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The Khoisan have never left the Stone Age. Neither have we.
(I’m not happy with this audio, and will replace it in due course.)
This is the first installment in an anticipated four-part series for which the working title is, “Embracing what is.”
The title for this first installment could be, “As seen on TV: The new, improved hubris.”
All it needs now is an appearance on Dr. Oz.
How can any trendy, with-it person fail to be atheist?
Of the inertial prevalence of belief, Steve Siebold says, “This wouldn’t be surprising 2,000 or even 200 years ago, but in 2014 it’s almost unbelievable.”
How disbelief became associated with sophistication, I don’t know, but it’s nothing new. One observes it in the Bloomsbury group and in Gertrude Stein’s salon. C.S. Lewis and Owen Barfield coined the term “chronological snobbery” to refer to the notion that technological advances have discredited everything our ancestors believed, most specifically, belief itself.
That was in the 1930s. A short list of technological advances that have come and gone since then may be instructive as to the difference between the transitory and the eternal. Each of these things had the unqualified endorsement of the avant garde in its time:
- Leisure suits
- Freeze-dried strawberries
- Beta videotapes
- Eight-track tapes
- Compact disks were marketed to us as being virtually indestructible.
- Antibiotics. The media of the 1960s never reported that antibiotics were completely ineffective against viruses: the common cold, the flu, chicken pox, Ebola, HIV, Hep C. And thanks to Darwinian effects, now, a mere half-century later, they are slowly but surely becoming ineffective, period.
- Finally, as of February 2015, we have the latest: anti-vaccination. It’s endorsed by left-wing journalists and right-wing politicians, so it can’t possibly be wrong. And, after all, measles is soooo 1950s.
Isaac Newton was an alchemist.
Galileo was an astrologer.
So was Kepler.
And those who glorify the Enlightenment today aren’t necessarily so enlightened, either. Let’s go out outside tonight, and you show me, by what we see in the sky, how it is the planets all orbit the sun. You can’t do it. Chances are, you can’t even locate the ecliptic.
In the 19th century, the people of the First World took for granted skills that are unknown to people of the First World today. All we need is a major failure of the power grid, and the First World will be thrown back into the Stone Age.
Spiritually and morally, we’ve never left it.
In July 2005, I was riding in a taxi, and the driver had NPR on the radio. We were listening to a retrospective of the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. The commentator reported that in that event, Serb partisans massacred 30,000 Bosnian men and boys. I said to the driver, “Did she say ‘thirty thousand?'” The driver said, “Yes.” I said, “Those people have learned nothing in a thousand years!”
Forget about belief in God. Humanity will not progress until we address what the disbelievers absolutely disbelieve in: the human spirit.
What do you think?
As a postscript (I’ve got to say this.): If you really want to find out what’s important in Steve Siebold’s world, you’ve got to visit “Steve on TV,” www.steveontv.com.
Another postscript, 2015-02-19:
Related: Science, with a side order of humility
Related: Lawyer: Teen infected by ‘superbug’ struggling to survive
Originally posted 2015-02-21.