Religion, secularism, and the Axial Age
Descent of Man Revisited
Looking at the Huffpost religion page, you have to wonder at the fate of religion.
The following is from DMR, the conclusion, with some remarks about religion and secularism.
I think that ‘religion’ and ‘secularism’ are not antipodes, but, at the same time, the endless fight for ‘tradition’ forgets that religions move from beginning to end, and that the phase of the Axial Age is yielding to a new phase whose future is unclear.
The data we have found should give religionists pause, and also a
robust context for a major upgrade. The Axial Age suggests that
religions remorph themselves at each stage of the general sequence
effect. And the Reformation shows just that. The completion of that
transformation was suggested by the avatars of that transitional
‘axis’ point, the phase of German classical philosophy, with its
intuitions of the final phase of the Reformation.
Armed with our portrait of evolution in history, Christians can
surely find a way to recast their legacy for a secular age, taking a
hint from Kant, that issues of metaphysics haunt their theologies,
and that the dialectic of theism and theism is the road to their
reconciliation in ‘spirit’, the ‘void’ or, best, the IHVH pointer so
brilliantly intuited by the great sages of Axial Israel, and lost in
the tide of vulgar theism that ended up muddling the critique of
polytheism with a Pantheon of the one god, Zeus in fresh disguises.
We can offer no safe guide to ‘theistic’ distortions of our data, but
the design sense is so strong many will demur at systems analysis.
Restrain idle speculations, and recall the warning of those who
merely pointed to a mystery, IHVH.
Christian theology is a creation, not of an Axial Age of Revelation,
but of the politicians of the later Roman Empire, and this result
has no ultimate canonical status. The symbolism of the ‘man/
god’ was correctly reduced to sense by Hegel. The mystery of the
prophet ‘Jesus’ can find a sufistic essence and history. Religion in
Reformation is eminently secular, and the attempts by scientism
to banish all religion from cultural life have missed the point that
if the concept of religion is itself recast it can be as modern as
anything in science. The legacy of political liberalism (and cousin
socialism), free will and the idea of freedom, and the questions
of ethical action, demand a social religion that is faithful to the
demands of the sacred without the preposterous anti-modernism
of traditionist phantoms. The legacy, beside Isrealite cultism, of
Indic buddhism, Chinese social philsophy, Persian zoroasrianism,
Indian Buddhism, and Greek art/religion, stand as ‘last and first’
signs of the past rediscovered in the future of a religion that can
survive the grim recycling of antiquities in the progression of