Light of the World in Our Modern Age
We live in a world that has a powerful vision/myth/story of its development. Humans were long in the darkness of superstition and religion, believing things without reason, constrained by threatening myths of judgment, reaching its depths in the “dark ages” and “middle ages,” the age of faith. But then the “Renaissance” brought the rebirth of classical pagan thought and the “Enlightenment” ushered in the “Age of Reason.” Humans attained maturity and autonomy. We realized that there is no God to judge or constrain us, that we are tiny in a vast, mindless universe. We are radically free to choose anything or nothing. We create ourselves. We die, and that’s the end!
The development of this “back-story” of the modern world grew from reaction to the misuse and abuse of “Christendom” to which the Reformation also reacted – both Protestant and Catholic. But this “Enlightenment” has become the foundation of our secular world and has itself come under deep challenge in post-modern “criticism.”
It began in a period when Christian scholars such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, et al. were using new instruments, new mathematics, and laying the foundations of the development of the modern scientific method. The Enlightenment story claimed science as a quest for deliverance from darkness, and some Christians reacted by rejecting science. Secular orthodoxy and religious fundamentalism battle to this day.
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