Wednesday, February 02, 2005

EOTM: Philosophy & Theology: The Old Gods

Philosophy was the original science, art, and theology. The word comes from the ancient greek and means "love of wisdom". There is good reason that the highest level of academic accomplishment is called "Ph.D.". Doctor originally meant "teacher", thus a doctor of philosophy is someone who teaches the love of the wisdom of a discipline. Love is the force which also drives the healer, the minister, the scientist and the Artist. Love of life.

This amazing gift and ability of consciousness and self-awareness which man has been so proud of because it distinguishes humanity from the "lower" animals also put on us a terrible burden: the ability to ask and the need to know "Why?". Humanity needs a "because". The history of humanity is the story of searching for "becauses", and the ultimate "because". The ultimate "because" has always been called god.

As humanity's curiousity and need to know yielded results of understanding some of the "why"s, the sciences were born. Astronomy allowed the learned to watch and predict the succession of the seasons, which was essential to the survival of early man. Botany allowed people to predict which foods would taste good and nourish them, and which would kill them. The more that thought took over from instinct in controlling human behavior, the more important science became. And, because the average person was too preoccupied with survival, and had neither the time nor the inclination to delve into the nature of things, those who did understand were recognized for the importance of their knowledge.

Yet as every parent knows, even when the "becauses" are understood (which they often are not, since each "why?" is really at the end of a chain of "why?"s and knowing the answers to all the "why?"s which came before is essential to understanding the answer to the current one), each "because" simply leads to another "why?". Beyond the limits of human knowledge has always existed the unknown and perhaps unknowable, and all the unanswered "why?"s have belonged to god. Theology is therefore the Philosophy of the unknowable.

Everything which has been within man's ability to understand "why", has been developed into a scientific discipline of study. Every 4 years we double the number of "becauses" that we have. The average college prep student knows more science than all the scientists in the world did as recently as 100 years ago. As we have learned to understand what previously only god understood, science and its bastard stepchild, technology have become our new gods. Gradually the question changed. People began to ask "why?" when what they really meant was "How?".

When people began to learn "how" to harness the understanding of "because" to bring about what they wanted, the will to power was born. Thus did humanity attempt to steal the power of god, by saying "MY will be done". Down to the very heart of the atom did we find ways to exert that power. Yet it is always the power of destruction. We "split" the atom, and unleash that awesome power, yet no scientist has ever taken a bunch of parts and "put together" an atom.

And then there are those groups of people whose questions are only "when?" and "why not?". The first aspire to godlike powers over others, the second group is so isolated from reality and the outside world that the only thing they can dwell on is how they want reality to be and how disappointed, angry, and hurt they are that it isn't that way. Their lives are consumed with bitter disappointment over finding out that they are NOT god.

But the "why?" we started out to find has been lost. And it was the second question to be asked anyway. "What?" is the beginning. Without an understanding of what it is, why does not matter. We have turned around begun looking the wrong direction, studying "how" things have been put together, rather than studying the purpose of putting them together. We know how to tear them apart and often when we will be done.

What and Why are still dealt with by philosophy and theology. What is the nature of god, and for what purpose were we created? Just to destroy and consume? Strange notion of god.


Further Reading:

Science & Technology - The New Gods

The Goddess and The God of the Wicca

The God Under Siege