I am beginning to think that maybe the most pernicious lie ever told was that man was created in Gods image. Now some of you will go crazy and damn me to Hell. Oh well, such is life.
But consider it. I am an aficionado of Darwin. Not the pop culture Darwin that folks trot out for any purpose. But the real core. The simple fact that things adapt to the world around them.
Now think about what the "made in Gods image" does to that. By being a fragment of the divine, we get to mold the world to our wishes. The world must adapt to us, not vice-versa. We see ourselves as marching toward godhood. That we can do what is needed to fuel our "progress" toward that goal. Also, and most critical, by being in the image of God, we are also able to understand the universe and the will of God.
But I am of an older style Christianity, one described by Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. This Christianity accepts the truth of original sin. It draws clear distinctions between the city of God and the city of man. It accepts that we are deeply flawed and rooted in sin. We can be forgiven for our sins, but we will always be sinners.
Once you accept that we are sinners, the world around you starts making more sense.
Now, I am throwing in a reference here. John Michael Greer writes brilliantly over at the Archdruid Report. This entry was the result of me cogitating on one of his posts. So now I will use him as an inspiration (probably against his will), and get back to the points at hand. (Also, I find it howlingly funny that the Archdruid of America is named after a Christian saint and an Archangel, I wonder if he takes any grief about that?)
So from here on in, this is a disquisition on the root of the flaws of culture in the West stemming primarily from a serious misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the bible by the protestant reformation and the subsequent spin-doctoring of dogma by all christian confessions in search of converts/tithepayers.
I begin here from John Michael reminding me of the feverish and wacked-out writings of Joachim of Fiore. I can't say that I fully agree with JMG that Joachim started the mess, but he was the first one that managed to have a Pope or two cover for him while he wrote them, so I will concede the point.
Getting back to the point, what Joachim really did is enshrine the idea that man can know the will of God. Now, lets be real clear about it, he did it by reading the bible and figuring out what was going to happen by "interpreting" the book of revelations. But he still laid the formal groundwork that said that the future and God's plan could be divined by man.
At his point we started to run with it. Thomas Bacon (a follower of Joachim) kicked off the idea of Science. William of Occam followed up. Alchemy became trendy and we thrashed about for a bit, but around four centuries later, Isaac Newton came in and delivered the knockout punch which changed over the view of the world (I always was amazed at the egotism and genius that could actually name a book "The System of the World").
While this was happening, the protestants started up. At first, Luther and Calvin ( sixteenth century) started out by going even further than the Catholics toward the idea that people are fucked. This continued for a bit, but after the peace of Westphalia, things settled down enough that the different faiths started to have to sell their wares in the same manner that folks now sell toothpaste.
Needless to say, there are a lot of folks who don't want to go to a church that tells them that they are fucked up...bad business that. So, all the churches began to soften their pitches to bring in the converts. Which leads us to where we are today, with churches that extol the wonderfulness of their flock, tells them how much God loves them, and passes the plate. This loosening of the idea of original sin loosens up the avenues of research available to the literati.
Because of this loosening, Newton and his followers are discovering some pretty cool shit. We are actually getting some traction on understanding some of the nuts and bolts of the way the world is put together. The biggie was thermodynamics with Newcomen and Kelvin and Carnot giving us the knowledge to use heat in a way that really got the party started.
We then got into the fossil fuel supplies and wow did the party really get going. A couple billion years of saving by the planet and God were went through in no time flat. But the trouble with savings accounts is that they are finite.
So, when you sit back and examine this bit of inchaote rambling, you start to see how stuff ties together. Once we got the incorrect idea that the City of God and the City of man were connected, we started down a path that led us to where we are today. But it appears to me that the path was doomed from the start. It allowed us to start the process where we used everything and every effort to build an edifice that is starting to show its cracks and poor design.
So now we are running out of the magic juice that allowed us to make the adaptations that gave us our Godlike powers. Maybe there will be a replacement. I don't think that will happen. So we will have to conserve what we have left, and start to examine our behaviors. Maybe we will notice that we are tainted with original sin and start to act accordingly.