The Post Modern Mind: The Presuppositions of Pagan Temptation

(Pantheism/Panentheism)

 

The Modern Mind began in the first decade of the 20th century.  In fact, the most crucial event of the early 20th century was the emergence of Einstein as a world figure in 1919. His ideas changed our perception of the physical world and increased our mastery of it. Earlier, the impact of Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Marx and Freud cut like a surgical knife through traditional moorings in the faith and morals of Judaeo-Christian culture (see my Education in The Third Millennium; Education and Enemies of Permanent Things; and Going First Class on the Titanic; also Stanley Jaki, Chance and Reality; The Only Chaos; and The Absolute Beneath The Relative; Einstein's relativity is the most absolute of all physical).

 

The decade of the 1990's exposes the dying Enlightenment which is self-consciously an elitist movement. In contrast, Christianity entered the Roman Empire, it reached all classes, slaves and the wealthy, the uninformed, and the philosophers. Had it been merely a slave religion it would have been easily controlled. Charles Morris Cochrane, in Christianity and Classical Culture shows how Christian philosophers challenged and defeated their pagan counterparts. Christianity's broad appeal made it a dangerous enemy to the Roman Empire.

 

Resurgent Neo-Paganism: Origins of Desacralization and Demythologization of The Christian Faith:

 

In radical contrast, the Christian faith was crucially altered by reinterpretation during The Enlightenment and The Modern Mind period (up to Einstein's revolution). Louis L. Bredvold, in his The Brave New World of The Enlightenment (1961), has documented its nature and belief system (see my The Enlightenment and The Christian Faith). The three great expressions of The Enlightenment world view have been: (1)  The French Revolution and (2) The Russian Revolution (cf. the Second Russian Revolution in the last decade of the 20th century) and its world wide impact, especially through Liberation Theology; and (3) The First Scientific Revolution (Galileo-Newton). Crucial characteristics of The Enlightenment are:

 

1.    Rejection of history and the past in favor of Reason

2.    Institutions and traditions inherited from the past had to give way to Reason and Science. Religion, marriage and the family had to be supplanted by the state. The State became man's vehicle of salvation.

3.    The Christian doctrine of man as a sinner was abandoned. Man's nature was neutral, if not good and perfectible.

4.    The rule of society must be in the hands of the enlightened ones, the elite.

5.    Basic to this view, faith is that man and society must be humanistic, not Christian.

6.    Science must replace religion as the source of judgment and authority (see esp. H. G. Reventlow, The Authority of The Bible and The Rise of The Modern World (Fortress Press, E.T., 1985).

7.    Biblical view of sin and punishment are replaced with psychotherapy (see US News and World Report, Dec 10, 1990 and Mar 25, 1991)

8.    Conscription came in the French Revolution. The professional army is replaced with State created army and a hold on youth.

9.    Foreign policy is given priority over domestic or internal affairs. Hitler, Bush, Gorbachev (before and after the coup, Aug 19-21) spoke of "new World Order". The goal of politics has a world scope, not a local one.

10.  The new god is man, or Humanity, and the goal is "to be truly human" which means to be stripped of all religions and moral standard and faith, derived from Supernatural Revelation," i.e., the Desacralization and Demythologization of reality.

11.   The world's economic problem is seen as one of distribution, not production (cf. entitlement, rights and welfare).

12.   Power is centralized in the state (cf. Coup attempt in Russia's 70 hour plus coup, August 1991).

13.    Reality is seen as basically impersonal, ruling out the Christian God, Creator, Redeemer.

14.   The new established Church becomes the state school (see Bloom, Hirsch, Nash, and my three essays on Western Education).

15.   There is an increasing control over private property and a virtual confiscation by local and federal taxation.

 

         "The goal of 'The Illumination' was this:  "A natural law, a natural state, and a natural religion shone as the great ideals on the intellectual horizon, and carried away the world of the 18th century in a movement of passionate endeavor. These battles prepared the way for the rise of modern humanity" (R. Sohm, Outlines of Church History, 1887), p. 195. According to Sohm, "The great practical results of the Illumination were the destruction of the Jesuit Order, the foundation of the omnipotent authority of the state, and the idea of toleration." (p. 197 - Psalm 11.3; 127.1).

 

The end results of these influences were the Desacralization of Christianity and the demythyologization of Christ and the origins of Christianity.

 

The Post Modern Mind is a Pantheistic/Panentheistic effort (cf. Geisler's Apologetics and Pantheism) to resacralize religion. Christianity has been replaced by a pluralistic-universalistic Theology of Religions. Classical Christianity had de-demonized the cosmos.  In disallowing the popular pagan worldview, Christianity disoriented the world's inhabitants. As a matter of fact, by laying the foundations for the scientific worldview, Christianity prepared the way for a desacralized universe and, ultimately, a dehumanized one. The danger was evident:  if Christianity should at any time show doctrinal or cultural weakness, or if rationalism should gain the speculative upper hand, humans would have lost their spiritual home, and in such a case, they would have only one recourse - a result to their earlier mythical worldview (see the claims of M. Eliada, 0. Kern, H. Leisegang, H. Charles Puech, H. Corgin and G. van der Leeuw).

 

The New Age, Human Potential Movements, Resurgent Eastern Religions influence (via immigration-multiplying ethnics in USA, England, France, etc., 24,000 ethnic groups, 7,000 languages and dialectics in the world) all fuse to constitute the New Panentheistic World View of the Post Modern Mind, which has been built on the following ten presuppositions, largely derived from the influence of Quantum Mechanics on Western thought. [However, the most recent research at Los Alamos affirms 'Structure' at the foundations of physical reality. More and more high speed particle researchers are affirming the complete misunderstanding perpetrated by Diriac, Heisenberg, Bohr, Planck and New Age Physicists through their confusing physics with mathematics (see esp. Stanley Jaki, The Absolute Beneath The Relative, 1988)].

 

Ten Presuppositions for the New Age

 

The following ten revolutions in scientific thought are fundamental presuppositions of Post Modernism and New Age phenomena.

 

1.  There is no scientific certitude. Atomic physics found that the behavior of particles is considerably unpredictable. This suggests the collapse of absolute determinism even in the world of matter.

 

2.  The illusory nature of the ideal of objectivity.  In quantum mechanics the very act of observing alters the nature of the object.  "As it really happened" is an incomplete statement in the world of matter.

 

3.  The Illusory nature of definitions. It may be that the habit of proposing new terms suggests that illusion of the mind which tends to substitute vocabulary for thought, tending to believe that once we name or define something we have "got it."

 

4.  The illusory nature of the absolute truthfulness of mathematics. The absoluteness of mathematical truth was disproven by Goedel's famous theorem in 1931 but even in the 20's physicists were asking themselves this uneasy question.

 

5.  The illusory nature of "factual" truth. Heisenberg states that "there is only one kind of matter, but it can exist in different discrete stationary conditions."

 

6.  The breakdown of the mechanical concept of causality. There is simply no satisfactory way of picturing the fundamental atomic processes of nature in categories of space and tine and causality.

 

7.  The principle importance of potentialities and tendencies. Quantum physics brought the concept of potentiality back into physical science—a rediscovery, springing from new evidence, of some of the earliest Greek physical and philosophical theories.

 

8.  Not the essence of "factors" but their relationship counts. Modern physics now admits, that important factors may not have clear definitions but these factors may be clearly defined with regard to their connections.

 

9.  The principles of "classical" logic are no longer unconditional. New concepts of truths are recognized. Pascal wrote that "men fail to imagine any relation between two opposing truths and so they assume that to state one is to deny the other." After all is said, logic is human logic, our own creation.

 

10.  At the end of the Modern Age the Cartesian partition falls away. Descartes’ framework, his partition of the world into objects and subject, no longer holds.

 

One does not need to look far in the western Post Modern Mind for the influence of C. G. Jung who writes in commenting on a Taoist text ". . .in myth, we are dealing with a consciousness that, though not Western itself, is just as valid as Western thought forms." (see Plato's 7th Letter; Augustine, in Christian language, formulated this truth best "credo ut intelligam" - "I believe in order to understand", i.e. expressing the interrelationship of logos and myth. E. R. Dodd, The Greeks and The Irrational (Berkeley, University of CA Press, 1951).

 

It is not far from the truth to say, then, that pagan mythology is pantheistic (because of rejection of absolute creation), the religious belief that C. S. Lewis called "humanity's natural religion." The earliest manifestations of Greek philosophy show a pantheistic tendency, and Thales spoke of the world in which "all are gods", an indication that polytheism is a variety of pantheism and that the gods are aspects of the world, which thus becomes easier to deal with. This world perspective is once more a dominant influence in the last decade of the 20th century (see my Incarnation vs. Reincarnation; God: Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer; Christ: Incarnational Paradigm on reserve and Thomas Molner, The Pagan Temptation, Eerdmans, 1987).

 

We have abundant material, researched and published by Henri-Charles Puech, about the spiritual developments in the last centuries of the empire, about Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Syrian, and other influences on Gnosticism and Manichaeism. Was there a common ideology between Upanishadic and Greek wisdom? If so, how did Christianity transcend the entrapment of their pantheistic/polytheistic world view? This issue is still a central challenge to the Gospel.

 

Three Conflicting Perspectives: Greek, Brahmanic, and Christian - One last word about the considerable difference between the three perspectives. The Brahmanic sage, because he has overcome the individuating principle, is more thoroughly immersed in the world-all than his rationalist Greek counterpart. The Upanishads teach that the fall of the souls (particles of a totality) into bodies is a cosmic rupture and a state of misery for the separated souls, because in the body they become limited and divided into individuals, fragments of the whole (contra the biblical Imago Dei). Individuals say, "I am such and such, this thing is mine." They distinguish themselves and become part of a network of separate existences.

 

This aspiration of these unfortunate souls (cf. Hegel's "misery of consciousness" and Marxist concept of 'alienation'. The soul was born elsewhere - 'allogenes' - and is now in exile from its real home) is to be reabsorbed in the world-all in order to surmount the evil of personal existence.  In the Brahmanic and Buddhist Orient, this re-absorption is achieved through initiation into the secret doctrine, reserved for the elite, and through the ascetic method of purification: detachment from the senses, from worldly involvement, and even from intellectual stimulation. The sages look inside themselves in order to become one with the Absolute but in the process they give up the notions of elementary morality, since they are no longer interested in other people and the world around them. They are indeed "beyond good and evil"; absorption in the absolute cancels and replaces all human preoccupations.

 

Claude Tresmontant compares with brilliant clarity the teaching of the Upanishads and Christianity. He writes that the Christian tradition establishes a personal and moral relation between the transcendent Absolute and the human being, whereas the Upanishads prompt the sage to overcome the illusion of personal existence as well as the ethical demands that follow from it. The world is an illusion, and the illusion itself is the result of a fall from the Absolute (absolute nothingness, for the Oriental sage; the One, for Plotinus and other Greeks) into a veiled existence. (La metaphysique du Christianisme et la Naissance de la philosophie Chretienne: Problemes de la Creation et de 1'anthropologie des origines, a saint Augustin (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1961), p. 265.

 

For the pagans, the burden of personhood is difficult to carry since in the entire universe only the sage is endowed with thinking, and thinking too is a symptom of the fallen, individual state. In the Hebrew and Christian religions, God is the only active thinker; He conceives and plans creation, witnesses and admonishes, judges and pardons. But in the pagan systems the "spirit" is not personal; it is not an anthropomorphic god. Its characteristic qualifications, from the Brahmans to Plotinus, is that it is One. Thus the spirit does not think; it merely is. Thought, reflection, and discursive reason entered the world through humanity and are marked with the seal of sin, evil, and the fall. The products of thought are mere illusion, and they encumber the universe, which aspires to cairn. The ideal of the sage in this evil world is contemplation, which is not active reflection or reasoned thought but a state of tranquility in which humans let themselves be suffused by the vanity of things and of being - and in the last stages, by nothingness (cf. this conclusion is the opposite of Christian mysticism because the latter stimulates positive actions and charity toward others; note the demise of thought, logic, and language in New Age Phenomena. Marilyn Ferguson's Aquarian Conspiracy rejects logic, thought, language, 'left hemisphere of the brain' as Western. But her mind must 'use' the three instruments which she denounces.)

 

The Greeks acknowledge consistency in nature, but failed to rationally combine consistency in the universe with contingency of a created order. As Stanley Jaki writes: "The Greeks were profoundly aware of the rationality of nature and of the measure in which consistency gives rationality to reasoning. They were the first to construct formal ways to the ultimate in being, and Aristotle even perceived something of that aspect of the contingency of things which was implied in the fact that not all that was possible did in fact exist." (The Road to Science and Ways to God (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 320.) The decade of the 1990's is searching for certitude without recognizing that the Pagan Revival precludes rational resolution of the search.

 

Neo-Paganism and The Post Modern Mind: Hermeneutics of Suspicion (see Molnar's brilliant work, The Pagan Temptation)

 

The new Post Modern scholarly interest is threefold:

 

1.  Channeled through the study of myth (cf. J. Campbell)

2.  Channeled through science, esp. biology and physics

3.  Channeled through Modern literature (cf. From Structuralism to Derrida's Deconstructionism).

 

It would be a serious error to underestimate the Neopagan impact on our civilization, or to see it confined to the New Light movement in France and USA. Post Modern scholarship has achieved rehabilitation of 'mythical thinking' and thus the idea of a Common core of religiosity through the ages, finds in the god figure the representative of a basic human need (cf. central issue in view of the greatest non-event of the 19/20th century, the demise of Religion from human consciousness and culture. Prophets of Suspicion: Freud, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Campbell, Eliade, et. al.).

 

Felt Needs in a World of Real Need: The Church in a Designer World. This need seems to be partly instinctual, partly derived from the symbolization of experience, and partly the natural product of basic human drives and impulses. Yet the three disciplines - Mythology, Science, and Literature [see esp. De Benoist, "La religion de 'Europe"; the classical pantheism of Giordano Bruno, a believer in the immanent universe animated by the world-soul, claimed that he would be a capitano in the new civilization. Note also Hegel's claim that he actively promoted the maturation of the world-spirit. Eric Voegelin calls Hegel a "sorcerer" in "On Hegel, A Study in Sorcery" Studium Generale 24 (1971):335-68; while Frances A. Yates calls Bruno a "magician") (exceptions are Greene, Lewis, Toelkien, et. al.)] have often deliberately ignored the reality of The Judaeo-Christian God as a transcendent being who, through revelation, compels human attention. Such an approach would obviously not find a place in positivistic-scientific investigation. Nonetheless, it is clear that we are dealing with new methods and new conclusions in these fields.

 

In the scholarship of the 19th Century there was no room for “pagans”.  Scholars and writers considered the question of religion and God as of no further interest since they were settled or would soon be settled by science. By the last half of the 20th century we have witnessed a notable transformation of the intellectual climate. Erudition has so uncovered the subject that interest in paganism has grown to respectable proportions and with it interest in Neopaganism as well. It is crucial that we recognize that Neo Paganism is a critique of biblical Monotheism (see Hans Kung, Does God Exist?; and Fabro, God in Exile). Note:

 

1.  Myth as Model: Neopaganism in Anthropology and Psychology (see my Christian Faith and Development of The Social Sciences; Critique of Neopagan Psychological Theories: Freud, Adler, et. al.; Hermeneutics of Structuralism and Deconstructionism; M. Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (NY: Sheed and Ward, 1958); his Shamanism; C. Levi Strauss, Structural Anthropology; L. Binswanger, Discours Parcorirs et Freud (Paris, 1970); C. G. Jung, Psychology and Religion (New Haven: Yale, 1938); Rene Girard, Des choses cachees depuis JLa foundation eta monde (Paris, 1978);

 

2.  Building A New Future: Neopaganism in Sociology and Biology ‘Sociobiology’.  Biologists hope to build a new civilization along neopagan lines by helping to create a new, better planned human kind. The biologists, Konrad Lorenz, E. 0. Wilson, Robert Ardrey, Irenaeus Eibl Eibesfeldt are shaping a new "animal sociology/biology" which proposes investigations toward a new kind of materialist reductionism (cf. La Mettrie, Skinner, etal, also emphasized continuity of animal and human via their naturalistic reductionisms). "For us there remains the sole possibility, in thinking and in poetry, of preparing a readiness for the appearance of God or for the absence of God in decline" (Heidegger from interview, Sept 23, 1976, the year he died.) Whether we follow Eiiade, Jung or Heidegger, we see in their thought a myth, formulated in one way or another, that prepares for a new, a post-Christian cycle and a new salvation for post-Christian humanity (contra the massive ingathering of Christians in China, Africa, Eastern Europe, the collapse of Communism, including the August 19-21 coup attempt in Russia).

 

3.  Renaissance of Pagan Worldview in The Hard Sciences:

            "Only that which evolves remains related to me."  (Nietzsche's aphorism) Neopagan humanity is not permitted to fall back, to be purposeless, sentimental, nostalgic, happy or sad since the law of the universe commands only firm advance. Humanity thus lives out only one-half of history: from origin to zenith. Decadence is the merited punishment of the other half. Sociobiology is not the only scientific discipline to show the influence of neopaganism. Raymond Ruyer expresses a somewhat abstruse and rarified version of neopagan philosophy in his La Gnose de Princeton (Paris: Fayard, 1974) that describes the new quasi systematic wisdom formulated by a group of scientists, many of them physicists, most heavily represented at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Studies there. Ruyer reminds his readers that the theories presented closely resemble Lucretius' De Rerum Natura and the classical Stoic pantheistic treatises, and that they seem to be addressed to the "eternal Memmius", the Roman official for whom Lucretius had written his work in order to strengthen him in the face of inevitable death and annihilation. Ruyer mentions the influence of visiting Japanese and Chinese scientists on their colleagues at Princeton. In a revealing passage, he claims that "the Princeton Gnostics are like the sages of the Hellenistic period, witnesses of the dissolution of the old city states into empires with uncertain outlines." (La Gnose de Princeton, p. 9).

 

The wisdom in Ruyer’s work is as falsely humble as the old Roman's poem. Lucretius denied, simply by ignoring them, good and evil, the meaning of actions, beauty, freedom and altruism. If everything is determined from all eternity and proceeds in the same way without end, then the only sensible attitude is to look on, pass, and withdraw.  The Gnostics of Princeton, unlike Lucretius, do not deny the  existence of the spirit; in fact, they attribute a consciousness to the universe. They believe in a vague intellectual pantheism, a universal linkage of all to everything. But in this universe, which is self-created, everything exists by necessity; everything is part of a well-functioning and self-organizing mechanism (see McKay's critique of the concept of "self-organizing mechanism" and critique of Monad's Chance In A World of Necessity). God is the totality of the 'os', assert the Princeton associates, but without the imaginativeness of Giordano Bruno and the subtlety of Nicholas of Cusa.

 

They see religion as an ideological agitation, engendering hardly anything but periodic mass-murder and catastrophe. The only "reasonable attitude" to the world is to ignore this turbulence, because then religion will slowly return to their natural state -“a universal paganism”- a pantheistic world view. The Princeton Gnostics lay the foundation of this steady-state neopaganism in the spirit of Epicurus by working out his physical postulates. As Ruyer notes, the neo-Gnostics are more monks than ideologies; but in this context monk means 'sages,' as Ruyer himself acknowledges when he adds that they intend this endeavor - a physical theory with its 'religious' derivative to suggest that they are like the sages of the schools of antiquity in its decline, the Epicurean and the Stoic (Ruyer, pp. 9-13).

 

Like the Stoics and the Hindus, contemporary physicists express themselves with ambiguity when the ultimate questions about 'matter and spirit' arise. Christianity seemed to have settled the issue and, with a very different conclusion, but so did modern materialism. The works of the modern physicists Planck, Einstein, de Broglie, Heisenberg, and Bohr, among others, has cast increasing doubt on the certainties of materialism; the new physics of space and subatomic material has prompted science to "abandon its clear distinctions”: first between (1) matter and energy, then between (2) matter and consciousness, and finally, at least at the present stage, between (3) matter and spirit (a la Panentheism). These three categories were the premise and conclusion of the science colloquium at Cordoba, Spain, as long ago as October 1979. The light that colloquium shed on the ideology of modern science: psychology, Neurophysiology, nuclear physics, astrophysics, and other specialties. Oriental mysticism had representatives at Cordoba.  Its indeterminateness, based on Hindu and Buddhist materialist ontology, itself dissolved in the void, suggests to these scientists the idea that a common substance can be found for consciousness and science, a form of monism. Eastern mysticism, from Zoroasterianism to Taoism, penetrates today into Western intellectual and scientific circles much as occultism from the Middle East conquered humanist minds during the Renaissance (see Science et conscience; Les Actes du Collogue de Cordoba (Paris: Stock, 1980); note that much earlier E. Mach became a Buddhist; Schroedinger became a Hindu while grappling with the same issues in theoretical physics). The world views of both religions entail panentheism.

 

As early as 1960, Stephane Lupasco had spoken of subatomic particles as non-material 'energy events' and posited that the universe can be understood only if we grant if a "fundamental psychic dimension." (Les Trois matieres (Paris: Juillard, 1960), p. 105. Fritz Capra had discussed a "physical taoism" manifest in "universal interconnectedness," the last word about the world-all beyond which there is nothing but "metaphysical anguish" (see his Tao of Physics, 1975; and The Turning Point, 1982). Earlier, Maurice Olivier had already made a return to Vedic literature and its non distinction of objects. He defined reality as the fusion of past, present, and future, the vision one would have from a state of cosmic consciousness (Physique moderne et realite' (Paris: Editiones du cedre, 1962).

 

This neopagan 'Western Hinduism and Neo-Stoicism' has clearly penetrated the postulates of contemporary physics, from which they are challenging and interacting with chemistry, biology, and psychology. But "there is not one building block of the so-called living matter which would not be listed on The Periodic Table of the elements" (Lupasco, Les Trois Matieres, p. 101). The presupposition that everything is in fusion with everything else dissolves both the categorically presented scientific conclusions and the truth claims of Christianity. Thus a neopagan worldview springs into focus, based on the decomposition of time, space, logic, matter, spirit, and consciousness. A tabula rasa is offered on which a new civilization may sow new seeds. This is the essence of The Post Modern Mind (see D. Allen, Christian Belief in a Post Modern Mind (Louisville: Westminster, 1989); and my Idolatrous Absolutes: From Absolute God to Absolute Nothingness).

 

4.  Neopaganism in Literature: Derrida’s Deconstructionism - In what sense can one speak of modern writers as pagan and sage? The Post Modern Mind flounders on the rocks of philosophical meaningless, which leads to moral meaningless (see my Relativism: Cultural and Conceptual; Nihilism; and Molnar's Pagan Temptation), and thence easily to the aesthetic pose, as if art were the last resort in an otherwise objectless world, not of course the great constructive art of Aeschylus, Dante, Shakespeare, or Balzac, which takes the transcendent and contingent reality of the world as its material, but rather the literature that shrinks to focus on the subjective world of the self, dark and pessimistic and falsely illuminated by heroic resistance to the barbarians' assault. This is the gratuitous gesture performed in a religious, political, and social vacuum, as pure self-affirmation and demonstration of self-affirmation and demonstration of self-surpassing. Such literature thrives on pessimism and decadence because it must prove its values and viability by placing its narrative at the precise moment when a historical epoch (a cycle, in the words of the neopagan) goes under and the dawn of the next- becomes perceptible. The neopagan writer-sage is Zarathustra's man with a lamp, trying to convey the message to uncomprehending bystanders, but arriving too early to profit from it himself. The promised land is perceptible only to the writer-sage, who is aware that he will never cross over to the new land and must remain its herald in the old outside the elite, the masses of people will stagnate as phantoms in a dark land; they are the dark foil for the new human who is a sage, hero, and knight in one person. This neopagan rightist literature is easily identified, just as classical Marxist literature possesses its unmistakable characteristics.

 

In Magister Ludi; The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse describes an elite in possession of an esoteric pattern, not recognizable by ordinary mortals, but serving as identification for the initiated. The same irrational-gnostic meaninglessness flows through Raymond Abellio's La Fosse de Babel, the Western world, sunk into decadence, can be saved only by an odd elite assembled of fascists, communists, Christian reformers, and technocrats. They will eliminate the unfit and work for a "sacerdotal communism" that transcends the old religions and old politics. The central organization is known as the "absolute structure," and its objective is the promotion not merely of a "superior destiny" for the steely remnant but also of a kind of sacred knowledge of all things (gnosis) (La Fosse de Babel (Paris: Gallimard, 1962); also his La Structure absolute (Paris: Gallimard, 1965).

 

The object of Dominique de Roux's Fifth Empire is not to diagnose the sickness of. Western decadence - the verdict about its irreversible course has been on record for sometime - but to dissect the corpse of the Occident, "between the Soviet ice-age and the American infection . . . [between] the Eurocommunist mediocrity and the adjection of Atlanticism. In Angola, de Roux assumed that he was watching "the end of history." "The sooner the disaster, the nearer the fifth empire. It is our hope, also the wound we bear in our side."

 

Jean Raspails’ Camp of The Saints was a bestseller in both Europe and the USA (Scribners, 1975). He is a horrified yet fascinated witness to the subhuman flood as it engulfs the few remaining outposts of civilization. The plot runs through a whole range of reactions, from attempted resistance to useless gestures and aesthetic posturing. The reading finally has no chance between the teeming mass of rotting flesh and the knights of total despairs (cf. cultural and personal despair are the womb of suicide - Derek Humphry, Final Exit (Hemlock Society); the eastern ontological pantheism in H. Komaki, Four Steps to Absolute Peace, vol 8, American Komaki Peace Foundation; 1960's Death and Dying Phenomena).

 

Heidegger's Sein zum Tode: Personal and Cultural Death - This dark despair has been extending its deadly influence from Heidegger's "being toward death" (Sein zum Tode) and that annihilation leads to Nirvana and eventually to a renewal with a different ontological structure. This utopianism has no legitimating evidence in either the world of science or aesthetics (literature, music). What remains is the aesthetic element, the sole and fragile "meaning" in a meaningless world. Surely this entails the death of meaning to life and all human action (vs will to meaning).

 

Roots of Disintegration: The neopagan temptation did not arise in a cultural vacuum. Only the "magic from beyond the dawn of time" can transform tragedy into triumph. Louis Panwel's The Morning of The Magicians, speaks of "an imminent mutation in humanity," that is beings biologically and intellectually ahead of us on the evolutionary scale (p. 28) but there is not the slightest evidential hint of extraterrestrials. When man rejects the incarnation of the creator redeemer God, he insists on creating more Utopian myths concerning Homo Viatar. But what journey? Where? How do we get there? Throughout neo pagan literature (La Gnose de Princeton; and The Morning of The Magicians) there runs the theme of radical discontent with the present human condition and the related theme of radical change, to be achieved by utilizing the "nine-tenth of the brain still lying fallow," by new drug-induced perceptions, by the secret society of the mutants who hide in our midst fearing ridicule and persecution. This same intellectual and cultural optimism runs through Pico della Mirandola's Oration on The Dignity of Man (1487), the prelude to his 900 theses, in which he planned the pantheistic synthesis of religion and the occult doctrines: "Oh fathers, let us be driven by those Socratic frenzies which lift us to such an ecstasy that our intellects and our very selves are united to God. And we shall be moved by them in this way if previously we have done all that lies in us to do. . .at last, smitten by the ineffable love. . .and borne outside ourselves. . .we shall be no longer ourselves, but the very one who made us." (Mirandola's pantheistic, Oration On The Dignity of Man (Chicago: Gateway, E.T., 1956), pp. 26f.)

 

Neopagan authors are united both in the conviction that civilization, humanity, and the earth have reached an impasse and in the belief that the search for a new civilization and a new cycle of human history has already begun. The Post Modern Mind is also in consensus concerning a second theme - cosmic pessimism. The plague of human despair runs deep throughout Nietzsche, the presuppositions of Jungian therapy (see my critique of Jungian Hermeneutics) the scientific optimism of Wilson's Sociobiology, the somber mood of de Roux, Raspail and the postmodern Gnosticism of the Princeton physicists and those of the Cordoba colloquium, and other new age scientists.

 

The Post Modern Hind and Resurgent Occult:  (see my Challenge and Critique of The New Age Phenomena) This civilization is in a process of decay but in this cosmic collapse there is the imprint of progress. Yet this forward thrust, this project, resembles strangely a return (Restoration) to ancient pagan pantheism, elements from both Greek and Hindu worldviews.

 

Lost-Hope - -Last Word: Costa de Beauregard, one of the prominent participants in the Cordoba colloquium, puts his rejecting "politics, morals, wants to explore the road to cosmic mysticism is the last God's last Word - the Gospel heaven and earth (John 1.1-18 See H. Smith, Beyond The Post Allen, Christian Belief In American Mind.

 

resignation and hope in a "spiritual mutation." After the Christian religion and Western civilization," he Calcutta (Science et conscience, pp. 57-77). Oriental word of postmodern humanity. But man's last word is not of the crucified, risen, reigning, and coming Lord of Colossians 1.17; Ephesians 1.10; and Romans 12.1,2). See H. Smith, Beyond the Post Modern Mind; H. Schlossberg, Idols For Destruction; D. Allen, Christian Belief in a Post Modern World; and Alan Bloom, The Closing of The American Mind.  

 

 

Dr. James Strauss

 Theology and Philosophy