Friday, 30 September 2016

Scientists unearth the Root of All Evil

Roman Christians faced a double threat: an enemy within and 'ad portas' - at the gates. Barbarians within and without were attacking the Eternal City who knew neither right nor wrong and were enslaved by their uncontrolled passions. The powerful Western Roman Empire was declining into the terrifying 'Dark Ages'. Some escaped into remote places and set up monasteries ('mona' means 'living alone'). Such retreats became centres of intellectual progress, learning, specialist skills in music, notation, illumination, self-sufficiency and agriculture.

Sumela Monastery in Eastern Turkey was built in 386 AD
By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader,, CC BY-SA 3.0,
There are academics today who believe that the West is rapidly declining into a 'Technological Dark Age'. Is that people armed with mobiles and axeheads? The majority of the liberally-educated secular elite seem to have turned aside from morality as the only healthy context for personal and national life. Many have turned entirely to greed, status, pleasure, individualism, materialism - in other words to ‘self worship’. We have lived during the prologue to this new Dark Age, for most of our lives now. But increasingly, the modern world excludes God, faith and virtue from public debate yet it fails to offer anything solid on which to construct a coherent, deep, stable and connected community life without them. Since only what we do for God has enduring meaning and efficacy, secular life soon fragments into impersonal desolation in the midst of the now widely recognised 'broken society'. This is the state of 'alienation' and many marginalised are struggling with it.  The 'noble virtuous' feel they are being actively marginalised too. Barbarism is not waiting beyond our frontiers : it is firmly ensconced within them, evident in the normalising of greed, pornography, euthanasia, mass manipulation, exploitation, child abuse, drug-taking, family breakdown, lack of compassion and family feeling.

The social construction around us upheld by the establishment, politically and socially, originates in The Enlightenment the philosophy behind the atheist, violent French Revolution. It draws on Jean Jacques Rousseau who rejected the Biblical teaching of Original Sin, that man is born flawed. Rousseau himself was a despicable father to his many children whom he abandoned in an orphanage, without any sign of duty to them. Rousseau promulgated widely his notion of the innocence of childhood and blameless manhood : 'the noble savage'. He claimed that it is corrupt society that ruins 'innocent man' - hence society must improve, not man.

Scientists are now waking up to the truth. Man is not born innocent : man is born a flawed, even a potential Cain - a killer. Far from being a cherub, mankind is more like the wolf which kills its own species and the ape which also kills its own species but to a lesser extent than the wolf. It is society, parents, teachers and the church which restrain man's evil. Without the police and justice system, scientists think there would be a hundredfold increase in murders and massacres every day. A sense of security unknown: and our homes would be veritable fortresses. As a male student said once, in my hearing: “If there were no police force, many more people would be rapists”. Researchers know that hunter gatherer societies have a much higher degree of homicide, and rape, than we do.

So Rousseau was massively wrong about the nature of Man and Thomas Hobbes who said that in primitive times life was 'brutish and short' was right. We are by nature passionate, envious, arrogant, murderous, narcissistic and machiavellian. We are not naturally righteous or God-fearing. Our inner thoughts are also infected - even if we do not act on them. We need to repent internally to become whole and free : our true selves. This inner 'devilry' - a kind of disease or addiction - has so strong a hold on us that we need a divine Saviour to free us from the 'wolf' eating us from within. 

As a society, we urgently need to look critically at the negative influences of Rousseau’s lie which is the root of humanism. We need to re-examine the falsehood of modern secularism to halt the impending Dark Age in which the virtuous will be hounded, using advanced technology.  Once the noble withdraw from any society, there is no inner restraint and the ancient wolf takes over (as Shakespeare pointed out).

One difficulty is that Christianity has been corrupted from within by modernity. Weakness has 'kneecapped' most churches and most individual believers. Weakened Christianity manifestly fails to challenge secular presuppositions. It is the story of the frog being boiled to death as the heat is turned up too slowly for it to jump out. Churches need robust faith and spiritual discipline to have any effect on a fallen society, which is no longer neutral about those who believe in anything, outside secularism. Modernity is vehemently anti-Christian unconsciously bent on eradicating any sign of belief in the Christian God. Believers sorely want to escape from this Enlightenment world now in partial ruin (physically, environmentally and socially) and restore one small part to Eden-like rationality, wholeness, balance and reason in some remote place (preferably with its own vineyard). Like monks, some want to become the silent makers of a future world labouring in secret, without drawing attention to their work of conservation and continuity.

Equally, some may believe that their vocation and destiny lies in trying to bring salt and light,  in the form of the Gospel, to the 'lying' and dying world. If so, a first step would be to call the Church together to actively challenge the false premise of Rousseau and modernity:  we are not innocent babes, but what the Bible calls 'sinners', who desperately need saving grace. 

Scientists Unearth The Root of All Evil - article in the The Times 29 September, 2016 (accessible to subscribed readers only).  It reports that scientists consider that Thomas Hobbes, not Rousseau, was right about primitive life : it was "nasty, brutish and short". Scientists believe that primitive man killed his own species at the rate of 2% - similar to hunter gatherers today, apes and many other species. Wolves, which are pack predators, kill their own species, at the heightened rate of 12%. Today's murder rate in advanced societies is reported as "a hundred times less" than it would be without without the restraints of justice and police, around 0.002%.

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1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this. I believe also, from the perspective of age, that we must ask for the prayer of and also pray for the younger generations. For example, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Community of St Anselm.