Xtianity is going to be a victim of its own historical myth, even as we discover evidence that it was something we barely know. I think time is running out for the whole game: we cannot wait around while one account after another fails to really produce a convincing re-start. The hounds of its demolition are overtaking the whole game–the new atheists whose legacy of Biblical Criticism goes back to the seventeenth century. That is four centuries. The whole game is set for demolition. But the truth of the history of xtianity still hasn’t been told. And the purely ‘material’ hypothesis is almost as bad as the spiritual. But whatever else we think of xtianity it is false to say it had no basis in the ‘spiritual’. In the genesis of the Axial Age, in reality more of a short interval generating a new era, we see the beginnings of an initiative against polytheism, and this explosive new transformation, which got stuck in the too primitive realization of Israelistim, was dislodged from its inertia in the coming of xtianity. We can debunk this religion in any fashion we please, but the larger dynamical view of its emergence and realization shows us an enigma that can’t be reduced to sociological analysis.
That is not a statement of apologetics. A religion that only becomes comprehensible after it has entered its conclusion is one that is at risk of simply dissipating. This is why the initiative of the new atheists, in reality an incomplete replay of the legacy of secular humanism of an era apparently lost to scientism, has such an easy time with the derelict remnants of churches. But we should be mindful that the substitutes are going to be worse and try to find the real significance of modernity: it is a far more complex phenomenon than we imagine and the great irony is that the modern transition, in the sense of WHEE with its analysis of the so-called macrosequence, is far richer in ‘spiritual’ potential than the period of Old Testament mythology construction. Old Testament culture was till a crude barbarism that couldn’t shake off the dead legacy of animal sacrifice. The term ‘spiritual’ is wrong for many. We don’t need to use it, save as a temporary kludge. On the way to something like a modern version of the ancient Samkhya a universal materiality of the whole cascade of reality is both possible and realizable in some future of science. But in the passage to this point we need to see that modernity is not a feat of reductionist scientism. It is a complex construct of many opposites, and the first taste of new visions of reality arose in the wake of the Reformation and are prophesied in the almost quaint movement of German classical philosophy. As so often a moment of creative advance in philosophy, one its own creators saw as a passage beyond religion, its continuation failed to appear as a new frozen legacy simply took shape and became a monument, as the age of positivism, and the Iron Cage took over and gave us the misleading portrait of the early modern we have now. In its wake a very limited version of modernity was constructed by social politicians, who gave us darwinism, scientism, crude atheism, and much else that is a misleading portrait of a modern age of revelation, a secular revelation. The real significance of modernity, its real potential has never been realized. A similar process took hold in antiquity. In the wake of the great era of Greece we got the sterile Roman Empire and a process of social degeneration so severe that by the time of the coming of xtianity the Roman populace was so degraded that it was fixated by the Roman games. Let us hope we will evade such an degeneration of the modern achievement. I think that the legacy of religion has endured because of this phenomenon of stalled modernity. Noone can take the early modern to its true realization, although figures like Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer actually attempted to do this. Scientists have claimed a monopoly of social ideology and dismissed all rivals, but their own incompetence has been unable to produce a true theory of evolution. Instead we have a neo-barbarism in the darwinian ideology used as a prop for a form of survival of the fittest economy. That verdict is grim. Scientists constantly claim the mantle of social thought, yet are incapable of debriefing their own capture by ideological minions of the reign of capital.
So, I am not real defender of xtianity at this point, save with a gesture or flourish of a ‘virtual church’ of the communist Munzer. This church of historical memory is not a viable Reformation of the Reformation but a gaze backward to try and see the true meaning of what xtianity shows from its history. The gospel of Thomas is an apparition of a lost world. And it is indeed lost. We are not going to resurrect this ancient religion. It is little but Santa Claus fantasy at his point. It think that the history of that religion will be more truly told in the wake of its demise, and that’s a sign that it is beyond recovery. The enigma of modernity is the successor and its ‘revelations’ demand a new man and a new era of thought.