Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Enlightenment & Reformation

The 'Enlightenment' is sometimes portrayed as a victory over religion.. a secular great awakening where superstition was cast off, & replaced with science & reason. But that is somewhat revisionist, imo. It was the natural consequence of the growing knowledge base, that found its roots in the new christian world view.. one of order, Natural Law, & discovery. The status quo opposed advances & inquiry, as they do now, but the quest for understanding of the world had begun, & most of the early scientists in that time were deeply religious. It was the reformation that opened the door for this movement, by bringing the written word, which was critical to build the knowledge base. Scientific inquiry had a common language, which was the language of religion. Latin brought an increased exposure to the thinking & research of others, & many unknowns were explained. The knowledge of new things brought an increased desire to know more, & a systematic methodology was born.

I don't see these 'eras' as independent of each other. The reformation became the renaissance, which sparked the 'scientific revolution', which spawned the enlightenment. Many of these labels are attempts to revise history, in order to avoid any aspects that don't fit within the desired agenda that the teacher wishes to portray. The times overlap, too. Copernicus, often credited for the beginning of the scientific revolution, was a contemporary of Luther. The reformation is sometimes pegged as 'starting' with Luther's (b. 1483) 95 theses, in 1517. Copernicus was born in 1473, & made his startling discoveries & rash claims that shocked the status quo during the same time that the reformation was happening. These were connected, ideologically & temporally. IOW, the same mindset that brought scientific inquiry also brought religious freedom, & along with that, a longing for human freedom. The table was set for a feast of enlightened human thought, culminating in the American Experiment, where religious freedom, open inquiry, tolerance, & govt as servant rocked the monarchist world, & ushered in a new ideology of human freedom & open inquiry.

History is never compartmentalized, and the most fascinating parts of history are those where human thought & the 'evolution' of social mores & other concepts that directly affect the common man are awakened. It is also necessary to understand the times, & not view historical events through the assumptions & filters of modern day mindsets. There was no 'separation of church & state', or distinction between 'science' & 'religion'. The 'scientists' of the day were also the 'religious'. They were monks, bureaucrats, nobles, & usually upper class. Poor folks didn't have time for such nonsense. That was a luxury for the well to do.

And just what did the printing press have to do with all this? Well, Gutenberg invented it ~ 1440.. right before Copernicus & Luther were born. Coincidence? Not in my opinion. I see a direct cause & effect from both the printing press, the reformation, the renaissance, the scientific revolution, & just about all advances in humanity onward. It brought the knowledge base to others, who could build upon what others had learned. It is said that we can see farther, because we stand on the shoulders of giants. The printing press was the enabler of our knowledge base.. it made it possible.

So do we celebrate knowledge, science, & the holy art of inquiry? Not anymore. Now, we are moving back to the dark ages, memorizing dogma, mandating science, & crushing open inquiry. We are in a time of Anti-Science, where truth is relative, along with morality, & Govt is worshiped as the Provider & Maker of All Things. The current mindset is destroying the foundations of Western Civilization, moving us backwards, towards worship of Man, Position, & Imperial decree.

I am hopeful that the curiosity of Man overcomes the desire & ability to control, but it is a battle. It always has been, & always will be. Anti human, anti freedom, & anti science forces are constantly oppressing us & dragging us back to a stifling atmosphere, where free inquiry is squashed. One need only see the trends from China & Russia, & other collectivist experiments, where science & inquiry were almost completely shut down. Will the west follow the progressive left to a new 'cultural revolution'? Will all science & knowledge that is not 'party approved' be forbidden & destroyed? It could happen. The seeds of statist control are already sprouted & growing.

Freedom is on the line. Freedom to think. Freedom to speak. Freedom to live & do what we want. It has taken us 2000+ years to arrive at the level of freedom we have. Will we let anti freedom liars & destroyers kill what our forebears took generations to achieve?

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