History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The difficulty of understanding the modern transition

March 7th, 2015 · No Comments


The modern transition is confusing to many because it looks like the Scientific Revolution is the key to everything, but the larger picture shows something much more complex. That is why it is important to draw attention to the Reformation, which in the ‘macro model’ of WHEE,considers an ‘integrated version’ of the rise of the modern based on complementary opposites, as an integrated whole, but not a logically consistent one. Oh yes, the dialectic (which noone ever uses, except to produce mush). This is a strong reminder that the one-dimensional versions of modernity are misleading and pretty much false. The problem is that science can’t yet generate what should actually be science for issues beyond the biochemical. That’s a dismal situation. But as complexity rises from physics it seems like a barrier is reached where new foundations are needed to generate science. This is why ‘evolutionism’ gets stuck in wrong thinking: It is not a branch of physics, or biochemistry, but a high-level subject that requires its own foundations. The problem has a variant which is easier to solve: the relation of the suddenly entering buddhism in relation to modernity. But even here the secular humanists balk.

A close look shows the way out of this confusion is already there in thinkers like Kant who tries to explicitly mediate the questions of Newtonian physics. But he is simply ignored now, and we see a movement like the new atheism trying to produce a basic monism that is mostly baloney. The moral is that while religion may seem out of date for many, the reality is that the modernist viewpoint is still in formation, and can’t really proceed until a basic sketch of man as he is can be formulated with something more than neuroscience fundamentalism. Here the hidden cult of Spinoza is generating a new ethos for scientism. But the problems with Spinoza were clearly outlined in the Kant era.

We see here why the attempt of the early nineteenth century socialists, leading to Marx/Engels, confronted a confusing situation: the time was ripe for a critique of religion (and that cam immediately in the wake of the Hegel school with David Strauss) but it was not ripe with anything better than positivism. In a way that phase was important to get unstuck from religions conservatives, a unique feature of the French Revolutionary era, where the English Civil War had seen religion as the promoter of revolutionary democracy.

A new proletarian movement needs to grasp that the planet has over two billion monotheists and that the left would convent them to atheism to produce socialism. That’s unrealistic to the point of absurdity. The work of the post-Hegel generation was vital in creating a new milieu, but at this point the actual result was a transient and fragile reductionism and Iron Caging.

In any case it is important to consider a sort of historical archaeology of the early modern to realize that communism was founded in the Reformation. This strange reality shows that a popular movement of religious communism, which has never been tried, could generate a populist movement. But the odds against coherent formulations of the Xtian legacy are high, given the exceptional nature of the Xtian belief nexus which was generated in the late Roman Empire. Xtian theologians have forgotten how arbitrary it is to fix Xtianity in the mentations of that period. But the reason is obvious: the emergence of Xtianity froze at the point of its ‘conquest’ of the Roman Empire.

IN the modern case we need to realize the way that religion and science came into conjunction. Study the transitions (Axial Age) of Israel and Greece (and India/China) and then jump to the modern transition: we can see all at once that the modern transitions is trying to integrate science with additional influences of the religions of the Axial Age, especially Xtianity. That is a warning to those who do scientism in reverse and try to force religion on modernity: the whole task of integrating such opposites is going to be something unexpected, and it will take time. Science would for many be the best foundation. Fine, but that won’t arrive from science as it is now.
In any case it would not be hard to recreate Xtianity for a new era, but the resistance there could be counterproductive. In fact this is the reason for the sudden change in tactics of revolutionaries in the era of the French Revolution. The intractable nature of Catholicism shew the democratic revolution confronting Xtianity in its pre-Reformation format.
We don’t need to cater to the miracle lore of early Xtianity: we need simply to see the issues of religion in larger world history and to see that the Axial Age and its study easily surpasses the antique myths of revelation with an equivalent that is actually well adapted to modern thought.

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