- Mark Taylor - After God
- The scientific revolution happens as a response to the introduction of new psychotechnologies like Arabic numbers, the number zero, negative numbers, abstract algebra, in the west.
- As a result of the beginning scientific revolution, the axes of meaning (nomological order, normative order, narrative order) start to collapse.
- From the scientific perspective, the universe is an indifferent, inert machine and this traumatizes people.
- “The world is not meaningful. The world is not purposeful. The world is not filled with beauty. The world is not filled with truth. The world is not filled with goodness. The world is not even filled with chairs, cops tables, because those are not mathematical entities. Those are all illusions, created by your meaning-making mind in its willful self-deception, the way it asserts itself on the world.”
Welcome back to awakening from the meaning crisis. So last time we took a look at how Augustine drew all of this development, this very complex, sophisticated articulation of the axial revolution, drew it all together into a nomological order that brought with it the best of Aristotelian science, a normative order that brought with it, the best of the Platonic spirituality and narrative order that brought with it the best of the Christian process of moving through history, and of course along the ride comes some of the best psychotherapeutic techniques available from the ancient world. All of this was integrated together. These three orders that articulate the space of how we’re connected to ourselves, to each other and to the world. The nomological, the normative and the narrative order.
We saw, however, that while this does address our fundamental axes of meaning, even as it’s understood, by our best current cognitive science, this historical legacy starts to come under threat. Initially it comes under threat in a way that doesn’t seem very threatening. People are just changing how they’re using the psychotechnology of reading, they’re going from a Lexio Divina participatory perspectival transformative form of recitation into a silent consumptive model where I’m trying to consume information. And what knowledge is is an inner coherence between my propositions rather than a transformative conformity to the world.
And that of course, It’s born out of a slowing and then accelerating rediscovery of the Aristotelian Corpus and the best science of the ancient world. And there’s the threat of how do we incorporate this authoritative figure into the world view that was bequeathed to us by Augustine.
And that challenge is taken up by Aqui as and Aquinas does this, and it’s hard to see how it could have been done, by returning to the fundamental grammar of the axial revolution, the two worlds mythology and reconfiguring it into two real worlds. A natural world understood by reason and a supernatural world understood by faith where now faith is now understood as how love transforms the will and the will is primarily how I assert certain propositions to be true. And as I mentioned that separation, while it solves the problem at the time brings with it, the threat that as the supernatural world becomes non-viable to us, that we will lose the axial revolutions’ heritage. We will separate love from reason and spirituality from science in a particularly pernicious and dangerous fashion. I want to keep going. And if for those of you who want to pursue this in more depth, I can recommend to you the book After God by Mark Taylor. A tremendous influence on my thinking.
And I think it articulates a lot of what I’m going to be talking about in a very clear and perspicacious manner. But some things are happening. There’s immediate consequences, people picking up on Aquinas and responding to it, and we can see it in sort of two figures, deeply influenced by Aquinas and they represent two particular lines of development that are going to influence each other. One is Meister, Eckhart, and the other is William of Ockham. That’s where we get Ockham’s razor from, a thing that is often invoked by various skeptards without a full understanding of what Ockham meant by it. Ockham certainly didn’t mean it to be how it’s often used by people, in a dismissive fashion.
So Eckart represents a pivotal exemplary, maybe even a culminating figure of a group of people within Germany and Germany is going to be central to all of this from now on.
And that is of course going to be a dangerous precedent to set for Germany. But Eckhart represents a group that are called the Rhineland mystics. And others who bring about a transformation in the understanding of a human spirituality, they bring about a change in the normative order.
So Aquinas basically changes the nomological order. He separates it into these two worlds, and now there’s a chasm between them, right? There’s a chasm between these worlds there. Love can’t lift reason out to the supernatural world. Reason has no home there.
So a different meaning of spirituality now tends to be emphasized in the Rhineland mystics. They’re deeply influenced by Neoplatonism that Eckhart think is influenced in some way by the whole Neoplatonic undercurrent within Christianity. There’s of course the background history it’s still there of the Gnostics. The last crusade is actually not against the Arabs in the middle East. It is against the Cathars in Southern France. And the cathars, I would argue, are a Gnostic revival, a huge revival of Gnosticism.
So there’s a huge Gnostic revival. And of course there’s, the Neoplatonic tradition. Eckhart picks and the other Rhineland mysticspick this up, and what they do is they bring about a real understanding of the normative order. And it changes from being the Neoplatonic anagoge. It changes from being that whole conformity, that whole ascent in self-transcendence. Self-transcendence disappears from spirituality as does the connection between spirituality and wisdom, where wisdom is understood as your capacity for educating yourself in self-transcendence to improve your meaning in life. Now, what happens is instead of an ascent upward, there’s more god’s descent downward into you.
And there’s important precedents for this in the ancient world. But that being said, nevertheless, there’s a fundamental difference here. Aquinas had talked about love driving the will in faith and the Rhineland mystics. they’re going to replace this ascent spirituality with descent spirituality.
And what they’re going to do is they’re going to say, look, wha love is, it’s not that love moves the will. Love is a way in which the will moves. That’s an important change. It’s not that love moves the will. Instead, the way the will moves, is love specifically when the will negates itself. That’s love.
So they pick up on, and that’s why I emphasize it earlier on in this series, they pick up on the sacrificial aspect of love. That to love is to sacrifice yourself. So how is is the wheel moving in order to be loving? Well, the will is negating itself. When my will is self-centered and it’s egocentric that of course is the opposite of agape.
I have to sacrifice this. I have to negate my willful self-assertion in order to become a conduit for agape. Or as Eckhart would say to make a space so that God can come to dwell within me. So the idea is that what spirituality is about is about the will negating its own self-assertion and making a space in which God’s will is not in resistant.
So here’s the idea: God’s will, is this agapic love and we are resisting that. And what we need to do is we have to stop resisting. We have to negate our own self-assertion, the way we’re expressing ourselves to press outward and we have to make a space so that God can flow in. And what this does is, it makes self-negation and inner conflict central to spirituality.
So, what had been incidental and contingent in Paul and Augustine, the fact that they have inner conflict, it becomes much more valorized in this new spirituality.I have to sort of be in perpetual conflict with myself. I have to be negating the self so that eventually I empty myself.
Now I don’t want to misrepresent Eckhard. He is one of my favorite authors, there’s beautiful wisdom about how to overcome one’s attachment to one’s thinking and one’s self-image that are drawn from the Neoplatonic heritage and of great value.
But nevertheless, this model of spirituality is ultimately a battle of wills, your will against itself so it’s not against God’s will. This becomes a central idea for what’s going on in the spirituality of the time. Now that’s overlapping with a new emerging world view.
So.Ockham sees God’s will as his primary faculty. Now some of you may be saying, well, why do we have to talk all this God talk? Look, you have to understand how this God grammar developed and how it has woven its way into the very grammar of our culture and our cognition. Whether or not, you believe in a God or not is actually quite irrelevant to what I’m talking about right now.
The fact is people have, and they have sown in ways of thinking and being into your heritage. So for Ockham, unlike for Augustine, and I would say the whole Neoplatonic tradition, it’s not god’s reason, his intelligibility that is the source of his being, for Ockham it’s his will. And you can see how this lines up.
Aquinas has made will the faculty. I have access to the supernatural. The faculty of will becomes central to your spirituality and to God here. And what does that mean? Why does that matter? Why would he say that? Because again, here’s the chang: it’s not God’s agpaic love that is his creativity. God’s will is the source of his ability.
God speaks the world into existence. This is an act of assertion. God asserts the world when he creates it. And you say, okay, so what? So remember your model of God, whether or not you believe in God’s irrelevant. Your model of God has a tremendous influence on how you understand yourself and reality.
God’s will supersede his reason now. That’s very, very important.
It means that God is not bound by rationality. He’s not bound by how things cohere in a rational fashion. Reason is not in any way central to God. That’s why the rational, the ascent through reason is gone.
That means that any order that we find in existence is arbitrarily imposed on it by God’s will.
God speaks it. It’s an act of will. He’s not bound by any rational principles of organization. It is just raw power and fiat on his part.
You say, okay, so what does that have to do with the topic of this lecture series? Well, as I forewarned, your model of how God is, is a paradigmatic model of how you understand yourself to be. Again, this is regardless of whether or not you believe in God right now. So Ockham concludes that we are like God,
We don’t find an order. You, look, here’s my desk, here’s a book, here’s a book, here’s a book, here’s a book. These are all books. They all belong to the category of books, right. That’s part of what they are. They’re books. And Ockham says, no, they’re not.
Whatever order or pattern you find in there, you’re making it by how you’re speaking about it. This is called nominalism. The way God speaks and wills, whatever order there is, we’re making whatever patterns we find by how we’re speaking about them. They’re not actually there.
This isn’t really a book. There’s nothing in reality that groups needs together. It is only in my mind by using the term that groups them together. Now because it’s automatic for me and I can’t help but see this as a book, but the problem is there is no universal bookness, forgive the language I’m speaking. And language gathers things together. And the mind forms these patterns in the order. But all that’s really out there are raw individuals.
All that’s really, there are raw individuals and perhaps causal relations between them.
So notice what’s happening, I’m reading and I’m now reading inside my head. Knowledge is just how all the different signs of language cohere together and whatever order there is, is only in my head. It’s in here, it’s in how I’m using the language. It’s all inside the language. There’s nothing out there in the world.
The world is now in a very real sense absurd. It is not in itself, inherently intelligible. It’s only intelligible insofar as I speak about it or in so far as God speaks it into existence.
Now notice what it is that this is doing. The supernatural world is now not a source of reason and rational order.
Now, all of this is slowly unfolding. Spirituality is being changed. The self negation of will. The world is being changed. It’s the nominal world in which what’s out there are raw individuals and whatever pattern or order comes from how we speak about them.
While all of that is taking shape, something disastrous happens shortly afterwards. Ockham is just, I think, just dead overlapping with some of the later Rhineland mystics. But what happens is the black death, we think it’s the bubonic plague.
And this is a disaster, right? It lays waste to a third of Europe’s population. So in the Bible, the end of the world is predicted by the four horsemen of the apocalypse death war, postulants, famine, all these things start happening. There’s the bubonic plague. Massive pestilence. There’s famine because there’s an extended wet period and the crops are dying. There’s a huge war, a hundred year war, the crusades. There’s the battle against the cathars, as I mentioned. And what happens is the church creates the first secret police. The church creates the holy inquisition to try and root out the last of the cathars.
There’s the Gnostic revival and the holy inquisition is created to find the catheters that have escaped, to find the heretics and bring them to trial.
Imagine, how this feels analogous to the Hellenistic domicide. People are dying. Villages are going out of existence. Social order is being radically disrupted. There’s war. And then the church is not helping you. It’s actually sending out people to try and find if you’re a heretic
So first of all, people’s confidence and the world view that they had been born into is being radically undermined. They literally think it’s the end of the world.
Most of the institutions and social structures are broken or at least put under significant strain. Something else happens that’s really important. Of course, there’s a disruption. And social order, people move around and more importantly, there’s a labor shortage. So many people die.
And because some of the order has broken down, people are free to move around more than they were. They leave the land. It’s like a bit of like the bronze age collapse and the end of the Roman empire. People can now engage in some experimentation. And what does this mean? Well, it means that there’s a labor shortage and there’s more freedom of geographical motion and social change. People start to be able to sell their labor for more money and to even sell their labor.
They start to be able to change their status through their own efforts. Before you were locked into a quite rigid social structure, a feudal structure. But now, because of the chaos around you, you can actually make a difference to your own life through your own efforts.
And strangely enough, all of this forms a weird kind of consistency. The world actually isn’t fundamentally ordered. The order is just given by God and it could just be removed. And then the true chaos of things is revealed. We impose an order like God does, and by my willpower, I can change my status. I can make my son and myself into something different.
So what’s happening here is that a new view emerges, in which reality is primarily being seen as a chaotic backdrop against which a battle of wills is occurring.
And God is starting to less and less be a source of rational order and more and more to be a source of arbitrary power.
Now, many historians argue that the black plague also opens up new social experimentation. People start to, as I said, sell their labor, start to become more entrepreneurial, are willing to move around more and you get a rise of commercialism. Commercialism starts to ascend.
Now commercialism is really, really powerful, right? You can make use of disparity and demand to accrue wealth. So I’ve got a lot of wool here. How much do you want for my wool? Not very much. I got a lot of wills too. I’m going to go sell or travel over here. Do you have any wool? No. What will you give me for this wool?
Lots of gold. Oh, okay. Wow. I go back here. You know what? I can buy with this gold more wool. I can go back here and I can get wealthy and look, what’s happening here. I’m doing it through my own effort. It has nothing to do with the church. It has nothing to do with the aristocracy, it has nothing to do with raising grain, farming the land.
This is like magic.
Now there’s problems. Of course, with that, one of the problems is political. The aristocracy is in the way. And so this emerging middle class is going to more and more challenge the aristocrac. But there’s also the problem with trade, especially if your ship sinks.
So, what do you do? Well, first of all, you’re going to create some new institutions. You’re going to create banks, money to lend so you can finance such expeditions. You’re going to create insurance companies in case your ship sinks. Now you’re going to do something really important.
What you are going to do is say, look, I’m not going to take all the individual risks. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get a bunch of my friends together. And like the way the church is the body of Christ, the body corpus, I’m going to make one body out of all these people. I’m going to incorporate, I’m going to create a corporation. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to have shares in the risk.
We’ll share the risk. We’ll have shares in the corporation. And when we get a profit, we will divide the profit. In the end, we will have dividends. We’ll create corporations and financial institutions. And then what we’ll start to do is put pressure on the government, the state to not just be working for the church and for the aristocracy.
One of the things the state is going to start doing is to start protecting contracts and enforcing rules on these social institutions. And you get the emergence of corporate capitalism and the corporate state. Now that’s important because it means that now people have a place in which they can look for power, the ability to change their life and for norms to govern their behavior that have nothing to do with the church or the aristocracy.
That’s very important already, because what that means is people are creating a secular alternative. They’re not setting out to do that, but that’s what they’re doing. They’re creating a sector, an alternative, a secular source of power and wealth and prestige. And they’re beginning to secularize the state in order to safeguard those secular endeavors.
Think about it. The supernatural world is largely irrelevant to all of these secular projects.
Now this commercialism and trade also means something else really important. I gotta get better at my psychotechnologies. Because I need to process information a lot better. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to import always new psychotechnologies and look out for them.
What happens is people are replacing Roman numerals with the Hindu Arabic numerals. If you’ve ever done calculations with Roman numerals, it’s a cumbersome and long and slow and stupid.
This speeds it up, it empowers you. It’s apsychotechnology that makes your ability to process and calculate information way faster. That, of course, comes through the Arab world because of increased trade, but also because of the crusades, et cetera. Also comes in its algebra, the use of letters to represent variables rather than numbers.
What comes in is there’s zero. And with that almost immediately, the ability to use negative numbers, because sometimes when you’re running your business, you’re running in a deficit, you’re running in debt. Notice what’s happening. You’re getting a powerful upsurge in the kind of mathematical psychotechnology that is available for people.
What else are people going to do? Well, they’re going to improve their celestial navigation because if I can sail the waters faster and better, there’s less chance I will lose all of my profits when my ship sinks. Well, I’m going to more carefully observed the stars and I’m going to apply this new way of thinking, this Aristotelian, logical, coherent, propositional way of thinking, and I’m going to use the new math and the new algebra.
So I’ve got this new way of thinking. I’ve got the new psychotechnology. I’m going to put them together and observe the heaven’s way more carefully.
And something that had been known for a while is going to become much more prominent. The heavens don’t behave in this nice orderly fashion, the way Aristotle and Ptolemy said they do. For example, if you look at Mars in the heavens, it does what is called the retrograde of Mars.
And as you get this way more careful observation, this Aristotelian propositional inferential way of thinking, trying to get clear definitions, and that’s allied to this new math mathematical psychotechnology, people start to discover how chaotic the heavens actually are.
And of course, what they try to do is they start trying to fiddle with the system. So the earth at the center and stuff’s going around it, but on these spheres, there’s other things spinning in opposite directions and you get all this epicycles and it gets convoluted and complex.
And then Copernicus comes along and says, and this is really crucial, the math is better if you put the sun at the center
Notice we talked about this before. Aristotle had said the suncould be at the center and there was all these arguments against it. Copernicus doesn’t have any answer to any of those arguments. But he doesn’t need them now because people are committed to this new way of thinking.
They’re committed to this new mathematical psychotechnology. They’re committed to this new Aristotelian way of thinking. And if it makes the math better, that’s good enough.
Look, you have to understand what this means. You have to really get it.
Let’s go back. You’re using this Aristotelian way of thinking, right? Remember what was Aristotle’s marks of how you determined if things were real? Is the relevant organ functioning? Yes. Is the medium not distorting the information? Yes. Do other people after rational discussion agree with you? Yes. Remember we did the example. If you hear somebody say,”Oh, I heard that Susan said she loved you at the party”. This is how you determine if things are real.
Watch this. It’s morning. We are all stone cold, sober. We all have perfect 20, 20 vision. I don’t, but let’s say we all do. We all watch the sun rise in the East, pass overhead and sinks in the West. We all agree that that’s what we all see. We talk about it. We argue about it. We come to an agreement and we’re all wrong.
The air is clear. We’re stone, cold, sober. Our eyes are working perfectly. We rationally discuss it. We all agree and we’re all wrong. It’s an illusion. Now, here’s the thing that should immediately occur to put yourself back there. If that’s an illusion, what else isn’t an illusion? How do you know if any of them is real?
Because all you have be honest, “Oh, well, my mind and my senses are working normally. Everything seems clear. There’s no distorting fog or not. And people agree with me.” That’s what they see. That’s what most of your sense of realness is based on that’s why Aristotle’s view was so powerful.
And yet what Copernicus is saying is, that can all be satisfied and it’s still not real because the math says it isn’t real.
We had the theory that we were in touch with the world we’re in conformity with the world that’s gone.
What’s happened is the following. Here’s the world out here and here’s our mind. And in between is this barrier. Your sense experience, isn’t you being in touch with the world. Notice I’m using a sense term. It’s not putting me in touch with the world. It’s actually a wall between me and the world.
The only thing that cuts through all of this illusion, this is a very narrow channel of math.
All of a sudden, you are mostly out of touch with the world. This is terrifying. It’s terrifying. So you’ve got all this chaos going on around you, and then you’ve got this view that suddenly says to you, well, how do you know this isn’t an illusion? How do you know that this table is here? How do you know that your mother actually loved you?
You really have to go back and see that we’re protected. We’re protected by our loss of participatory knowing, a perspective of knowing we assert merrily in our minds. Yes, the earth is not at the center. But we don’t actually translate that existentially into what it means perspectively.
What does that mean about your participation in reality?
Put yourself back into what it would be like to just learn this for the first time. And you can see the terror. We’re becoming radically disconnected from the world. You can see the influence of Ockham here. We’re trapped behind our experiences.
Now, Galileo comes along and says, “Ah, but I’ve got an answer to Ockham!” This is what Copernicus and this is what this new scientific way is showing him. The new scientific way is where I put Aristotelian logic and the new math together and I put careful observation together.
What it’s telling me is that the, yes, sense experience, you can’t trust those. But mathematics is the language of the universe. He’s very influenced by that old platonic view about abstract mathematical things, being what’s real. Now what Galileo does is he starts to put that new way of thinking about math, that new way of observing, that new way of reasoning into practice.
He does something really unusual. So up until that time math had been primarily been understood via geometry. So the quintessential math text is Euclid’s elements, right? Math and geometry are pretty much synonymous. Now there’s arithmetic and calculation. And we already talked about those new mathematical tools, but Galileo does something really, really interesting.
He starts using the geometry in a completely abstract fashion. Because look, my sense experiences can’t be trusted, right? The way I am thinking of things doesn’t have to, in any way, look like what it’s represented. There doesn’t have to be any sensual or experiential similarity between my thoughts and the world.
Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a triangle. I’m going to use geometry and he’s using it to represent the relationship between distance and time. And that gives me speed. And there’s nothing triangular about speed. He’s using the geometry to represent abstract mathematical relations. These have nothing to do with how I’m actually experiencing the world.
There’s no conformity, between this and the way the world is in my experience. So he starts to use math in a purely abstract symbolic way.
He starts to observe things. For example, he sees a chandelier swinging in a church and he measures that by tracking with his pulse, he’s rolling balls down inclined planes. And what comes out of all of this?
Well, Galileo kills the universe.
Because what Galileo realizes is inertial motion. Things don’t move because there’s an inner drive and they’re trying to get where they belong. That’s a purposeful narrative way of understanding the world. Things don’t move for that reason. Things move because they’ve been hit by a purely random arbitrary, external force, and they will continue moving like that until another random external force comes along.
Before Galileo, everything is alive. Everything is driving, trying to get where it’s belong, where it belongs to make the universe a more beautiful ordered place. After Galileo, everything is bad. There is no inner life to matter. Nothing is moving on purpose at all.
Now that is really important because before Galileo, you were like everything else because you act on purpose. And so does everything else.
When Galileo kills the universe, you’re now a little Island of purpose in a vast desert of purposelessness. You’re alone. You’re ontological cast away all by yourself. You’re weird and strange and you don’t belong. And the universe is an indifferent machine.
Notice what this does. Look at this. And we will talk about it again. Pay attention to the words you’re using.
Inertial motion. What’s at the heart of inertia? Inert, dead, lifeless. Not capable of moving itself. And what happens is Galileo starts to understand matter differently. In the old world view matter was the potential for information, but now matter goes to being that which resists.
Matter resists my will. It’s defined in terms of my resistance. Whyis that so important? Why do I want matter to be inert and resisting me? Look, it’s actually a beneficial thing if the world is resisting. What everybody is telling me is, “Oh, it’s all chaos and I’m deceiving myself. I’m creating all these illusions. The only hope I have is if the world pushes back on me, if the world resists my will, everything is defined in terms of will and the resistance to will.”
So now what you have is this lifeless universe and a battle between isolated wills, largely creating illusions. And this vast inert willless, but nevertheless resistant machinery of the universe.
It has another function by making matter an actual substance. Rather than the potential for information Galileo removes there being any basis for evil.
Before we had an, we had a cosmological explanation for evil. Evil was a whole and being. Like pure potential, pure chaos. There is no such thing now. Matter is just this resistant inert stuff. Which means we’ve lost something and it’s telling to us, we don’t really have a way of talking about evil.
We don’t know. We don’t have a metaphysics of what evil is. We think of evila as just excessive immorality. But what is evil? Well, people used to have a very coherent and sophisticated answer to that. Now they either say, well, ultimately there is no such thing, or I don’t know, or it’s just a way of talking about, great immmorality
And Galileo gives us the scientific method. Notice how it’s a legacy from the axial revolution. The scientific method is a way for overcoming our willful generation of illusion and self deception. The whole point of the scientific method is to get the resistance of the world, the inert purposeless world, to resist our purposes and our will, to show us how we are deceiving ourselves.
Now that means that you’re going to give huge priority to the scientific method and to the math.
So what Galileo is going to say is, look, the mathematical properties are the real properties of the thing. Anything that I can measure mathematically about this is going to be real. It’s going to be right in the object. As we will come to say, it’s going to be objective.
The mathematical properties are objective. Those are real.
So where are all these other properties? What about all the things they can’t measure mathematically? What about how sweet the honey is? How beautiful the sunset is, how meaningful these words are, what is all that meaning? Where’s all that meaning?
Well, that’s non-mathematical, so it’s not in the world. It must be inside the mind. Remember, we’ve developed a mind as this internal chamber, that manipulates language and propositions. Trapped inside your mind, that’s where all the meaning is. That’s where all the value is. That’s where all the beauty is.
All of that non- mathematical stuff. That’s subjective.
It’s only in the mind, it’s an experience, the illusion of it being in the world. The world is not meaningful. The world is not purposeful. The world is not filled with beauty. The world is not filled with truth. The world is not filled with goodness. The world is not even filled with chairs, cops tables, because those are not mathematical entities.
Those are all illusions, created by your meaning-making mind in its willful self-deception, the way it asserts itself on the world.
Notice what’s happening. The orders are breaking down.
See, one of the great strengths of the Aristotelian worldview was that your view of knowledge and your view of the world mutually supported each other. But the great weakness of that worldview starts to unravel. So does the other, and the unraveling accelerates as the Aristotelian world breaks down.
The Aristotelian theory of knowing breaks down. And as that breaks down, this starts to spin very fast and in an accelerating fashion.
Notice where we are already, where we’re disconnected from the world. We’re trapped inside our heads. We’ve lost perspectival and participatory knowing, self-transcendence, all the meaning, all the beauty, all that that was out in the world. That’s all gone. It’s all trapped inside of our heads.
All that’s out there is a purposeless inert, chaotic absurdity. And all that’s here within me is inner conflict and a battle of wills with other human beings.
So it’s no wonder that many people were experiencing this as a trauma. Now here’s the thing. None of us are immune to this trauma. We just don’t think about it anymore. Or what we do is we’ll wake up at 3:00 AM in the morning, laying on our bed and think these thoughts and realize how disconnected we are from reality, how we believe in a scientific world view in which our meaning and purpose ourself and the objects we interact with the tables and chairs and cars and everything of that ilk is all ultimately not real. And all the purposes we’re striving for are not real. All the meaning we’re making. It’s not real.
And then fundamentally I’m not real. You are not real.
Do you ever awake at 3 am and think I’m just very complex pattern of atoms. That’s all. That’s really there. Everything else is just an illusion. And everything that I’m doing, I’m doing for things that aren’t real, for a self that isn’t real ,in a universe that doesn’t give a damn about me, is completely indifferent.
It’s not that it hates me. It’s completely inert and indifferent to me.
So, as you can imagine, this is not going to leave religion and the spiritual life untouched. There are individuals who are going to be effected by Ockham and the Rhineland mystics and the rise of the new science and are going to try and reconfigure Christianity to deal with this crisis that is emerging.
And so as the scientific revolution is picking up steam, as the commercial and corporate revolutions are picking up steam, as the secularization of the state is picking up steam, the Protestant reformation occurs. Of course it occurs in Germany because that’s where everything is occurring. Where everything is going to keep occurring. So what I want to investigate with you next time is the Protestant reformation and how it furthers the dissolution of the nomological order, the normative order and the narrative order.
Notice how they’re already all under significant stress. This new scientific worldview, the nomological order is one that I don’t fit into. The normative order of ascent and self-transcendence, that’s gone. The narrative order of there being a story, and a life, and a purpose to things that’s gone.
Luther is going to come and he’s going to bring about a process of reformation that is going to exacerbate this collapse of the axes of meaning and the ways in which we are connected to ourself each other in the world. We’ll take a look at that next time we’re together. Thank you very much for your time and attention.