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  Chapter 1

INVENTORS OF CULTURE

Book report on "The Day the Universe Changed"

 

Human culture is extremely complex, possibly rivaling the brain itself. A good analogy of culture inventing itself was on a TV show called "Ghost Hunters", where they made a makeshift ouija board from a table and used an inverted shot glass for a planchette. Everyone in the group put his finger on the glass, and it mysteriously began to move. All the essentials of culture were present. They were open-minded to each other’s thoughts and ideas no matter how preposterous. The glass moved across the table on its own power with everyone’s finger on it, and they attributed it to a spirit! Similarly, culture seems to have spirit-like qualities to it. No one particularly knows where it is going and what it will do next, yet people are out there testing it to see which direction it may go. If they can get it to move, they stand to make a lot of money, and money is the strongest incentive in cultural change. Most of the greatest cultural changes have been the ones that have made our lives more convenient, and the vast majority of those changes have resulted from the gadgets we have invented.

 

The best way to understand how man invents his own cultural is to take a trip through history and note the events that ushered us through its innumerous transitions to the contemporary status of today. Using ancient Egypt’s knowledge of mathematics (1000 B.C.) and the Babylonian’s understanding of the stars (1750 B.C.), it becomes evident that all great empires emerge from the void of ignorance after developing a curiosity for astronomy. After these great empires were toppled and their knowledge lost, the world took a mysterious plunge into the dark ages. One of the first to walk from the darkness was Thales of Miletus in the sixth century BC, a citizen of Ionia credited with the invention of philosophy. Our world that emerged from his small seed is unique to all other civilizations, and perhaps other empires will emerge after us who will be completely unique.

 

The world before Thales never asked questions about the universe. Earth was a very mysterious place; what they didn’t understand they attributed to God and mysticism. People simply looked to their priests and spiritual leaders for understanding. One of Thales’ pupils, Anaximander, brought forth the argument that the universe was a system of opposites: hot and cold, wet and dry, water and fire, the Chinese’ yin and yang concept. He determined that there were four elements that composed matter: earth, water, fire and air. He may have been wrong about his fundamentals, but these were some of the first thoughts in recorded history that helped form the basis of western civilization. Before this, religion was the only available perspective of the time, which meant that these intellectual structures were not established in the cultural mindset; hence, people were simply unable to think along these terms.

 

Much later in the early 400’s AD, during the fall of Rome and the next impending dark ages, the greatest influence on human consciousness at the time was Plato, who taught that nothing was real except the spiritual realm and that anything grasped with the five senses could not be trusted as authentic. This philosophy was very popular with Christians (and still is to this day), because it helped them deal with their misery and the persecution of the time. It gave them hope for eternity and sealed in their minds that government was ruled by evil. Most religions are rooted in Plutonian philosophy and don’t even know it. That is not to say they are wrong, but that we are mostly unaware of the origins of our own beliefs. Perhaps if someone else had influenced our culture, we would be thinking differently about ourselves and be living in a completely different world. Hence, the more we know about the origins of our worldviews, the better we understand ourselves. There is no greater advise than the two words of the Greek geographer and historian shortly before Plato in the second century AD, Pausanias, who wrote in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Know theself.”

 

In other words, previous knowledge from past generations is critical to the advancement of knowledge for the next generation. As knowledge increased, the way people lived and the way they thought about the world changed with it. In the early 1100s manuscripts from newly conquered Spain came pouring into the hands of European translators, who deciphered the ancient languages and made their science immediately available, but what made this new knowledge so accessible was the philosophy of Aristotle’s logic of argument that came with it. His deductive reasoning (syllogism) became the bedrock upon which all scientific knowledge would be built for the next two thousand years. Science soon gained equal status with Christian theology, which was not popular with the religious leaders of the time, because it competed with their religion for the minds of the people. The following logical expressions are examples of Aristotle’s contribution:

 

-          All mammals milk their young. Rabbits are mammals. Rabbits milk their young.

-          Geology studies rocks. Granite is a rock. Geology studies granite.

-          Sun, moon and stars move across the sky. The earth is standing still. The Sun, moon and stars revolve around the earth.

 

Aristotle’s inductive and deductive reasoning may seem simple to us, but it was a brand new way of thinking in his time. The pre-Aristotle mindset was handed down to communities by religious thinkers, who saw the world as mysterious and unknowable, but the new science was changing all that. The Christians had Plato and the world had Aristotle. Through the advancement of knowledge universities were born. In 1210 religion banned the teaching of Aristotle in Paris, which did nothing to stop eager minds from pursuing their fascination with the emerging sciences of physics and chemistry. Knowledge had become a runaway freight train to those who were beginning to see the world in a whole new light, and they concurrently saw the church as a conspiracy against scientific truth.

 

Nearly every era had its empire, and every empire had its knowledge. Each civilization had to work with (and around) the same laws of nature that are common to every age, yet no two kingdoms are the same. Civilizations develop in proportion to their knowledge as they seek to describe a common universe; therefore, it is the interpretation of knowledge that makes each empire unique.

 

Prior to the fifteenth century books were hand written, very valuable and proportionately rare. Throughout all time knowledge was passed orally, which meant people had to memorize everything, but in 1455, Johannes Gutenberg changed all that with his press. Once knowledge could be reproduced books became common, and after that time science accelerated at a blinding pace. For the first time in recorded history knowledge could be documented, mass produced and dispersed, studied by other minds, then supplemented through further research to repeat the process in an upward spiral with no end in sight.

 

All these advancements had their roots in 360 B.C. with Aristotle, who not only brought logic to the table, but also introduced the world to an alternate view of the universe. Aristotle’s philosophy became the lattice structure upon which all sciences would enmesh their many disciplines for a thousand years, until science itself caught up with some of his ideas that grew increasingly inconsistent with the emerging facts. Eventually, confidence in Aristotle became a stumbling block to further advancement. The scientific community met the discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo with derision because it contradicted Aristotle’s vision of the universe. So astronomy opposed both science and religion, which kept the truth about the stars in the dark.

 

Eventually, every worldview wears out as knowledge increases and perspectives change to accommodate the growing compilation of facts. As great a contribution that Aristotle made in the world of science, his views finally had to be replaced by the teachings of Galileo, the man with a telescope, by Kepler, the founder of modern astronomy, and by Copernicus, who in 1514 released a paper titled "The Little Commentary" that explained why he could not accept Claudius Ptolemy’s belief that there were eight crystalline spheres etched in the vastness of space upon which the heavenly bodies would ride as they orbited the central and static earth once a day. Rather, he presented a theory of a solar system in which the planets, including the earth, revolved around the sun, which was not popular with the church, because it contradicted their "infallible" wisdom. This made religious authority somewhat removed from the new direction of society toward scientific revelation. After all, who among men were most likely to receive and understand wisdom than those who dedicated their lives to God? Nevertheless, their religious seat and influence were bypassed and replaced by an advancing science that was explaining things about the world that people have been observing for centuries, and they were inventing things that fundamentally changed the way people lived.

 

At the invention of the printing press, people could hold the Bible in their hands and read for themselves that their church leaders were pulling the wool over their eyes. This new evidence that conflicted with church doctrine was devastating to the people’s confidence in religious authority. The truth about the sun finally emerged from the dark ages and shone on the world, which basked in a new age of enlightenment. The constraint against artistic flair and inventiveness was slowly removed as the Renaissance period began in Florence Italy and swept across Europe, marking the transition from medieval to modern times.

 

God chose not to use the church to reveal the many secrets of His creation, since their minds were hardened not only to scientific insights, but even to spiritual truth. Religious authority had (and still has) a bad habit of using their ministry against the people. They declared themselves essential for salvation and then made the people pay exorbitant taxes under such schemes as absolution, penance and tithing. Imagine how they would have used scientific knowledge to enslave the people had they been the ones discovering it? They would have invented horrific heresies about their infallibility to the point of declaring themselves equal with God (they had already somewhat done that with the office of the pope). Through their enraged jealousy, Galileo, because of his publishing, was put under house arrest until he died in 1642, and his publications were placed in the index of prohibited books until 1835. “No more such hypotheses will be allowed in Italy or elsewhere under Rome’s authority (Burke, Page 149).”

 

Copernicus did not solve the problem of why an object that is hurled straight into the air does not come down slightly west of its origin because of the rotating earth. He left that answer to another man who would come almost two hundred years later, Sir Isaac Newton (1685), who created a way of explaining the orbits of the solar system. His calculus also has applications to just about everything else that moves and has a definite shape.

 

Rene Descartes from Holland, a philosopher of the scientific method, after publishing his book, The Discourse on Method in 1637, opposed the need for church approval on their scientific discoveries, strongly suggesting that they put such reputable knowledge in the hands of those who would actually be using it. This formally began the breaking away of science from religion as it is today. Note, however, that it took a full five hundred years for the scientific community to be ready for such a move away from an institution that people once so enduringly embraced. Descartes’ book was the seed that influenced society to question everything, to become freethinkers, to assume nothing. Just because the “facts” came from an authoritative figure meant nothing, but to critique the interpretations, perceptions and observations of others to determine whether they integrate nicely into the ever-accumulating body of knowledge was the new thinking. His influence has benefited science tremendously and is still very strong within American culture to this day.

 

Prior to his philosophies, society generally agreed with the contemporary religious worldview, which changed very little over the generations, suggesting that people generally thought the same about everything, causing their neighbors to have a lot more in common with each other than we do in today’s society. The information age has made it nearly impossible for people to relate to each other anymore, since almost no one is being influenced by the same ideas, but from a near infinite array of subcultures, each one believing its own set of facts, causing people to become worlds apart from each other. Before Descartes, you could walk down the street and wave to your neighbor; but after adopting Descartes thought process, society as a whole slowly became skeptical of other peoples’ views, which isolated people from each other. Descartes’ contribution to western culture was nothing less than a formula for competitiveness of mind. The societal pendulum had swung from one extreme of being naive and gullible, assuming whatever the priests said was the indisputable truth (since they claimed to get all their inspiration and revelation directly from God) to being practically incapable of agreeing with anybody about anything. Then came John Locke (1683), a political, intellectual dignitary, who:

 

Believed that men were fundamentally driven by self-interest and that to enable them to pursue it would lay the ‘foundation of all liberty’. He called the ‘natural state’ that of living together in the pursuit of happiness and banding together according to reason so as to ensure the highest personal and community interest. (Burke, Page 176).

 

Within one statement he set the groundwork for Capitalism. We took one paragraph from all the thousands of written pages and built cities around it with millions of people all selfishly pursuing their own dreams of happiness. John Locke’s influence on the world provided a way for people to become wealthier, but they also became more selfish and competitive. Society listened to his economic theory because the notion of self-interest was appealing to human nature. The collective contribution of these two men, Rene Descartes and John Locke, resulted in a robust economic philosophy, where people physically moved closer together through a need for each other’s services and financial input (cities began to emerge), while they simultaneously moved further apart in heart (people became less important to each other on a personal level). It was the start of our contemporary isolationist society.

 

Between the 17th and 19th centuries a myriad of ideas and theories about nearly everything were generated, math and science made tremendous advancements, which led to inventions that profoundly changed the way people lived and worked. Namely, James Watts’ steam engine brought about the industrial revolution in the mid 1700s, transforming civilization from rural farm living to a city dwelling people almost over night. Human population once fluctuated with the climate, but with new methods of agriculture, farmers were able to produce crops more reliably and with greater abundance, coupled with the advancements in medicine, particularly with the discovery of the germ by Joseph Lister in 1865, resulted in the population explosion of the 20th century. These along with countless other pivotal discoveries completely refashioned the way people lived and viewed the world, as through a microscope at tiny organisms that had caused millions to die from the Black Death in the 14th century and cholera in their own generation. People had become ‘sophisticated;’ they were becoming like gods; they were ready now for an alternate view of the origins of life and the universe. This is when Charles Darwin walked on stage.

 

Another man surfaced at the same time just when Germany was seeking its identity, Ernest Haeckel, during a time of turmoil in the mid 1800s, whose teaching harmonized with Darwin’s. Haeckel talked about an Absolute Idea that things went from less to more perfect, which was Darwin’s conclusion in his famous book Origin of the Species. Haeckel’s tunnel vision saw great men coming only from Germany by evidence of some of its notables: Theodoric, Charlemagne, Barbarossa, Luther and Frederick the Great, as though greatness could not be found in any other ethnic group. Haeckel’s goal was to possess absolute truth, which united man with nature and the cosmos. Darwin provided a way of making this possible, showing that man was a part of nature, which was supported by an influx of research indicating that all creatures were made from the same stuff. Haeckel’s use of Darwinism united trends already developing in Germany of racism, imperialism, nationalism, and anti-semitism. James Burke comments:

 

In 1862 Haeckel began lecturing on Darwin all over Germany. According to Haeckel, Darwin’s theory represented no less than a new cosmic philosophy… In 1860 he saw a vision of a ‘single people of brothers’, a super-race. Darwin showed him how this might be achieved. Haeckel used Origin [of the Species] as a basis for his new philosophy.  (Burke [1995], Page 262).

 

Haeckel believed the Germans were superior to any other people and to mix their blood line with other nations was equivalent to mixing sheep with goats; they had a duty to avoid mongrelizing their Aryan speaking race. “Freedom, for Haeckel, meant submission to the authority of the group, which would enhance the opportunities for survival.” In 1899 Haeckel issued his major philosophical statement in Weltsratel (The Riddle of the Universe). It sold a half million copies by 1933. Later, Alexander Ploetz advocated the construction of selective breeding camps, where they intended to create the perfect race through Mendelian genetics. Burke continues:

 

After 1918 Fritsch was the ideological guide of a youth movement named, after the Aryan deity, Artamarzen. Charter members of the movement included Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess. Aloysius Unold, vice-president of the Monists, said: ‘Brutal reality had awakened us from the petty dreams of good, free, equal and happy people.’ A new national party would unite the community. It would function as a living example of [Herbert Spencer’s] survival of the fittest… Underpinned by Darwin’s theory of evolution, Nazism was born. (Burke [1995], Page 266).

 

Haeckel taught a monistic philosophy in which he believed man was one with the animals and had no soul. According to him what he understood with his five senses is all there was to life. Since man is just another animal, he must be ruled by the same laws of competition as in nature and fight for his life or perish. He viewed himself as merely a collection of well-organized atoms and molecules. Under that philosophy mass genocide is not that horrific of an act. For example, if the super-race of his dreams were to dispose of any inferior beings, it would merely be a matter of rearranging the substance of their bodies from a solid/liquid state to a gas in their blast furnaces at Auschwitz and other concentration camps around Europe. Perhaps the church had a point about suppressing the knowledge of science, though it is not inherently evil, if it leads to this and empowers people to invent weapons of malevolence far worse than throwing rocks and spears, then perhaps man was better off in the dark ages.

 

The world fought against a madman during WWII, which took Darwin’s theory of natural selection to its logical conclusion and attempted to create a super-race by controlling the gene pool through mass genocide of those he considered inferior. Hitler, in fact Germany, was envious of the Jews for their business savvy. They were afraid the Jews would build their corporate empires and dominate the world with their economic prowess, so Germany sought to eliminate what they perceived a threat to their national security. They claimed to be a super race that no other nationality could match. The Jews made that difficult to believe, so they vilified them and lowered their status in society to that of a dog, and then unceremoniously eliminated them from the earth. With their superior intellect as the self-proclaimed super race they reasoned they should exterminate those who were making them look inferior. Why didn’t their superior knowledge lead them to superior wisdom to become the greatest servants of all mankind? Knowledge without wisdom is like a loaded gun in the hand of a fool!

 

In contrast to Hitler’s hearty approval of Ernest Haeckel’s survival of the fittest ideas, which was based on Darwin’s emerging theory of evolution that spawned from his experience on the Galapagos Islands, Hitler also had strong family influences tugging at him from his catholic background. He took it as an indignity of the Jews that they killed their own messiah. He considered them Jesus killers, hence senseless barbarians, and disseminated these ideas through the media to support his conspiracy to persecute the Jews for crucifying their Messiah. Following are quotes from Adolf Hitler.

 

I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so. [i]

 

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. [ii]

 

I say: my Christian feeling tells me that my lord and savior is a warrior. It calls my attention to the man who, lonely and surrounded by only a few supporters, recognized what they [the Jews] were, and called for a battle against them, and who, by God, was not the greatest sufferer, but the greatest warrior. . . As a human being it is my duty to see to it that humanity will not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did that old civilization two thousand years ago, a civilization which was driven to its ruin by the Jews. . . I am convinced that I am really a devil and not a Christian if I do not feel compassion and do not wage war, as Christ did two thousand years ago, against those who are steeling and exploiting these poverty-stricken people. Two thousand years ago a man was similarly denounced by this particular race which today denounces and blasphemes all over the place. . . That man was dragged before a court and they said: he is arousing the people! So he, too, was an agitator! [iii]

Hitler claimed to be a Christian, yet he embraced the atheistic teachings of evolution as a deist, which holds to the idea that God created the universe, and then abandoned it. Under this premise man is just another animal that must survive by the same principles of natural selection. In this way Hitler was able to use both religion and atheism to provide a motive for destroying the Jews. On the one hand the Jews were Jesus killers and should pay for their crimes, and on the other, he had a bigger army. So, he used the “Survival of the fittest” maxim to justify killing them – they should die because they were weaker. He embraced both diametrically opposing world views of Christianity and mass murder, which is an uncanny ability of all psychopaths to partition one region of the mind from the other to remain ignorant of their own thoughts and intensions, unchecked from a lapse of logic and reason. In this way conscience is preserved. A day is coming when another man will arise with many of the same mindsets of Hitler, who will rally the world together against Christians and believing Jews. He will question the existence of God, while exalting himself as God at the same time.

 

Right now our culture is as screwed up as it has ever been, and if disaster struck our nation, we could easily sink to the same level of Germany’s atrocities. Germany was humiliated with the signing of the Versailles Treaty after WWI; Hitler came along and restored their nation’s pride and offered to raise them above all other nations, and they were willing to do anything for him just for a chance to be the greatest nation in the world. Not a day goes by that the U.S. does not spout its supremacy over the world. If and when we loose that position, whom will we be willing to oppress to restore our sense of world supremacy? 

 

So it seems it doesn’t matter whether civilization is ruled by religion or science, they both end in oppression.

 

Aristotle used his logic to surmise that the celestial bodies revolved around the earth. How many centuries from now will people be laughing at us because of the silly things we believed and should have known better, if we could just open our eyes, but it is not that simple? Fetuses start learning about the world even before they are born, and as infants they are busy filling their cranial reservoirs with more information than they will accumulate over a lifetime. The things we learn at this early age are the things we will assume for the rest of our natural lives. This knowledge is critical information that forms our perceptions of the world, along with our attitudes and values, which directs us throughout our adult lives for good or for evil. The problem is, this knowledge becomes available to us before we are old enough to sensor or interpret the information. Our critical period forms our personalities mostly before we have an opportunity to decide who we are. Once children hit their early teens they begin asking questions about the world; however, this is long after the connections have been made in the brain and oceans of knowledge have filled their minds. Before our curiosity is peaked, we have already put on a pair of colored glasses without knowing it, each person interpreting the world through a different shaded lens. We think we are being objective, but true objectivity does not exist. We would be better off blindfolded, but as it is we think that we can see and that our glasses are clear.

 

What some people are willing to believe is scary. We have been given the opportunity to paint a mural of our own version of truth, but the truth does not change any more than a tree will move over six inches to avoid a drunk driver. We are aimlessly swimming in a sea of ideas. What we experience as a society is what we know about the universe, and what we believe is what colors our world in self-determined shades of reality. What we decide is real is how we live as a culture. Since we create our own reality, we will never know what true reality is, because our ideas will always get in the way of perceiving the truth about ourselves and the universe. Ironically, man is barred from reality because he has a brain that can reason and understand. In contrast, wild animals have only the one reality, which is nature. Therefore, since they have no ability to build mental schemes of alternate views, the way they perceive the world is correct. Using Aristotelian reasoning again we can deduce a simple premise:

 

-          Reality does exist

-          Wild animals experience a common reality that is pervasive throughout nature

-          Nature’s reality is inherently true

-          We have the body of an animal, and are classified as primates

-          We are a part of nature’s reality

 

If the above logic is sound, then the following statements must also be true: ‘The closer we get to nature, the closer we get to reality.’ The opposite statement must also be true: ‘The greater civilizations we build for ourselves, the further we stray from reality.’ We can therefore conclude that our kingdoms and empires are not built on reality, but on human perception. It is also true that the further we wander into these brave new worlds, the less the laws of nature work in our favor, for we cannot be civilized and live like animals at the same time. However, that is what we are trying to do and our societies are falling apart. Thus, the universal reality of nature breaks down in the advent of civilization. Hitler attempted to govern developed nations by the laws of nature and the developed world nearly crashed and burned. Civilization must operate by a different set of laws, the laws that God has given us, but His laws oppose the nature of man.

 

The main point of this chapter is to inspire you to think about one statement: If colossal empires are inevitable and if the fulfillment of end-time prophesy is hinged on a last days emerging technology, then it is inevitable that man should destroy himself through his invented civilizations that has led him away from the reality of nature and to man’s unnatural civilization. Every civilization that sought to advance based its knowledge on an understanding of astronomy; the mathematics they learn from the discipline of the stars they applied directly to the structures they built. Just like the Egyptians and their pyramids, they learned many things through the construction process; their knowledge of mathematics grew exponentially according to their needs. Remember the ancient city that was in the process of construction when God suddenly stopped it? —Babylon. It must have been highly significant for this city not to be built if God Himself halted its construction. Gen 11:1-9 says,

 

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel--because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.  NIV

 

The city of Babylon with its great tower was man’s first attempt at metropolis. Had they been successful in building it, they would have catapulted the world into a premature technological age, but God put a stop to their progress, because they would have begun to fulfill end-time prophesy before it was even written. Although the effects of confounding the Babylonians are still with us in the many languages throughout the earth, there are cities today that are bigger in population, who speak the same language than the whole population of the world at that time. God confounded their language as an effort to curb the technological era that was destined to unravel the mysteries of the universe before the time, but the consequences of technology that God once hindered have now come upon this generation. God has a problem with people striving to build a tower that reaches into heaven with the intent of being at eyelevel with Him. This was man’s first fascination with technology in recorded history, and it had the immediate effect of making people think they were as gods, suggesting that the attitude of self-adulation is native to any technological society. As each generation passes, we who have achieved Babylon’s technological goals believe in part that the distance between God and man is closing, when in fact it is merely our own end that is rapidly approaching. Whatever God was trying to circumvent in the tower of Babble we have rediscovered three centuries ago. Its effects have come upon our modern society, as we live in a facsimile of what the Babylonians had not even begun to imagine. God knew they would destroy themselves with their technology. Nothing would be impossible to them, and God knew what they would do with such power, so He put them back in the Stone Age in order that man might live a few more years before he ended his days on earth.

 

James R. Wuthrich

www.jeansbiblestudy.com 

 

Collapse - The end of the age of oil    1:22:47    Peek oil

 

 _______________________

 

Burke, James. (1995). The Day the Universe Changed. Little Brown and Company (Back Bay Books), London, England.  

 

[i] ( Adolf Hitler, from John Toland [Pulitzer Prize winner], Adolf Hitler, New York: Anchor Publishing, 1992, p. 507. )

 

[ii] ( Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Ralph Mannheim, ed., New York: Mariner Books, 1999, p. 65. )

 

[iii] ( Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered on April 12, 1922; from Charles Bracelen Flood, Hitler: The Path to Power, Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989, pp. 261-262. )