Home › Forums › Discuss Mythology and Western Civilization: From Plato to Tolkien › The Desacralization of Nature
- This topic has 2 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 2 years, 3 months ago by robertgwilmoth.
July 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm #21772BPetroff93Member
Dear Prof Birzer, et al.
Hello. I’m enjoying your lecture series on mythology. I have not finished it, but something keeps nagging at me. I realize you’re a Christian and I respect that, but I feel like you have glossed over the de-sacralization of the world affected by the conversion of the West to Abrahamic monotheism.
From gods, spirits, or “fairy” – to use Tolkien’s term, being present in the world we moved to a mechanistic world produced by a single architect, where all things are objects or mere “creatures” following the divine plan. It was then but a small move to banish the architect and be left with a blind clockwork universe.
With the “death” of the Judeao-Christian God – really only this particular idea of God, Judaeo-Christian ethics are not far behind. Indeed, they fall further away every day. We all deplore this last fall of our civilization into nihilism, but can we truly relegate “pagan” myths to mere “inspiring” poetry and with-hold Judaeo-Christian myths from the same judgement?
Please understand, I am genuinely interested in opening a dialog on this topic. If this isn’t the time or place to do so I will gladly readdress in your preferred venue. I posted this here because I thought others forum members might find it interesting.
Very best wishes,
Brendan PetroffJuly 5, 2016 at 8:33 pm #21773ordersParticipant
“From gods, spirits, or “fairy” – to use Tolkien’s term, being present in the world we moved to a mechanistic world produced by a single architect, where all things are objects or mere “creatures” following the divine plan. It was then but a small move to banish the architect and be left with a blind clockwork universe.”
I don’t think this was as much a result of the move to monotheism as the rise of Newtonian physics. Up until that moment, the laws of the heavens were thought to be different from the laws that governed the earth. Newton showed they were one and the same. That’s the real importance of gravity and contributed to the rise a mechanistic view of the world (and political theory). Then, under Darwin and evolution, the view of society shifted toward an evolving organism (which is where we get the “Living Constitution” that the government can ignore because society has evolved beyond its restrictions).February 11, 2021 at 3:25 pm #21774robertgwilmothParticipant
I don’t think the profaning of nature has anything to do with the rise of Abrahamic monotheism. The Bible is full of spirits, angels, and demons. It even allows for the possibility of magic. And Medieval Europe, perhaps Christianity at its peak influence, was full of people who believed in every mythical creature you can imagine, from the Sidhe and the Wee Folk to the cyclops and dragons. It was the rise of the Scientific Revolution and the so-called Enlightenment that changed that. The whole point of being “enlightened” is that you weren’t ignorant like those superstitious people in the past and didn’t believe in things like gods and monsters.
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