June 10, 2012

The Final Act

In these nervous early years of the 3rd Millennium, what we are experiencing is the final act of a drama that has been playing out for several thousand years. 
It is a conflict that has been raging between two forces, two ideologies, over the centuries. This drama is now in the crisis stage, where the situation is approaching criticality, and the battle-lines becoming ever sharper. Soon, everyone will have to make a choice, and decide to which ideology he/she pledges allegiance.

What two forces could possibly have been contending for thousands of years? It is the basic dichotomy between good and evil. These simple words are more than just adjectives; they capsulize opposing modes of thinking. The concept of 'good' embraces the notion that every individual person is valuable and deserving of life. Conversely, the basis of evil is selfishness, the belief that no-one else matters but the big 'I'.

While it may be purely allegorical, the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden illustrates the crux of the dilemma facing mankind. The prototypical couple are presented with two choices, represented by two trees. Genesis 2:9 states: “In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God warns them that eating the fruit of the tree called 'the knowledge of good and evil,' will result in their death. A curious entity called 'the serpent' comes along and convinces the woman to eat the fruit, and the man follows suit. When questioned by God, the woman replies, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen 3:13). She acknowledged that she'd been duped by the serpent being.

Concerning the other tree, not much is written except this verse: (Gen 3:22)  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and [lest he] live forever.” Apparently, the fruit of this tree would impart immortality... which would be very dangerous after they had eaten of the other fruit, that of knowledge.

What is this all about? It's about the two big choices facing every person, and collectively, the whole human race. The tree of knowledge represents human reason-- the idea that every individual can use his/her own ability, apart from God, to determine what's good and what's evil. At the racial level, it stands for humanity's rejection of believing in and following God for guidance in all our ways. Symbolically, this tree is the origin of gnosticism, the belief that one can obtain knowledge (gnossis, from Greek) by arcane means that are independent of God and his guidance.

The tree of life, conversely, represents what it says- life in a fulfilling sense, guided by God, and hence, resulting in only good. Had Adam and Eve passed the test, and declined to eat of the tree of knowledge, as instructed by God, they would eventually have been allowed to partake of the tree of life. Instead, because they had taken the irrevocable step, they had to be prevented from having eternal life since it would have become an everlasting nightmare.

As it is, everyone must die, which under the circumstances of the world created by 'homo sapiens' (reasoning man), is a merciful end to the woes that assail us. To those who shun the notion of God and an after-life, death becomes the final end, followed only by nothingness. To those who believe the scriptures (of most faiths) this life ends, but we will continue to exist in a new, spiritual form.

You can look at history and see that humanity has drifted away from a largely theo-centric view of reality-- i.e. where the notion of God, or of gods, is the background assumption. Today, at least in the scientific Western societies, atheism (secular humanism) is the predominant paradigm. Even nominally religious adherents behave basically in the same manner as secular society. Using human reasoning, Neitche stated that 'God is dead,' and Freud implied that man invented God, rather than vice-versa.

The 20th century was the bloodiest in our recorded annals; all while we were making unparalleled 'progress' (ostensibly) in the sciences and engineering. Every invention from the fertile mind of logical man has the potential to be used for good or evil. And, as history demonstrates, if it has the potential, it inevitably will be used for evil, every time!

We have let our industries pollute our environment, the very air we breathe and the water we drink, because our leaders think that profit is more important than quality of life. It's not simply 'quality of life' as they blather; it's life itself, survival, that's at stake. It may take a few more generations to manifest, but we are seeing today unprecedented rates of debilitating diseases that were rare, if not unknown, just a generation or so ago. Fertility rates are dropping; males producing less sperm; deformed babies being born; epidemic and chronic diseases running rampant.

The phenomenon of bee colony collapse eludes our understanding, and has the potential to drastically reduce food production. Radiation from the reckless use of depleted uranium weapons and from careless design of nuclear reactors permeates the global atmosphere, and is much worse than authorities will admit. Animal species of all kinds are disappearing under the stress of human encroachment. In America and elsewhere, the 'precautionary principle' has been tossed in the dust-bin, and companies like Monsanto have free hand to promote and sell their genetically-modified organisms in place of traditional seeds for farming.

The examples cited above are merely the most egregious ones that demonstrate our headlong rush towards what amounts to racial suicide. Sure, the optimists have this pathetic faith that, come what may, we will muddle thru... and even thrive in some yet-to-arrive utopia that will miraculously spring from the rational mind of men when all seems lost. This kind of thinking simply illustrates how deluded mankind  can become under the paradigm of the 'tree of knowledge.' This is the thinking of the adolescent mind that has always had its needs met by more mature custodians. But secular atheists don't believe in any other custodian apart from ourselves. Where does that leave them?

While the common people talk about, and long for, peace, our leaders give us the Orwellian double-speak that 'war is peace.' They spout this nonsense... and send our young people off to some distant land to kill strangers that never bothered them, and to be sacrificed on the altars of corporate profit.

Some readers may object that most humans desire, even strive for, good. It's the leaders who drag us into the endless wars, who approve of destructive industrial activities, in short, who are evil. And this view is correct, but does not absolve the rest of us from responsibility, or from having to make the choice between the way of caring for others, or the way of selfishness.

Shakespeare put it this way: “The fault is in ourselves, not in our stars, that we are underlings.” His character was referring to the belief in fate, but we could also think of it as referring to the human 'stars' who run our world. Most of us prefer to be entertained than to study, even in the mildest sense of the word. We'd rather leave the decisions to someone else than have to learn enough to make them ourselves.

What has happened in the USA is the epitome of what happens when men apply their best reasoning into designing a society. Think of it. The American constitution used to be hailed as the highest example of a governance model. The American populace regarded itself as a beacon on a hill; the New Atlantis, a present utopia, and so on. The awful reality is finally beginning to dawn on many people, both within its borders and without-- the USA has become an abominable image of what it aspired to be!

As described in the Book of Revelation, the once-luminous virgin clothed with the sun, has grown into the debauched harlot riding a scarlet beast. Now, I'm not saying that is the interpretation of the scripture; merely that the words echo what has taken place, historically, for this one nation. If the US, and its system ('democratic capitalism') is the best that human reason can devise, and in barely two centuries it has turned rotten to the core; then how much hope can anyone seriously retain that reason shall somehow lead us to earthly nirvana?

This century is showing the world's population the true, mature fruit of the tree of knowledge. Regrettably, it will have to get much worse still before the die-hard, optimistic, secular humanists finally get it-- we can't save ourselves! Human reason will lead only to death-- individual death, and collective destruction. (See proverbs 14:12).

Sure, it's true that 'religions' have equally failed to ever create utopian societies. Every religion quickly falls under the control of men guided by the way of evil. It's the lot of mankind to need organizational structures to achieve things; and as soon as structure is in place, the opportunists rush in to occupy it. The great messengers of God did not found religions; that aberration was the idea of their followers.

But, if each of us were raised to develop a personal understanding of the Creator, and individual openness to His subtle guidance, things might be different. Had our primordial ancestors avoided the allure of the tree of knowledge, we could have developed the planet into a paradise.

As validation of the maligned scriptures, the present state of the world reflects exactly what was written so long ago. As the book opened with a symbolic pair of fruit trees in the middle of a garden, so this chapter of human history is drawing to a close with the ripened fruit of the prohibited tree of knowledge. In the past, we thought we had options; but today, there's no middle ground as the bounds of the dichotomy are delineated. There are only two choices facing mankind-- life or death. (See Deuteronomy 30:18-20 as a similar choice facing the ancient Israelites.)

The arc of destiny is approaching completion. The forbidden fruit has brought death to every person ever born, and is now bringing destruction to the whole race as we come to the end of the Age of Reason. Sadly, there is no avoiding the calamities that will soon assail the world; what has been prophesied will come to pass. But there is still time for everyone who reads these words to make the awesome choice for themselves. Forget about the swollen heads who scoff at the notion of God-- let them suffer the consequences of their arrogance! Listen, instead, to the 'still, small voice' within your heart that speaks life to your soul.

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