Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Death of God (Pt. II), or Notes for a "Tale of Two Christianities"

With the Death of God, the supernatural world withers away. If the spirit world should against reason and Humanity exist, events in that world do not effect the denizens of this one. Supposed events of that world are reflections of events in this world. One may treat this pessimistically: the spiritual life of humanity is less than a dream with the concurrent "enlightenment" that at last the deception ends. It betrays a hatred of humanity to conclude that the values, dreams, and illusions engendered by that grand deception are also part of the swindle.

The epistemological shenanigans of our "Christian" contemporaries look like nothing so much as magical attempts to conjure up apparitions from the past. As long as those beliefs in God and the world of spirit was in its roots an honest belief, then those beliefs created strength, courage, and desire. But when "faith" is rooted in cowardice in the face of reality? When God is praised as a Comforter-God? What then?

The belief in God as a Creator-God gave birth to modern science. The passionate belief and faith in God found in the scientists of the early modern period is not a historical accident. These men believed that in understanding the world around them, they were learning to think the thoughts of God before Creation. One finds a fearlessness in their desire to know and understand.

Today's "Christians," especially the Evangelicals show a fearfulness and a close-mindedness when confronted with the works of their Creator-God. The world around them is deceptive: the truth of history, cosmology, physics, and the other sciences are only to be found in a "correct" reading of their holy books.

I can only explain this apparent contradiction between the Christians of today and the robust Christians of earlier epochs by drawing upon a previous post, The Last Moment of Innocence. Looking back at these earlier Christians, we of today can only describe them as naive, but not consciously or purposefully so. Their naivety is something that can only grasped in hindsight. Their naivety being their belief that world was so constituted so as to be understood by men, and that God wanted them to understand His Works as He Himself understood His Works. But instead of being a blushing bride, Reason turned out to be a whore, just as Luther said.

Consequently, the naive Christian believes because of a faith in the truth of doctrine and he is too honest to remain a Christian: either he believes because Christianity is "true" or he believes because he is told to believe it by his church, his family, his political party, or out of some other personal need.

The end result is if one remains a "Christian," belief becomes a shield, a protection, and a prophylaxis against uncertainty, fear, confusion, rebellion, and God only knows what else. Belief and faith are no longer means to seeing the world as it is.

* * *

I would to point out that not all Christians prior to the advent of Modern Science were such heroes of conscience and honesty as I portray them. It is my belief that that prior to the Late 19th and Early 20th Century that there were two competing visions of Christianity. "God" and His various attributes was the guarantor of a vision that the faithful could have it both ways: be excruciatingly honest and truthful AND belief firmly and without reserve in the existence and goodness of the Christian God. Once faith in this unifying vision was lost, these two strains in Western Christianity largely went their separate ways: Modern Science with its empirical-mindedness to the right, and Modern Christianity with its faith in faith to the left.

It is a perversion of modern religious historiography that seeks to tell the story of Christianity as a unity and unified story. Umberto Eco's The Name of The Rose provides a good contrast of these two strains of Christianity.

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