Thesis Number: #3 (Page 3 of 10)
Silence of the Priests
The financial injustice that pervaded the Roman world in the time of Jesus has also corrupted our society. So why are the three monotheistic religions failing to censure the abuse of rents which, according to the theology of the land, are sacred and should be reserved for the common good? Unravelling that mystery may empower us to deal with the existential threat to our civilisation.
One of the duplicitous claims of the Enlightenment is the proposition that, for the sake of modernisation, religion must be separated from the state. Knowledge can best be accumulated through science, so we must set aside the unprovable beliefs of religion.
- Was this doctrine a cover for people who did not have other people’s best interests at heart? Was the case for science hijacked by privilege seekers who survive by schooling others into a blind secular faith? Why did it not prove possible to synthesise the spiritual and scientific realms into a new metaphysics?
History reveals that when a breakthrough became possible, the statecraft of greed (Thesis ♯1) intervened to protect the privileges of rent-seekers.
A World of Atoms
When the disciple Paul arrived in Athens to spread the words of Jesus, he observed how the Greeks had hedged their bets. In their pantheon of deities was an altar reserved for THE UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17:23), in case it became expedient to switch loyalties. That day came when Paul arrived in their midst. He was engaged in debate by philosophers who called themselves Epicureans (Acts 17:18). Here was the first opportunity to synchronise the Covenant with the new physics.
- Paul explained that the Unknown God was Yahweh.
- The Epicureans explained that the world was composed of atoms that fused without the benefit of design by a creator.
The philosophy of science, as a method for exploring the natural universe, was born in the speculations of a Greek philosopher. Epicurus (341-270 BCE) sought the happy life based on peace and freedom from fear, and from the absence of pain. Pleasure and pain were the measures of good and evil; gods do not reward or punish humans. For Epicurus, the universe was infinite and eternal, and constructed on the interaction of atoms. There was no prior grand design by a supernatural intelligence. The way to knowledge was through observation and logical deduction. The objective was the maximisation of happiness.
Epicurus was central to what we now call the Axial Age (800-200 BCE). Similar advances in thinking surfaced in China, India and the Near East. His philosophy was recovered by Lucretius (c.99 – c.55 BCE), a Roman poet who captured the Epicurean doctrine in a poem, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things).
Why should the doctrine of a universe composed of atoms lead humans into a state of happiness? Might an existence without order or meaning lead to a state of melancholy? Early humans needed their world to be structured and predictable, so that they might face the threats that would challenge the one species that sought self-consciousness. It was that order which humans, with the aid of their deities, infused into their social galaxy.
The natural universe had to be understood on its own terms. A methodology was needed to interrogate the facts in a way that yielded the clearest understanding of how the universe worked. That knowledge would enable humans to integrate their social galaxy within the universe on harmonious terms. By using their imagination, early humans were able to gradually distance themselves from nature; but only on the basis of laws which made co-existence with nature possible. Thus, they developed the 1st Law of Social Dynamics (Harrison 2012: Ch.2). This required that all the other life forms within nature should be respected, and that humans would share the riches of nature in the spirit of cooperation that made their own evolution possible.
But the evolutionary progress that might have been made, by combining the Covenant with the new physics, was not to be. Rent-seeking in the Roman Empire intruded. Christian bishops did attempt to warn the rulers in Rome that their land grabs and rent privatisation was degrading culture and creating a sub-class of dispossessed people, but their interventions failed (Harrison 2012: 8-9). Rent-seeking, which fosters a culture of decadence, meant that Rome would one day fall and drag down civilisation with it. Europe collapsed into a Dark Age.