Of course there are (no) revolutions in religion!

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Tue Sep 3 12:26:35 MDT 1996


Louis G writes:

>Hugh,  it is a fallacy to ontologically compare revolutions in science--the
>radical realignment of forces leading to a new and permanent change (which
>is universal) in which the way phenomena is viewed by intelligent
>beings--and the constant breaking away and re-forming of various cults,
>sects,  religious orders,  etc.,  throughout the ages.    One is
>progressive,  the other stagnant and reactionary.    Humankind does not
>possess one scintilla more of empirical religious knowledge than it did when
>our ancestors knuckle's grazed the greenwald,  in spite of a plethora of
>"discoveries" and "revelations" concerning the Almighty and his Word,  Plan,
>Kingdom,  whar-have-you. In fact,  the opposite is true.   Each increase,
>each advance in humanity's stock of scientific knowledge has served to
>undermine and make ridiculous the claims and entreaties of religious doctrine.

Louis really sees things in very linear terms. The point is that every
advance in scientific knowledge has driven religious explanations into more
abstract and sophisticated territory. Crisis in the old system has ensued,
and a revolutionary new system of gobbledygook has been elaborated, from
animist spirits of natural phenomena to the roiling pantheon of Hinduism,
>from the old Greek gods to the new ones and then to Platonism, from many
gods to one (Judaism etc), from Platonism and monotheism via the slave
rebellion and plebeian discontent to Christianity and Islam, each of these
in turn through accommodation to scientific thought and popular rebellion
to ever more subtle and abstract forms of dogma, generating eddies of
juju-worshiping primitives with each step wading forward in the idealistic
goo. The greatest religious thinkers all pushed the envelope of idealism so
far that it was a mere cough and a spit from (dialectical) materialism.
Most notably Hegel. The last of the great religious thinkers to really try
(and for a lot of trimmers) succeed in holding back the onslaught of
materialist thought was Kant, whose scientific work battered at the
firewalls of his own obscurantism.

Jesus, Louis, there a many proto-atheists among the religious avant-garde,
>from Buddha through Epicurus to Descartes, Spinoza and Hobbes. Spinoza and
Hobbes in particular are two of the greatest rational, logical and
scientifically-minded demolition men of the Modern Age.

And what about the Wycliffite mobilizations against aristocratic
arbitrariness and ecclesiastical corruption, or the Hussite communards of
Tabor? Not to mention the revolutionary impact on the feudal mode of
production produced by the Reformation?


>The point is that revolutions in science--subject always to the reasoning
>abilities of mortal men and women--must of a necessity be
>cataclysmic--having a seminal impact on the way phenomena is viewed and
>analyzed--and permanent.     In Newton's case,  it would be unthinkable to
>return to the scientific beliefs of pre-1685 after the "revolution" of
>Newton's discovery.    Hugh's religious "equivalents" can make no such
>claim.

This is not true. With every advance in science and bourgeois power,
religious expression developed new forms, and return to the old ones became
impossible. Old religious institutions sometimes survived, much as
antiquated and unscientific notions survive in the popular mind as
superstition or 'common sense'. Much, indeed, as Stalinism survives in
spite of its theoretical poverty and, now, its empirically proven practical
inadequacy.


>Claims and counter-claims of God's Will,  Purpose,  Higher Laws,
>etc.,  are regurgitated again and again in the most superficial manner,
>reflecting not new evidence or research,  just changes in the society from
>which they emerge.

Religious, and religiously coloured philosophical argument, has dealt with
more than just God. It's dealt with things like causality, nature, laws and
logic. And it has often carried the discussion forward. Again, Hegel is the
supreme example.


>They provide the historian with important clues to
>civilizations and the class structure with which they develop; they are of
>no practical value.

See, this is where I disagree. Much of our present world of thought and
even science we owe to religious thinkers or thinkers who attributed more
importance to religion than to science (such as your very own Isaac
Newton).

This is all a very dialectical business.

The days of any advances in thought or science coming from religion or
religiously inspired thinkers are now over.

The days of religiously inspired people being able to assist us in our
revolution are not.

Cheers,

Hugh




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