism, Jihadism and the rest – and none of it leads to improving the human condition.
It is true that freedom, democracy, science, the industrial revolution, modern capitalism all sprang from the Christian West. How much of this was directly due to Christianity and how much was in spite of Christianity? If it was due to Christianity, why did it take nearly 2000 years to produce these results? And how much did the weakening hold of Christianity allow these improvements to the human condition to develop?
How could Christianity have a hand in causing both the Dark Ages and the age of Enlightenment? How come it persecuted dissenters for so long and then became the champion of religious liberty? To what extent did it an influence maintaining the status quo and resist things like democracy and human rights, and to what extend did it become a leader in democracy and human rights?
A major factor in accelerating human progress had to be the invention of printing (the Guttenberg Press). In a survey of educated opinion re the ten greatest persons influencing change in the last 1000 years, Guttenberg was voted Number 1, – ahead of people like Luther (religion and Christianity) and Newton (science). The invention of printing facilitated the more rapid exchange and spread of ideas. So Bernstein on one of the four factors bringing progress and prosperity to humanity: transport and communication.
This being true, that age of the Internet is now facilitating the exchange of ideas like never before. It will breed rapid progress along many lines. Ideas spread like diseases spread and cause pandemics. In either case what is required is a critical mass of ideas or germs and then the ideas or the germs become an epidemic or a pandemic. Prior to the age of modern prosperity, nothing moved faster than a horse which was the great means of transport and communication. What ideas need is cross fertilization with other ideas. Through electronic communications of today we can all plug into the global brain of global information. False ideas like Islamic apocalyptic jihad and apocalyptic environmentalism feed off human ignorance and too easily press the buttons of human fears and superstitions. But the whole human race, including the Indian farmer in his paddy field, can now have a computer pad and can plug into the age of the Enlightenment. Light will expel darkness Love will triumph, and if love is the core nature of humanity, long buried by a lot of ignorance and superstition, then Light and Love will triumph against Darkness and Hate. I therefore say with Gandhi, “Never lose faith in humanity.”
We are driven by our worldview – as Morowitz once pointed out in a paper using the illustration of Tasmanian Aborigines. Some believed that sea food was not to be eaten under any circumstances. They therefore perished in times of famine although surrounded by plentiful sea food. What we do is determined by what we think, by our view of reality. Superstitions, imaginary hobgoblins, grand narratives, apocalyptic ideas that have been part and parcel of human ideas for centuries influence our actions. What people do is a real mirror of what is important to them. If you even think the food you eat will do your harm, it very possibly will! The placebo effect is real.