Part I: Western Philosophy
The fact that philosophy’s focus has never remained static over time makes its history very complex with the added possibility that most of the early writers may have even been philosophers before historians. The world’s main philosophical trends and traditions can however be traced with a decent amount of precision while considering that the ruling philosophy of any period is determined by the socio-cultural climate and economic context [when it was written and published].
The first Western philosophers, starting with Thales of Miletus (c.620-c.555BC), were cosmologists who made inquiries about the nature and origin of all things; what defined them particularly as a new type of thinkers was that their speculations unlike those before them were purely naturalistic and not based on or guided by myth or legend. The traditions of Western philosophy originates around the Aegean Sea and southern Italy in the 6c BC in the Greek-speaking region which saw its philosophical traditions and teachings blossom with Plato (c.428-c.348BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), who have remained highly influential in Western thought, and who probed virtually all areas of knowledge; no distinction separated theology, philosophy and science then.
As the centuries came, Christianity grew as a major religious and socio-cultural force in Europe (2-5c), and apologists such as Augustine de Hippo (354-430) started to synthesise the Christian world-view with ancient philosophy, a tradition that continued with St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and throughout the Middle Ages.
As the 16c and the 17c were the years that experienced the Scientific Revolution, the physical sciences started to assert their authority as a field of their own and grow separate from theology and philosophy. A new age of Rationalist philosophers, notably Descartes (1596-1650) started their works based on the minute analysis and interpretation of the philosophical implications of the ground-breaking new scientific discoveries and knowledge of the time. The 18c produced the empiricist school of thought of John Locke and David Hume (1711-1776) in the search for the foundations of knowledge, to conclude the turn of the century with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who developed a strong synthesis of rationalism and empiricism as a school of philosophy. Further, the development of positivist philosophy in the 19c was inspired and based solely on the scientific method and American pragmatism [with the competing philosophy of Utilitarianism and Marxism]. Later, the individual experienced the philosophy of existentialism based on the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and in the 20c the discipline of psychology had firmly invented itself as a field separate from philosophy [including many branches such as neuroscience, psychiatry, cognitive-behavioural, etc].
The 20c and Western Philosophy’s influence across civilisation
Perhaps due to its wide use in maintaining reason among intellectuals and society, philosophy had fragmented into different precise and specific branches by the 20c [philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of medicine…]. However at its core, the emphasis of philosophy remained on the analytics and linguistic philosophy due to the huge influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).
Indian philosophy for example shares similarities with some aspects of Western philosophy in its foundations based on the development of logic from the Nyaya School, founded by Gautama (fl. 1c). The tenet of most schools were codified into short aphorisms (sutras) commented upon by later philosophers in the Southern parts of Asia, and India. More specifically the emphasis on linguistic expression and the nature of language which is believed to be similarly important as in the West, but different in theme as India’s language was greatly enhanced by the early development of linguistics or Sanskrit grammar, and the nature of knowledge and its acquisition. In modern times, Indian philosophy has seen an increasing Western influence especially from the social philosophies of utilitarian schools which inspired a number of religious and socio-cultural movements, such as the Brahmo Samaj. The 20c saw the Anglo-American linguistic philosophy form the basis of research, with added influence from European phenomenology present in the works of scholars such as KC Bhattacharya. The trend of Western philosophy as inspiration continued to be disseminated by intellectuals in the East, and Chinese philosophy too which first made its appearance during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256BC) later experienced Western influence in the 20c, most notably in the introduction of the leftist branch of Marxism which became China’s official political philosophy. Around the same period, a New Confucian movement rose, attempting to synthesise the traditions of the West and the East [traditional Confucian values with Western democracy and science].
As for the African continent, starting from the Middle-East and North-Africa, it may be unsurprising that Western values or philosophy had no major influence in the Islamic territories and Muslim world who had been subjugating non-Muslin civilisations with violent wars [jihad] in the name of their God. The major European incursions and hence influence in the Arab world comes from the time of Napoleon I’s invasion of Egypt (1798) which led to the promotion of Western philosophy in the area for a short time before a backlash from Islamic circles called for a religious and politically-oriented philosophy to counter foreign domination.
Regarding African philosophy, it is to this day a subject of intense debates among intellectuals and cultured circles whether such a thing exists, along with the definition that ‘African philosophy’ may include: for example, many scholars associate the term to communal values, beliefs and world-views of traditional Black African oral cultures, highlighting the rich, long and sometimes violent tradition of indigenous African philosophy [stretching back in time] with tales of supernaturalism and communally-derived ethics by tribes. What seems to be a certitude is that African philosophy is unlike Western, Indian, Chinese and Arabic traditions as there is very little in terms of African philosophical traditions before the modern period. However, the logical question remains, and that is: if African philosophy are works that were created within the geographical area that constitutes Africa, then perhaps all of the writings of ancient Egyptians may quality as African, and also Christian apologists of the 4-5c period like St Augustine de Hippo. Indeed, to further the argument of logic, the whole world’s culture and societies could all be qualified as African, since it has recently been proven scientifically that all humans evolved after leaving Africa.
Part II: Religious Cultures
The world’s cultures are generally classified into the five major religious traditions:
The tradition of Buddhism which is made up of thought and practice originates in India around 2500 years ago, it was inspired by the teaching of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). The concept of Buddha is explained in the ‘Four Noble Truths’, which concludes by the claim of a path leading to deliverance from the universal human experience of suffering. One of its main tenet is the law of karma, which states that good and evil deeds result in the appropriate reward or punishment in life or in a succession of rebirths.
Dating from its earliest history, Buddhism is divided into two main traditions.
- Theravada Buddhism adheres to the strict and narrow of early Buddhist writings, where salvation is possible only for the few who accept the severe discipline and effort necessary to achieve it.
- Mahayana Buddhism is the more ‘liberal form’ and makes concession to popular piety by seemingly diluting the degree of discipline required for salvation, claiming that it is achievable for everyone instead. It introduces the doctrine of bodhisattva (or personal saviour). The spread of Buddhism lead to other schools to expand, namely Chan or Zen, Tendai, Nichiren, Pure Land and Soka Gakkai.
Theravada Buddhism in South and South-East Asia
While being nearly eradicated in its original birthplace, the practice of Theravada Buddhism has turned into a significant religious force in the states of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Traditionally, it is believed that missions in the area by the emperor of India, Ashoka in the 3c BC introduced Buddhism. While the evidence lacks the consistency to be conclusive, it is assumed and believed by most that many different variations of Hindu and Buddhist traditional movements were present, scattered across South-East Asia up to the 10c. Theravada Buddhism eventually acquired more influence from the 11c to 15c as it experienced growing contacts with Sri Lanka where the movement was outward looking. In Burma (now Myanmar), Buddhist states arose and soon others followed, namely Cambodia, Laos, Java and Thailand, including the Angkor state in Cambodia and the Pagan state in Burma. During the modern period [at the exception of Thailand which was never colonised], the imperial occupation, Christian missionaries and the Western world-view challenged Theravada Buddhism [the strict version of Buddhist philosophy] in South=East Asia.
Mahayana Buddhism in North and Central Asia
The Mahayana which is the form of Buddhism commonly practised in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Korea and Japan dates from about the 1c when it arose as a more liberal movement within the Buddhist movement in northern India, focussing on various forms of popular devotion.
Orthodox Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism (a Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism) had been transmitted through missionaries invited from India during the 8c in Tibet. Today’s popular Tibetan Buddhism places an emphasis on the appeasement of malevolent deities, pilgrimages and the accumulation of merit. Since the Chinese invasion in 1959 and the Dalai Lama’s exile from India however, Buddhism has been repressed drastically.
China’s introduction to Buddhism from India happened in the 1c AD via the central Asian oases along the Silk Route. It had surprisingly established itself as a reasonable presence in China by the end of the Han Dynasty (AD 220). Buddhism had become so successful by the 9c that the Tang Dynasty saw it as ‘an empire within the empire’ and persecuted it in 845 after which the Chan and Pure Land Schools only remained strong, drew closer and found harmony with each other. Buddhism and other religions however was nearly subjugated by the attempts of the Marxist government of Mao Zedong (1949 onwards) when the lands of China were nationalised and Buddhist monks forced into secular employments. Since 1978, the Buddhist movement and other religions have seen a revival in China.
Islam is simply Arabic for ‘submission to the will of God (Allah)’ and the name of the religion which was founded in Arabia during the 7c throughout a controversial prophet known as Muhammad. Islam relies on prophets to establish its doctrines which it believes have existed since the beginning of time, sent by God like Moses and Jesus, to provide the necessary guidance for the achievement of eternal reward; and the culmination of this succession is assumed by Muslims to be the revelation to Muhammad of the Quran, the ‘perfect Word of God’.
Beliefs and traditions
There are five religious duties that make up the founding pillar of Islam:
- The shahadah (profession of faith) is the honest recitation of the two-fold creed: ‘There is no god but God’ and ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’.
- The salat (formal prayer) must be said at fixed hours five times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca
- The payment of zakat (‘purification’) [a form of religious tax by the Muslim community] which is regarded as an act of worship and considered as the duty of sharing one’s wealth out of gratitude for God’s favour, according to the uses laid down in the Quran [such as subjugation of all non-Muslims, the imposition of violent and controversial Sharia law (a section of Islam as a political ideology which dictates all aspects of Muslim life with severe repercussions if transgressed), learning to adapt behaviour to protect Islam at all cost even if it means deceiving (‘Taqqiya’), etc]
- There is an imposition regarding fasting (saum) which has to be done during the month of Ramadan.
- The pilgrimage to the Mecca, known as the Haji is part of the sacred law of Islam which applies to all aspects of Muslim life, not simply religious practices. The Haji is described as the Islamic way of life and prescribes the way for a Muslim to fulfil the commands of God and reach heaven, and must be performed at least once during one’s lifetime. The cycle of festivals such as Hijra (Hegira), the start of the Islamic year, and Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast during daytime are two of the most known practices still misunderstood by mainstream media.
Although all Muslims believe in the ideology of Islam and its teachings from Muhammad, two basic and distinct groups exist within Islam. The Sunnis are the majority and acknowledge the first four caliphs as Muhammad’s legitimate successors. The other group, known as the Shiites make up the largest minority movement in the Muslim world, and view the imam as the principal religious authority. A number of subsects and derivatives also exist, such as the Ismailis (one group, the Nizaris, regard the Aga Khan as their imam), while the Wahhabis, a movement focussed on reforming Islam begun in the 18c.
Today Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions – probably due to the high birth rate of third world North Africa where it originates along with the strong impositions it inculcates in its adepts such as the subjugation of all non-Muslims into slaves, sexual slavery, forced conversation, childhood indoctrination, honour killings and jihad (a war in the name of Islam that guarantees salvation along with mass migration to promote Islam) – and today about 700 million Muslims exist throughout the World. The constant clash with enlightened movements of the Christian West, with intellectuals such as Dr Bill Warner who initiated the movement for the study of political Islam to help break down and propagate important facts about the ideology of Islam’s political techniques in subjugating global non-Muslim societies, have started to gain major attention from the intellectual crowd [who are active on media platforms such as Twitter, a controversial platform that uses its administrative rights dictatorially, known to restrict freedom of speech, research & factual information that oppose liberal opinions, and many researchers from accessing their archived ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’, affecting their work and research – a direct breach of Human Rights as specified by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – and many have questioned the practice over possibilities of World War III being caused by the USA’s unethical technological monopoly over other Western nations data. Saddam Hussein was assaulted militarily by the UN after breaching human rights]
Islam remains a controversial religions tradition while also being the only religion with a “manual to run a civilisation” as Dr. Bill Warner phrased it, in the Sharia [an Islamic set of doctrines in managing a civilisation – politics, culture, philosophy and economy] which at its deeper core includes the war on other civilisations through jihad, the subjugation of all non-Muslims, the destruction of all non-Islamic historical heritage, forced circumcision of both sexes and a whole set of violent and radical forms of Islamic lifestyle requirements that include violent and sometimes fatal repercussions [for ‘transgressing‘]. Repeatedly France has profoundly rejected Islam as a dangerous religious practice and culture that is incompatible with the values of French society & culture; however the obsolete system of management that is politics remains an atavistic barrier to banning Islam due to the concept of ‘political correctness’ – an invalid ideology created by the most corrupt & untrustworthy adepts of the obsolete practice of ‘politics’ [for reasons that are now being scrutinised in the name of change]. The late Christopher Hitchens was also a prominent speaker on secularisation and particularly focused on countering the atavistic Islamisation of the West which threatens personal liberty, freedom of expression, education, innovation, development, cohesion and socio-cultural creativity due to its rigid doctrines.
Hinduism does not trace its origin to a particular founder, does not have any prophets, no set creed, and no institutional structure, but instead focuses on the ‘right way of living’ (dharma) rather than a set of doctrines. It embraces a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Variations exist across different parts of India where it was founded, differences in practice can be found even from village to village in the deities worshipped, the scriptures used, and the festivals observed. Those of the Hindu faith may be either theists or non-theists, and revere one or more gods or goddesses, or none, and instead represent the ultimate in personal (e.g. Brahma) or impersonal (e.g. Brahman) terms. Over 500 million Hindus exist today.
Most forms of Hinduism assume and promote the idea of reincarnation or transmigration. The process of birth and rebirth continuing for life after life is a process referred to and termed ‘samsara’. The state of rebirth (pleasant or unpleasant) is believed to be the results of karma, the law by which the consequences (good or bad) of actions reflect when life is transmigrating from one form to another which influences its character. Hindus’ ultimate spiritual goal is maksha – release from the cycle of samara.
No specific text is regarded as specifically authoritative unlike any other religion, Hinduism is based on a rich and varied literature with the earliest dating from Vedic period (c.1500-c500BC), known collectively as the Veda. Later (c.500BC-AD500) the religious law books (dharma sutras and dharma shastras) surfaced; they codified the classes of society (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama), and formed the basis of the Indian caste system. The great epics were added to these, notably the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which includes one of the most influential Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita.
The concept of Hinduism is founded centrally on the caste system which is believed to have been structured since the first Aryans came to India and brought a three-tiered social structure of priests (brahmanas), warriors (Kshatriyas), and commoners (vaishyas), to which they added the serfs (shudras), the indigenous population of India which may have been hierarchically structured. The Rig Veda (10.90) gives sanction to the class system (varna), describing each class as coming from the body of the sacrificed primal person (purusha). Orthodox Hindus regard the class system which is derived from the caste system as a sacred structure in harmony with natural or cosmic law (dharma). The system of class developed into the caste (jati) system which exists today and there are thousands of castes within India based on inherited profession and concepts of purity and pollution. The upper castes are generally regarded as ritually and philosophically purer than the lower ones. While this practice was outlawed in 1951, a number of castes are still considered so ‘polluting’ that their members are known as ‘untouchables’ [too ‘polluting’ to be touched or meddled with], thus marriage between castes is forbidden and transgressors have been known to be harshly punished.
Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are the main chief gods in Hinduism, and together form the triad (the Trimurti). Many lesser deities also exist, such as the goddesses Maya and Lakshmi. It is common to most Hindus to go on pilgrimages to local and regional worship sites with an annual cycle of local, regional and all-Indian festivals.
Shiva: The Almighty
Shaivism is the main religious school in Hinduism and is devoted primarily to the worship of the god Shiva, who is thought to be the creator, the preserver, the transformer, the concealer and the revealer [through his blessings]. In the Smriti tradition, he is considered as one of the five primordial forms of God. Shiva is often revered in the abstract form of Shiva-Lingam, and is also represented in deep meditation, or dancing the tandava in the form of Nataraja. The theonym Shiva comes from an epithet of Rudra, the adjective Shiva « kind, lovable » euphemistically used for the god, who in the Rig-Veda also carries the epithet ghora « terrible ».
Shiva is the god of destruction, illusion and ignorance. He represents destruction but the aim of it is for the creation of a new world: Shiva transforms, and leads the manifestation through the « stream of forms ». Shiva’s emblem is the lingam [phallic representation], a symbol of creation associated with yoni, a stone slab representing the female organ: the matrix of the world. By the union of lingam and yoni, the absolute unfolding un the world proves that it overcomes male-female or spiritual-material antagonism.
Lingam also represents the cosmos, but also the power to know the conscience as the axis of reality. No longer oriented towards the natural end of life force and incarnation, the phallus erected towards the sky represents the gathering of the energies of the yogi on the sensible plane and their conversion to a subtle level. In Brahmanic Shaivism, the fundamental phallic characters of the lingam are always found clearly, both in the legends explaining the origin of this cult and in the bodily qualities occasionally attributed to the God. As portrayed in deep meditation, he has his eyes half-closed, for he opens them when the world is created and closes them to end the universe and begin a new cycle.
According to legend, Shiva and Vishnu went to a forest to fight 10 000 heretics. Furious, they sent a tiger, a snake and fierce black dwarf armed with a club. Shiva killed the tiger [he is traditionally seen sitting on a tiger’s skin], since « master of creatures », « master of the herd » and « master of nature » [Pashupati], he tamed the snake and placed it around his neck as a collar [a symbol of control of passions] and placed his foot on the black dwarf and performed a dance developing with such power that the dwarf and heretics recognised him as their lord. Shiva dancing represents the universal and eternal soul radiating all the energy (shakti), in particular by the symbol of destructive and creative fire. This continuous dance generates the succession of days and nights, the cycle of seasons and that of birth and death. Eventually, his energy will cause the destruction of the universe, but he will then recreate it. This creative dance of the world symbolises the eternal process.
Shiva and Dionysus
According to the French orientalist, Alain Daniélou (October 4, 1956 – January 27, 1963), also known as « Shiva Sharan » (the protégé of Lord Shiva), a member of the French Institute of Indology and the French School of the Far East (1963 – 1977) and director of the International Institute of Comparative Sciences of Music in Berlin and Venice, Shiva and Dionysus lead to the worship of a common cult in Europe and maintained that we would be swept away by India.
« In India, we can revive and understand sometimes almost completely the rites and beliefs that were those of the Mediterranean world and the Middle East in antiquity. »
– Alain Daniélou, Shiva and Dionysus, Fayard 1979
Daniélou opposes two types of religions (one agricultural and the other urban) based on the work of Mircea Eliade. In this logic, he argues that the cult of a naturist and phallic god, assimilated to the the bull, would be a universal model but that this belief would have been marginalised by the expansion of monotheistic urban culture. According to Daniélou always, not only the two divinities, Greek and Indian, share many myths in common, but in addition their epithets have comparable meanings.
« […] Dionysos is the Protogonos (the Firstborn) as Shiva is Prathamaja (Firstborn), the » oldest of the gods « , also called Bhaskar (Bright) or Phanes (the illuminator) in the tradition Orphic. This god who teaches the fundamental unity of things is called Shiva (benevolent) or Meilichios (benevolent). He is Nisah (Bliss), the god of Naxos or Nysa. The very name of Dionysus probably means the « god of Nysa » (the sacred mountain of Shiva) as Zagreus is the god of Mount Zagron. Shiva-Dionysus is also Bhairava (the Terrible) or Bromios (the Noisy), Rudra or Eriboas (the Howler). […] »
– Alain Daniélou, Shiva and Dionysos, Fayard 1979
Some Western religious scholars have proposed a possible connection between Christianity and its founding philosophies with the origins of Hindu dharma. Many Christian rites have similarities from Vedic literature, hence the position of some scholars [See: Western Historians believe Christianity might have roots in Hindu dharma]. Others have pointed the kernel of scientific truth in a number of rituals from Hinduism, although solid empirical evidence is lacking [See: 20 reasons why Hinduism is a very scientific religion], and how Hinduism predicted many recent scientific practices through its mythological stories, such as cloning and embryo transfer [See: What are proven scientific facts that are said in Hindu mythology?]
Judaism is the religion of the Jews where the central belief in one God is the foundation. The primary source of Judaism is the Hebrew Bible, with the next important document being the Talmud, which consists of the Mishnah (the codification of the oral Torah) along with a series of rabbinical commentary. Jewish practice and thought however would be shaped by later documents, commentaries & the standard code of Jewish law and ritual (Halakhah) produced in the late Middle Ages.
Most Jews see themselves as members of a group whose origins lie in the patriarchal period – however varied the Jewish community may be. There is a marked preference for expressing beliefs and attitudes more through rituals that through abstract doctrine. In Jewish rituals, the family is the basic unit although the synagogue too has developed to play an important role in being a centre for community study and worship. The Sabbath, a period starting from sunset on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday is a central part of religious observance in Judaism with a cycle every year comprising of festivals and days of fasting, the first of these being Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s Day; in the Jewish year, the holiest day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – others include Hanukkah and Pesach, the family festival of Passover.
Rabbinic Judaism is the root of modern Judaism with a diverse historical development. Most Jews today are the descendants of either Ashkenazim or Sephardim, while many other branches of Judaism also exist. The preservation of ‘traditional’ Judaism is generally linked to the Orthodox Judaism movement of the 19c. Other branches, such as Reform Judaism attempt to interpret Judaism in the light of modern scholarship and knowledge, a process pushed further by Liberal Judaism – unlike Conservative Judaism which attempts to emphasise on the positives of ancient Jewish traditions in attempts to modify orthodoxy.
Waves of anti-Semitic prejudice and persecution during World War II have been regular features of Western media outlets’ [mostly Jewish owned] focus, who throughout history have clashed with the Christian influenced heritage of European civilisations, and this ongoing tension between Semitic traditions/philosophies/beliefs and Western Christian-influenced cultures was to take a turn when the rise of a form of « patriotic socialism » [neither left or right, but all encompassing] nationalism across Europe was marked by the spectacular election of the talented Adolf Hitler, who had been the leader of the National Socialist party [Nationalsozialismus later tarnished as « NAZI » by a jew known as Konrad Heiden from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)] in Germany, and implemented the core ideologies of National Socialism [a focus on self-sustainability and socio-cultural and economic independence while creating a healthier – psychologically & physically – nation] with Darwinian influence on health policies, and the arts and a scientific culture of research as an integral part of its core.
The lies surrounding the event known as « the holocaust » based on Communist propaganda, Global Zionist interests, along with the credulity of mediocre politicians across the globe, has today been unfairly implanted in the minds of the ignorant mass media consumer as being the « dark legacy » of a talents such as Adolf Hitler. This exaggerated picture that the media had already been circulating to the disapproval of some leading world figures such as John Kennedy and Gandhi [Article: Quand Gandhi écrivait à son « cher ami »… Adolf Hitler], is still being reviewed by a wave of daring, talented and modern historians of whom many have denied accusations of gas chambers that were not present or inadequate to be used as gas chambers on all of German soil. More testimonies of camp survivors gave notes of swimming pool, orchestras, shower rooms and even a canteen, without ever mentioning gas chambers. Others explained how the media propaganda videos of mass deaths with emaciated bodies were due to the outbreak of Typhus carried by lice which was caused by low hygiene due to the Allied bombing of train tracks which restricted many cities from supplies of food, medicines & sanitation; causing the starvation and death of not only camp detainees but many German men, women and children who were scavenging the streets for food. The shower rooms in the camps on German soil were also documented as working shower rooms that were vital for hygiene and the delousing process.
English historian David Irving was jailed for his revision of events linked to Adolf Hitler while other ground breaking documentaries such as ‘The greatest story never told’ by Dennis Wise keep spreading the real facts that are never part of mainstream media to the new generation of the internet era who seek factual analysis over historical controversies, such as the 150 000 Jews who gave up their heritage and had firmly assimilated German society in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and served loyally against Bolshevism & Communism until the very end.
However, the mainstream mind set remains stuck on the theory of the ‘gassing of the Jews by the Germans’ for most, with urgency being given to the Zionist movement, established by the World Zionist Organisation for the creation of a Jewish homeland, which is still pivotal in most relations between Jews and non-Jews to this day, with over 14 million Jews scattered around the world.
Christianity is a religion that developed out of Judaism, centred on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in Israel. Jesus is believed to be the Messiah or Christ promised by the prophets in the Old Testament, and in a unique relation to God, whose Son or ‘Word’ (Logos) he was proclaimed to be. He selected 12 men as his disciples during his life, who after his death by crucifixion and his resurrection, formed the very nucleus of the Church as a society of believers. Christians gathered together to worship God through the risen Jesus Christ, in the belief of his return to earth and to establish the ‘kingdom of God’.
Despite sporadic persecution, the Christian faith saw a quick progression and spread throughout the Greek and Roman world through the witness of the 12 earliest leaders (Apostles) and their successors. In 315 Christianity was declared by Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The religion survived the Empire’s split and the ‘Dark Ages’ through the witness of groups of monks in monasteries, and made up the basis of civilisation in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Christian scriptures are divided into two testaments:
- The Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is a collection of writings originally composed in Hebrew, except for sections of Daniel and Ezra which are in Aramaic. The contents depict Israelite religion from its roots to about the 2c.
- The New Testament, composed in Greek, is called so in Christian circles because it is believed to represent a new ‘testament’ or ‘covenant’ in the long history of God’s interactions with his people, focussing on Jesus’s ministries and the early development of the apostolic churches.
Differences in doctrines and practices however have led to major divisions in the Christian Church, these are the Eastern or Othodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, which recognises the Bishop of Rome (the pope) as head, and the Protestant Churches stemming from the break-up with the Roman Catholic Chuch in the Reformation. The desire to convert the non-Christian world and spread Christianity through missionary movements led to the establishment of numerically strong Churches in developing economies such as Asia, Africa and South America.
Documentaire: Qui était Jesus ? | Jésus est le personnage le plus influent de l’Histoire. Un homme dont la vie a été largement réécrite a posteriori par l’Eglise. Le christianisme le présente comme l’envoyé de Dieu enfanté miraculeusement dans une étable à Bethleem, le « Messie » faiseur de miracles et mort sur la croix pour sauver les hommes. Pourtant, aucune de ces affirmations n’est historiquement avérée. Seuls de rares témoignages de son époque évoquent Jésus. Qui était vraiment Jésus ? Grâce au travail des historiens, aux récentes découvertes des archéologues et à la lumière des grands événements de son temps, il est aujourd’hui possible de reconstituer une partie de sa vie.
Part III: Science
‘Science’ derives from the Latin Scientia, ‘knowledge’, from the verb scire, ‘to know’. For many centuries ‘science’ meant knowledge and what is now termed science was formerly known as ‘natural philosophy’, similar to Newton’s work of 1687, Naturalis Philosophiae Principia Mathematica (‘The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’). In can be argued that the word ‘science’ itself was not widely used in its general modern meaning until the 19c, and that usage came with the prestige that the scientific method and scientific observation, experimentation and development had by then acquired.
The first exact science to emerge from ancient civilisations is astronomy. Astronomical purposes were the guiding force that led to studying the heavens – so that the ‘will of the gods’ may be foreknown – and in order to make a calendar [which would predict events], which had both practical and religious uses. The seven-day week for example is derived from the ancient Egyptians who although not known as excellent mathematicians, had wanted to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. Chinese records and observations provide valuable references in modern times for eclipses, comets and the positions of stars. In India and even more so in Mesopotamia, mathematics was applied in creating a more descriptive form of astronomy. The ancient Mesopotamian number system was based on 60, thus from it the system of degrees, minutes and seconds was developed.
The Ancient Greeks
It is to be noted that in all these civilisations, the emphasis had been on observation and description, as the tendency was to explain phenomena as being ‘the nature of things’ or the ‘will of the gods’. The Greeks, who had been looking for more immediate explanations, instead relentlessly examined phenomena and the theories propounded by other earlier thinkers critically. Thales of Miletus initiated the study of geometry in the 6c BC.
At the similar period, Pythagoras had been discovering the mathematical relationship of the chief musical intervals, crucially relating number relationships to physically observed phenomena. Early Greek natural philosophers (today known as ‘scientists) passed on two major concepts to their successors: the universe was an ordered structure, and the ordering of it was organic not mechanical; all things had a purpose and were imbued with the propensity to develop in accordance with the purpose they were fated to serve.
The main voice for such ideas to later ages was Aristotle (384-322BC), who provided a cosmology with the earth at its centre in which everything above the moon was subject to circular motion, and everything beneath it [on earth] was composed of one of the four elements: earth, air, fire or water. The whole system was believed to be set in motion by a ‘prime mover’, usually identified with God.
This concept was later given a Mathematical basis by Ptolemy (c.90-168AD), an astronomer and geographer working in Alexandria, whose main work [a solar system with the earth at its centre], the Amagest, was revered until the 17c. Aristotle also taught that living creatures were divided into species organised hierarchically throughout creation and reproducing unchangingly after their own kind – an idea that remained unchallenged until the great debate on evolution in the 19c. For Aristotle, scientific investigation was a matter of observation. Experimentation, by altering natural conditions, falsified the ‘truth of things’.
Archimedes (c.287-212BC) was Ancient Greek’s most famous and influential mathematician, who founded the science of hydrostatics, discovered formulae for areas and volume of spheres, cylinders and other plane and solid figures, anticipated calculus, and defined the principle of the lever. His principal contribution to scientific advancement lies perhaps in demonstrating how physical properties can be rendered in terms of mathematics and how formulae thus produced can be subjected to mathematical manipulation and the results translated back into physical terms.
The Middle Ages
The pursuit of mathematical theory and pure science was not of great importance to the Romans, who preferred practical knowledge and concentrated on technology. After the fall of the Roman Empire, ancient Greek texts were preserved in monasteries. There the number system, derived from ancient Hindu sources, had given more flexibility to mathematics than was possible using Roman numerals. It was combined with an interest in astronomy and astrology, and in medicine.
Aristotelian thought made an emergence in Christian West in large measure through the work of St Thomas Aquinas in the 13c. Christianity assimilated what it could from Aristotle, as Islam had done some centuries before. Scientific knowledge was still regarded as part of a total system embracing philosophy and theology: a manifestation of God’s power, which could be observed and marvelled at, but not altered. Eventually, Aristotle was proclaimed as the ultimate authority and last word in natural philosophy. His enormous prestige combined with the conservatism of academics and of the Church laid something on the progress of science for several centuries. In the later medieval era and the Renaissance period however, ancient Greek scientific thought was refined, and advances were made both in the Christian Mediterranean and in the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The European voyages of exploration and discovery stimulated much precise astronomical work, done with the intention of assisting navigation. Jewish scholars who could move between the Christian and Muslim worlds were often prominent in this work.
The Scientific Revolution
The Scientific Revolution of the 16c and 17c remain up until this day the most defining era in science, and it happened just after the renaissance, where the conduct of scientific enquiry in the West underwent an incredible change. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) refuted many aspects of the already established Ptolemaic model of the solar system where the earth is at the centre of everything in astronomy – where he redefined the system with sun instead at the centre.
A German mathematician, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who was also influenced by his work concluded that the movements of planets’ orbits around the sun are elliptical rather than circular. Galileo Galilei who is now championed by many intellectuals as the father of modern science was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and scientist in those days who improved on the telescope that had been invented in Holland, and used it to make observations that included the Milky Way and Jupiter’s satellites. Later, his further research convinced him of the truth in the new Copernican system [with the sun at the centre], but under threat from the Inquisition he recanted.
In England, William Gilbert (1544-1603) established the magnetic nature of the earth and was the first to describe electricity; William Harvey (1544-1603) explained the circulation of blood; and Robert Boyle (1627-91) studied the behaviour of gases under pressure – all in the early 17c.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who was to replace Aristotle as the leading authority in natural philosophy for the next two centuries also came from England. He established the universal law of gravitation as the key to the secrets of the universe. In 1687, he published his ground breaking work entitled Principia, which stated his three laws of motion. Alongside Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) he invented calculus, and he also did incredibly influential work on optics and the nature of light.
Cooperation and discourse among scientists and intellectuals had been fostered by the creation of societies where meeting and discussions about their work could take place: for example, the Royal Society in London established in 1662, and the Académie des Sciences in Paris, founded in 1666. Discoveries made by various scientists were used by others in science to advance faster to new theories, leading to science obtaining more status and prestige as a driving force in society.
The 18c Enlightenment saw its writers play a major part in bringing the scientific advances of the previous century to the wider public and further enhancing the prestige of science as a reliable driving force of civilisation. The scientific method – observation, research, even experimentation and the use of reason, unfettered by preconceptions or dogma to analyse the findings – was applied to almost all aspects of human life.
Chemistry saw significant advances in the latter part of the century – notably the discovery of oxygen by Lavoisier in France, Priestley in Britain and Scheele in Sweden. The Industrial Revolution was a substantial contribution of scientific knowledge’s impact on society and a variety of minds from various fields with various intentions. The discovery of the dye, aniline led to a ‘revolution’ in the textile industry – an example of science’s usefulness to the ‘eyes of the public’, which gradually led to more public support and hence government funding. The École Polytechnique was founded in France in 1794 to propagate the benefits of scientific discovery throughout society. Elsewhere, technical institutions followed that were funded for scientific work – the new era of the professional in science had begun.
Throughout the 18c, botany also advanced when Linnaeus invented his system of binomial nomenclature (1735), while ever growing interest was aroused by the great variety of new species of plants and animals being discovered by explorers, particularly by Captain Cook.
The French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s (1749-1829) work foreshadowed Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution and made the first break with the notion of immutable species proposed by Aristotle. That particular moment in time also saw geology develop into a science: William Smith (1769-1839), ‘the father of English geology’, was drawn to investigate strata while working as an engineer on the Sommerset coal canal to eventually become the first to identify strata by the different fossils found in them. The epoch-making conclusions of Darwin’s (1809-1882) work on his theory of evolution was accepted by almost all biologists upon its publication as The Origin of Species in 1859, which however did clash with the ideologies promoted by the church. The laws of heredity that had been the work of Gregor Mendel (1822-84) was unfortunately not appreciated in his lifetime – to only later become the founding stone for genetic research. The germ theory of disease was also formulated by the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) who moved into biology.
Physics also evolved from tremendous advances in the 19c, as the Italian, Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) developed the current theory of electricity, and invented the electric battery and electrolysis [a study which he formulated in French and sent as a letter to the Royal Society later]. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) carried out experiments with magnetism and electricity, and enabled the building of generators and motors. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) proposed the field theory of electromagnetism which mathematically related the phenomena of electricity, magnetism and light. The existence of radio waves was also predicted by him, which was eventually demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894).
Although science itself had not been of major importance in the very early stages of the Industrial Revolution in 18c Britain, technology by the end of the 19c – influenced by the works of scientists – had led to the development of most of the machines and tools that were to transform life for most of humankind in the developed world in the following century. Germany as a single nation excelled and innovated for the time between 1870 and 1914, where scientific education and applied science became major parts of the educational system, all the way up to the tertiary level. A research culture, with the ability to generate change became instilled and institutionalised to become part of German education, culture & philosophy.
Atomic physics and relativity
The theory that all matter is made up of minute and indivisible particles known as atoms was proposed by the ancient Greeks, and various early 19c scientists such as Newton, John Dalton (1766-1844), Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856) and William Prout (1785-1850) made significant contributions in refining the concept of the atom and the molecule, and in 1869 Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907) conceived the periodic table classifying the chemical properties of each known element to their atomic weight.
Albert Einstein’s (1879-1955) theoretical work gave way to the development of the quantum theory in the early 20c. Einstein’s theory of relativity would incorporate Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Newton’s mechanics, while also predicting departures from the classical behaviour of materials at velocities approaching the speed of light. The century’s most famous formula was also provided by Einstein – E = mc 2 – to define the mass equivalence of energy. The postulation of the existence of subatomic particles, the building blocks of atoms and their nuclei, was also made after a series of experiments with ionising radiations. The large energy release created by the splitting of the atomic nucleus predicted by Einstein was demonstrated by Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) in 1919. Force fields and their subatomic particles were studied further in the second half of the 20c through the use of large particle accelerators [up to 27km/17mi in length] with a view to forming a unified theory that would describe all forces including gravity.
What the laboratory could not provide in terms of information was gained through astronomical observations which would lead to complementary information in understanding the universe on a microscopic and cosmic scale.
The understanding of the atom in terms of a heavy nucleus surrounded by light electrons has led to a deeper knowledge of the chemical and electronic properties of materials and ways of modelling them. Near the end of the 20c, such advancement enabled the ‘tailor-making’ of materials, substances and devices exploited in chemical, pharmaceutical and electronic products.
Genetics and beyond
The study of the basic building blocks of organic life was largely influenced by the study of the atom of the 20c. Research into understanding the nature of the chemical bond and molecular structure applied in biology led to the work on DNA. Investigation by Francis Crick (1916-2004), James Watson (1928- ) and Maurice Wilkins (1916-2004) in the early 1950s revealed the famous helical structure, which has a particular structural feature in that it is composed of four types of proteins, which proved the existence of a genetic code.
A surge in genetic science was the reality of the latter second half of the century, suddenly unlocking the possibility of cloning and even more controversially, ‘tailor-making’ or ‘engineering’ living beings.
The pace of scientific development has definitely been progressing since the Renaissance and the ongoing Scientific Revolution started in the 16c and 17c. In the 20c, the revolution was exponential, and new information gained from research and experiment is still being used in the applied sciences and technology in the search for newer and more efficient modes of power, tools, and to meet the ever increasing demand for useful and smarter environmentally friendly materials to meet the demands of civilisation while maintaining the fragile balance of our environmental ecosystem due to excessive exploitation and fossil fuel use. The public perception of science is unfortunately only based on its practical applications in everyday life and not on the more life changing matters such as atomic physics or genetics – which are as remote from the average citizen as they have ever been.
Similarly to religion, science arose out of the desire to explain the world around us. The fierce clashes between both institutions have been hard fought, although by the 20c science was crowned as the dominant orthodoxy in guiding civilisation. Yet, with the existence of uncertainty factors and the development of chaos theory, science may be less dogmatic since the Renaissance.
The Scientific Revolution of the 16c & 17c: where science was established as a driving force
The Scientific Revolution could be qualified by many scientists, intellectuals and historians as an era born of a thirst of development and knowledge since it started just after the Renaissance, near the end of the 15c to give birth to science as it is known today. Perhaps its lasting appeal to the world is that it helped refine intellectual thoughts and establish the basis for the founding methods of investigation still used by all fields of science today. In fact, the Scientific Revolution is the name given to change in the nature of intellectual inquiry – the way in which civilisation thought about and investigated the natural world. This wave of scientific revolution began near the end of 15c Europe, and until it was accomplished or at least under way, it could be easily argued whether any of the thinkers, intellectuals and scholars of Christian Europe could properly qualify themselves as ‘scientists’.
The medieval mind set
Although the middle ages lacked the sophistication of today’s society, original thinkers did exist. It may be true however to say that scholasticism – the term given to theological and philosophical thought of the period operated within a tightly structured and closed system: the universe was God’s creation where the primary truths revealing its nature and workings were only found in the Bible. As knowledge, the Bible was also supported by the writings of selected authors of immemorial and unimpeachable authority, namely Galen, Aristotle and the Church Fathers. If one wanted to establish the truth in any matter, one would first seek support from such an authority, and if support was found, the case would be closed. The desires to critically challenge while pushing the boundaries was clearly not present as many may have believed. Most attempted rather to move closer to the supposedly ‘true meanings’ of the already authoritatively established or formulated. When Bishop James Ussher as late as the 1650s tried to investigate the age of the world, his attention went no further than the Holy Scripture, and by voraciously studying Biblical chronology, concluded at a precise date for the Creation – 4004BC.
Moreover, it was also axiomatic for the times and the credibility of such a powerful voice as the church for no loose ends to be present in God’s original ‘perfect Creation.’ Although the Fall of Man had created feelings of uncertainty into the cosmos, evidence of the intended order was still arguable – there was an underling order, pattern and correspondence everywhere. Things could – in most cases – best be understood or described by analogy with another. Assuming that the one who governs the universe is God, the Sun would therefore be most powerful of all the planets circling the earth, so the king is chief ruler among men, so reason should rule over the inner life of humankind, and even more so the lion must be the king of beasts. Nowadays, it would simply not be revealing much about the lion to claim that its position on the scale of nature in the animal kingdom is equivalent to that of a king among men or the sun among the planets; in medieval times the conversation would be closed here without any space for questioning or clarifying.
The Renaissance and the Reformation
The process of modernising and opening up the workings of the closed system began with the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the voyages of exploration and discovery. Those living during the Renaissance had then possessed new knowledge or had new access to old sources. Many thinkers and intellectuals of the time believed themselves to be part of a movement that was making a significant break with the past to pave the way for a new era of modern knowledge. A process of secularising knowledge was started, prising it away from its basis in theology, and making the study of subjects such as science and mathematics a thing of value in its own right. In northern Europe the Reformers rejected the authority of the Church and instilled in believers the confidence to study the Word of God – and, by extension, His works – for themselves. Voyages of discovery finally made known the existence of new worlds entirely unsuspected by the ancients on earth, leading to the questioning of not only the value of geographical authorities but of other authorities as well.
Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo
The Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) completed his work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’). It represented the mature expression of an idea expressed earlier in a brief commentary, namely, that the sun was the centre of the universe and the earth and the other planets revolved around it. The work was published as a book in Frankfurt in 1543 by a Lutheran printer, shortly after Copernicus’s death.
Copernicus’s theory, if accepted, not only destroyed the old earth-centred system devised by Ptolemy, but also made obsolete all the analogies based on that cosmology. The new model however was accepted by few, not even by the popular Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), who himself contributed hugely to astronomy during the 16c through his observations of the stars and their movements. De Revolutionibus was banned by the Roman Catholic Church and remained so until 1835 [292 years].
The Copernican theory was however accepted by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a German mathematician and astronomer who was Tycho Brahe’s assistant and on his death succeeded him as the imperial mathematician and court astronomer in Prague. Intensive works on planetary orbits done by Kepler helped develop the theory further and provided it with a mathematical foundation. Kepler’s findings on the laws of planetary motion, published in Astronomia Nova (‘New Astronomy’) in 1609 and Harmonice Mundi (‘The Harmony of the World’) in 1619, formed an essential foundation for the later discoveries of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Further significant discoveries in optics, general physics and geometry was also made by Kepler. It may also be noted while considering the still fragile and transitional status of science in the 17c, that he was appointed as astrologer to Albrecht Wallenstein, the Catholic general who commanded the Thirty Years’ War. Newton too was a student of alchemy.
The Copernican theory was also accepted by Johannes Kepler’s (1571-1630) older Italian contemporary, Galileo, who first took issue with Aristotle while studying in Pisa. When he was made Professor of Mathematics there in 1589, he disproved Aristotle’s theory regarding the assumption that the speed of an object’s descent is proportional to its weight – a presentation he made to his students to demonstrate the phenomenon, by releasing objects varying in weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After his Aristotelian colleagues pressured him into giving up his professional chair, Galileo would make his way to Florence, by the same time he had also inferred the value of a pendulum for the exact measurement of time, created a hydrostatic balance, and written a treatise on specific gravity. From 1592 to 1610 when he was a Professor of Mathematics in Padua, Galileo modified and perfected the refracting telescope after learning of its invention in Holland in 1608 and used – a powerful tool denied to Copernicus and Tycho Brahe – to make remarkable discoveries, notably the four moons of Jupiter and the sunspots, which further confirmed his acknowledgement of the Copernican system which stated that the earth moved around the sun in an elliptical orbit, a system first formed in 1595. However Galileo’s daring conclusions at the time lead to conflicts not only with traditionalist academics, but also more seriously with the Church due to his writings when he was employed as the court mathematician in Florence in 1613. A warning from Cardinal Bellarmine in 1616 instructed the mathematician that his support of the Copernican system should be dropped as the belief in a moving Earth contradicted the Bible. After several years of excruciating silence, in 1632 he published Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del mondo (‘Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems’) in which, in the context of a discussion of the cycles of tides, he concluded with supporting Copernicus’s system of the solar system. The savage religious laws of the times saw Galileo compelled to abjure his position and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment – a sentence commuted immediately to house arrest. After abjuring he is believed to have murmured ‘eppur si muove’ (‘it does move nonetheless’).
The 16c saw major strides in all branches of science, the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) became one of the first scientists to dissect human cadavers. Based on his professional observations, he published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543, ‘On the Structure of the Human Body’), the very same year that Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus appeared. The anatomical principles of Galen were repudiated, and paved way for William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood, explained in a book in 1628. The works of Galileo however had not only had an impact on knowledge itself but on many other intellectuals such as Evangelista Torricelli (1608-47), the inventor of the barometer [a vital equipment for experimentation], and the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1693), the inventor of the pendulum clock, the discoverer of the polarisation of light and the first to put forward the idea of its wave nature
At the similar period, the Irish experimental philosopher and chemist, Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the formulator of ‘Boyle’s Law’, was studying the characteristics of air and vacuum by means of an air pump, created in partnership with his assistant Robert Hooke (1635-1703). The anti-scholastic ‘invisible college’ meetings of Oxford intellectuals, a precursor of the Royal Society, saw Boyle play an active part – his air pump became a powerful symbol of the ‘experimental philosophy’ promoted by the Royal Society since its founding in 1660. In 1662, Robert Hooke became the Royal Society’s first curator of experiments.
The Royal Society gradually provided a forum and focus for scientific discussions and a means of discussing scientific knowledge – its Philosophical Transactions became the first professional scientific journal. Together with other comparable institutions in other countries, such as the Académie des Sciences of Paris, founded in 1666, the systematisation of the scientific method and the way in which experiments and discoveries were reported were promoted. The importance of plain language in the detailed & systematic description of experiments for reproducibility was emphasised. The creation of prominent scientific associations also marked a cornerstone for the socio-cultural acceptance of science.
The Scientific Revolution’s culmination is believed to lie in the work of Isaac Newton, where his early mathematical studies led to the invention – simultaneously with Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) – of differential calculus. While focussing on the behaviour of light and prisms, he created the first reflecting telescope, a pivotal tool to the astrologers who followed. In 1684, Newton published his theory of gravitation, and in 1687 his famous Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’), which stated his three laws of motion, would become the founding stone of modern physics – unchallenged until the arrival of Einstein in the early 20c.
Most importantly, Newton’s universal law of gravitation not only explained the movements of the planets within the Copernican system but it even gave an explanation to such humble events as the fall of an apple from a tree. But more surprisingly, it never excluded God from the universe since all of Newton’s work was undertaken within the framework of a devout Christian, though his private beliefs were complex and heterodox.
By the time of his death in 1727, the scientific method was firmly established, and the thinkers, intellectual and writers of the Enlightenment acknowledged that an era had dawned where observation, experiment and the free application of human reason were the foundation of knowledge. In fusing science with culture and spreading knowledge through various themes and outlet of the discoveries made from previous centuries, the writers of the Enlightenment helped to firmly establish the prestige that science and its affiliates and practitioners have inherited and enjoyed down to the present day.
Part IV: Medicine
From the earliest times of human civilisation, all societies seem to have had a certain amount of knowledge of herbal remedies and to have practised some folk medicine. Most patients in the earliest days were treated with the objective of regaining the favour of the gods or to ‘release’ the evil from the body, therefore the cause of illness was believed to be rooted in supernatural causes. In early civilisations such as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, salves were used as part of medical practice which included divination to obtain a prognosis and incantation to help the sufferer. In the East, many commonly occurring diseases were documented by doctors in India and where they used some drugs still exploited by modern medicine; they also performed surgery that included skin graft. In some parts of the world, some societies banned the cutting of dead bodies due to religious beliefs and policies fused with the law. Unsurprisingly however, knowledge of physical anatomy was incredibly basic. Early Chinese society also banned the desecration of the dead and this resulted in Chinese concepts of physiology not being based on observational analysis. A developed medical tradition flourished in China however from the earliest times to the present day, with special focus placed on the pulse as means of diagnosis.
In Chinese medical philosophy, the objective is to balance the yin (the negative, dark, feminine, cold, passive element) and the yang (the positive, light, masculine, warm, active element), and the pharmacopoeia for achieving this: vegetable, animal and mineral. Similarly important is the practice of acupuncture, where needles are used to alter the flow of ch’i (energy) that is believed to travel along invisible channels in the body (meridians). Anaesthesia puts the efficacy of acupuncture to the test – being its most widespread use.
The sophistication of modernity in the West started to set a new course to medicine when it was partially rationalised by the Greek philosophers, since before this it was mainly an aspect of religion.
In ancient Greece for example, people suffering from illness would go to the god Asclepius’s temple for incubation – a sleep during which the god would visit in a dream which would then be interpreted by the priests to reveal the diagnosis or advice for the cure. Empedocles later came up with the idea that four elements exist – fire, air, earth and water, which when applied to the human body turned into blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile – which must obey certain rules to be maintained in harmonious balance. That concept was further reinforced when it was adopted by Aristotle (384-322BC) and remained a founding pillar of Western medicine until the new discoveries of the 18c. From the viewpoint of a biologist, Aristotle observed the world, performing dissections of animals and learning more of anatomy and embryology.
After his death, the main learning centre in Greece became Alexandria, where principles expounded by Hippocrates (c.460-c.377BC) were upheld and obsolete ideas such as illnesses caused by the gods were rejected, instead he made and raised a new school of thought where his diagnosis and prognosis were made after careful observation and consideration. Today, Hippocrates is regarded as the ‘father of medicine’, and sections of the oath attributed to him are still used in medical schools to this present day.
Galen (c.130-c201), a Greek doctor, was the next major and defining influence on Western medicine who studied at Alexandria and later went to Rome. Galen gathered up all the existing writings of Greek doctors, and emphasised on the importance of anatomy to medicine. He used apes to find out about the ways the body worked since dissection of human bodies were then illegal. Although his daring efforts were justified for medicine, his reports contained many mistakes on anatomical points which included the circulation of blood around the body, which he described instead to have ‘ebbed and flowed’.
Surprisingly, the point worth noting is that although the people then were living in the early times of human history, Rome had already developed an excellent culture with high regards for public health; more strikingly perhaps is also the fact that they even had clean drinking water, hospitals and sewage disposal – which was never developed or adopted by any civilisation until the 20c.
After the Roman Empire fell, the practice of medicine resided in the infirmaries of the monasteries. In the 12c century, medicine was developing as an important necessity in society from the lower to the upper end, and the first medical school was established at Salerno. Many other medical schools in Europe followed, namely: Bologna, Padua, Montpellier and Paris. Mondino dei Liucci (c.1270-1326) published the very first manual of anatomy after carrying out his own dissections in Bologna. The most major advancement in medicine however came from the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) who contributed through incredibly detailed sketches, descriptions and drawings published in 1543, correcting the errors of Galen. The Inquisition sentenced him to death for performing human dissections [once again an occasion where religious traditions came in the way of reason and research], however a new wave of inquisitive intellectuals had already surfaced abroad who could not be stopped.
A better and more precise knowledge of anatomy led to an improvement in techniques used in surgery, and surgeons, the long considered as inferior practitioners by physicians, began to be recognised as a major part in medicine and its procedures. The huge increase in the armies of Europe in the 16c and 17c created greater demands for effective surgery in the military departments. Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) reformed surgical practice in France, sealing and stopping the cauterising of wounds, while in the United Kingdom, more collectives of medicine intellectuals were formed which later became the College of Surgeons.
In 1628, the theory of the circulation of blood was formulated by William Harvey’s experiments in the 17c, which was reinforced by Marcello Malpighi’s work. However, it took more than a hundred years for medicine to fully understand the purpose of circulating blood up until Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), a French chemist discovered oxygen which has to be transported to various parts of the human body through blood. A new approach to obstetrics was also invented at that time, along with the growth of microscopal studies, and by the end of the 18c Europe was introduced to vaccines which helped to eradicate previously deadly diseases such as smallpox in the 20c.
In the 19c scientific research generated new knowledge about physiology and medicine saw refinements to aid diagnosis, such as the invention and introduction of the stethoscope and chest percussions. The field of bacteriology was also born out of the work of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) after the latter established the germ theory of disease transmission. This had a major impact and transformed safety for all patients, for example in the field of obstetrics where women had been dying regularly from puerperal fever before it was investigated to find out that doctors were transmitting bacteria from diseased patients to healthy ones. The first use of ether as a drug in the USA in 1846 and of chloroform in Scotland in 1847 made way for another major advance in surgery when their use as anaesthetic gases opened new doors to minute, longer and more complicated surgical sessions to be initiated.
The wave of cutting edge and precise research continued into the 19c with the recognition and detailed description of many conditions now available to medical education for the first time. Precautions were taken to halt the propagation of malaria and yellow fever after it was revealed that insect bites could transmit them.
At around the end of the 19c, the birth of psychology as the study of the ‘mind’ was taking place with Sigmund Freud’s work [See: Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution], and Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays along with Pierre and Marie Curie’s radium provided new diagnostic tools to medicine.
The 20c continued to flourish with progress when the haphazard discovery of bacteria-killing organism were made, most famously Alexander Fleming, the scottish Bacteriologist and Nobel prize winner who discovered Penicillin in 1928 and also served during the First World War in the Army Medical Corps. After qualifying with distinction in 1906, Fleming went straight into research at the University of London. One of the most important discoveries in medicine would eventually be made by a him in 1928 over a simple observation. Fleming observed that the mould that had accidentally developed on a set of culture dishes used to grow the staphylococci germ had also created a bacteria free circle around itself. After careful observation and research, the substance that repelled bacteria from the mould was named Penicillin. The drug would later only be developed further by two other scientists, Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, a refugee from Nazi Germany [all three shared the Nobel Prize in medicine]. Although the first supplies of Penicillin were limited, by the 1940s the pharmaceutical industry had made it a top priority and it was mass produced by the American drugs industry.
The era also spectated the growth of advanced technology and the further development of various forms of drug treatments, such as sulfonamides when they were discovered, followed by streptomycin, the first effective antibiotic against tuberculosis which was fatal until then similarly to diabetes which was also explored and treated with the discovery of insulin, thus halting its former reputation as deadly into a controllable condition – a new breed of surgeons are claiming to have found surgical methods to completely reverse the Type-2 Diabetes that affects most.
Typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough and polio were mostly eradicated in the West as the 20c was marked by improved public health services, living condition and nutrition along with well devised campaigns with the sound backing of science to promote immunisation campaigns for children. The West was also freed of diseases such as rickets and scurvy as new discoveries were made on the role and importance of vitamins which also led to the mitigation of beriberi in Africa and Asia early in the century.
Malaria, yellow fever and leprosy were also found to curable, and now that with all the advancement in medicine most people live longer in developed economies [at the exception of some that have mediocre policies due to their mediocre management system, e.g. politics], the chief causes of death nowadays have so far been cancer and heart disease.
Unleashing the power of genetics against cancer
Source: Cambridge University
In the field of cancer research, advancement in new therapies involving various techniques are now available and continuously being developed; with the most recent being the promising CRISPR, which involves using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, using a particular type of immune cell known as the T cell. The logic behind it explores the usual purpose of those T cells in the human body which involves surveying the body to seek out and destroy abnormal cells that have to potential to turn cancerous- detected by T cells due to the presence of strange proteins on their surface [signs that the T cell knows as ‘dangerous’]. Surprisingly cancer has evolved a cat-and-mouse game to evade T cells by developing the ability to ‘switch off’ any T cell that gets in their way, effectively blocking their healing attack. The most effective cancer therapies try to counteract this response by abnormal and cancerous cells by boosting the immune system.
CRISPR: the promising new cancer treatment
In 2015, a study used an older, less efficient gene engineering technique known as the ‘zinc finger’ which led to nucleases that give T cells better fighting ability against HIV – the therapy was well tolerated in a 12-person test group. A further study used reprogrammed T cells from multiple myeloma patients in the specific recognition of cancer cells which shrank the tumours initially while the T cells gradually withered and lost their ability to regenerate themselves – a common issue that new trials hope to solve in the near future. Perhaps one of the most unfortunate part of the story with CRISPR despite being a promising cell therapy is that it is often offered and used on patients with relapsing diseases. Other genes can also be ‘tweaked’ for the particular protein PD-1 with the CRISPR method that counter the problem of T cells losing their ‘intensive ability’ as these new tweaked genes help prolong the lifespan of the modified T cells while simultaneously enhancing their cancer fighting ability since the PD-1 protein sits on the surface of T-cells and helps dampen the activity of the cancer cells after an immune response [tumours found ways to hide by flipping the PD-1 switch themselves, thus drugs that block PD-1 from this immune suppression have been proven to be a promising immunotherapy cancer treatment]. Researchers are currently carrying intensive research to understand the deeper mechanics of CRISPR by removing T cells from patients of cancers that have stopped responding to normal treatments, and using a harmless virus, deliver the CRISPR machinery into the cells, and perform three gene edits on them. The first gene edit will insert a gene protein called the NY-ESO-1 receptor, a protein that equips T cells with an enhanced ability in locating, recognising and destroying cancerous cells [the NY-ESO-1 displaying tumour]. The T cells have a native trait that is unfortunately unsupportive in this process as it interferes with this process of added protein, so the second edit will be to remove these inhibitors so that the engineered protein will have more efficiency against cancer. The final and third edit gives the T cell longevity by removing the gene that allows recognition as a cancer suppressor by cancer cells that disable the PD-1 protein, thus countering its attack while remaining active due to the added guide RNAs which would tell the CRISPR’s DNA-snipping enzyme, Cas9, where exactly to cut the genome. However, since CRISPR is not always effective, not all cells will receive the genetic modification, thus making the engineered cells in the end, a mixture with various combinations of proposed changes to balance the reaction into the desired one. Only 3-4% may contain all three genetic edits. After the edits, the researchers would generally infuse all the edited cells back into patients and monitor for issues closely. One of the main concerns with CRISPR is that it may inadvertently snip other genes potentially creating new cancer genes or trigger existing ones, and these side effects are planned for monitoring by a team expected to measure the growth rate of engineered T cells and carry test for genomic abnormalities. However, the concluding outlook on CRISPR is very bright, in a pilot run carried out by using T cells from healthy donors, the researchers checked for 148 genes that could be snipped by mistake, and the only faulty cut that was detected was deemed as harmless. Another major concern is the fear of activating the body’s immune system against the engineered T cells since the enzyme Cas9 originates from bacteria and is essential for the cancer cutting process CRISPR relies on – although ways exist to prevent the immune system from destroying engineered Cas9 T cells, the possibility remains.
Gene therapy trials have suffered a recent setback with the death of the young patient Jessie Gelsinger during a trial. Further investigation revealed that some of the researchers failed to disclose the side effects observed in animals and some of the investigators had financial incentive for the trial to be a success. Extra precaution is being taken by UPenn who pioneered the treatment to ensure the smooth progression of medicine in genetics. As Stanford bioethicist Dr. Mildred Cho said, “Often we have to take a leap of faith.”
Cancer research and treatment on the whole has seen innovations in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a combination of the mentioned and the new promising method involving gene editing Cas9 based T cells with the CRISPR technique. All these together have and are increasing the prognosis for some sufferers, and in cardiology too, new treatments stunned the world, notably angiograms, open-heart surgery and heart transplants. The process of organ transplant has gradually been extended to lungs, livers and kidneys, and artificial joints for the hips and knees have also been improved.
Further education on family planning has been available and constantly updated since the 1960s where methods of contraception had first been marketed to the wider public [such as the oral contraceptive pill for women]. The controversial act of abortion too with the scientific legitimacy was made safer and legalised in many developing economies and at the other end of the scale couples unable to conceive benefited of fertility drugs and in vitro fertilisation provided many with the choice of starting a family.
With the growing discoveries and nearly godly feats of medicine, public perception of the field also changed and many soon started to entertain the belief that a cure exists for every ill. Unfortunately this is not true, as many complicated diseases such as cancer continue to defy knowledge and scientific research and new diseases and complications continue to emerge such as Ebola, HIV and antibiotic resistance. The constant struggle for 3rd world economies to keep up with medical cost has also led to major culturally destructive waves of migration that have very quickly turned out to be unsustainable for most major Western economies along with the religious and socio-cultural clashes being a constant topic of debate in most educated circles and the connected alternate media alike across Europe [to counter some of the extreme liberal & atavistic views promoted by the mainstream media fuelled by ruthless & scrupulous globalists].
The economic grip of pharmaceutical companies on the world’s economy has been a central issue for many concerned scientists and intellectuals of the times constantly questioning the responsibility of funding and providing cutting edge and hygienic health services for the people; while on the other hand other controversial but vital access to organs for transplantation have caused major social debates regarding the future cultural behaviour regarding the organs of the dead and the provision of a constant supply of fresh organs for the Western economies’ major health requirements.
While the Western model of medicine is the most effective, researched, respected and taught on earth, other sub disciplines of medicine that many medical empiricists consider to be complete lies continue to prosper at a medium scale for a surprisingly constant demand for folk and herbal medicines. In the urban areas of non-Western societies the trend is at a larger scale since Western medicine has still not made a significant impact to the adepts of traditional practices. Medically unproven and scientifically void practices such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, auto-suggestion, homoeopathy, osteopathy and hydrotherapy still exist in the West under the classification of ‘complementary medicine’ where many of the practitioners do not require any degree or certificate to ‘practice’ [a documentary by Dr. Richard Dawkins was aired on the BBC on this topic]. Most of those treatments that have no scientific grounding somehow all have long histories, and a chosen few such as acupuncture, have been fused into Western orthodox medical practice in countries such as the UK.
Part V: Secularisation
Secularisation may be defined as the process of change where authority passes from a religious source to a secular one. This may turn into an issue or a need only where religion and the religious have gained considerable power or a dominant position in society and penetrate all aspects of life, including the government. For instance, in ancient Greece and Rome, religion does not seem to have ever dominated the state. The main religious officers was shared by the same men who held political office [religion may have been seen as simply a part of national culture]. While virtue consisted of piety and observance to the gods were expected, religion was rarely a primary focus for society. Furthermore, polytheism provided flexibility to the system as new gods and goddesses would be added to the pantheon to accommodate local cults, and an individual would have the freedom to choose a deity as his or her special patron. However, prudence demanded that other divinities not be neglected, and none of this was of major concern to the state.
Yet, as the petty logic of majority in many cases comes into conflict with strategy, the great monotheistic proselytising religions of Christianity and Islam saw a great rise and the situation and relationship with the state started to change. Now, as a matter of righteousness and justification as a moral authority, the state had to go with the religious beliefs that ruled most of the West. This led to the state having to ensure salvation, which became the founding pillar of ‘right religion’. Consequently, this acceptance and spread led to the increased power and influence of Christian kings who with them emerged a body of clerical men who claimed to exercise the spiritual ministry of the most almighty of beings, God, on earth. This led to large amounts of money, land and property being donated by individuals, organisations and Christian rulers to the Church in the hope of maintaining a good relationship and being protected. This also increased the overall influence of the power of the Church which however owed so much to the Crown in terms of donations and freedom that they gradually tended to act as its propagandists and servants. The term and principle of ‘Caesaropapism’ was accepted by the Church in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which simply proved their acceptance of subordination to an Emperor who was thought of as an ambassador of divine authority on earth. However, this claim of a supreme imperial being at the top of the religious scale soon led to conflicts with the popes of the West who were unhappy with such imposition in regards to their contribution to the works of God and soon, conflicts began between the sovereigns and the papacy over the limits and jurisdiction of royal and papal power – both, of course claiming to be guided by the divine mandate.
Perhaps one of the most famous of these clashes happened between Henry II of England and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. At that time the Church’s power may have been at its peak, during the pontificate of Innocent III, who claimed that the Holy Roman Emperor was subordinate to him. Later, Innocent III pushed for Emperor Otto IV to be deposed, forced Philip II of France into reinstating his divorced second wife, Ingeborg of Denmark. He also placed England under an interdict, and had King John (Lackland) excommunicated to be able to secure the office of Archbishop of Canterbury for his candidate, Stephen Langton. Those clashes of power and interest saw a decrease however, when in the following years the papacy was in dire need of royal help to defeat the Conciliar Movement – a movement in Western Europe in the 14c and 15c of the Roman Catholic Church which believed that final authority in spiritual matters resided with the Church as a company of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not solely with the Pope [a movement started by Pope Innocent III and is still used today in France].
In other civilisations in the Middle-East, such as in Islamic territory that obeyed the laws of Islam’s sharia, conflicts between the professional religious classes and the rulers tended to be avoided since Islam has no priesthood. Religion and state were unified in the pursuit of what the Quran and the life of Muhammad qualified as the ‘pursuit of Islamic righteousness’. This however includes violent subjugation of all non-Muslims, oppression of women, obsolete traditions in direct conflict with modern human rights in all modern Western nations in relation to restrictions to women and indoctrination of violent political ideologies that are connected to the political teachings of Muhammad, mostly found in the sharia. Thus, the constant links between extremist groups promoting violence and major governments in the Middle-East with Islam as the main religious faith are a constant topic among cultured circles. Most Muslims however are similar in many ways, even on the borders of Europe, in Turkey similar to Saudi Arabia, most adhere and believe in the same ideology that Islam and the Sharia promotes and teaches, unsurprisingly many Islamic scholars too have turned out to have very dangerous views on Islam’s war on non-Islamic civilisations and non-Muslims. The Caliph claim was made in Istanbul by the Ottoman Sultan, or supreme head of all Sunni Muslims (Sunnis). The Shia form of Islam (Shiites) was ultimately associated and identified with the Safavid Sultans in Iran.
In Tibet, where Buddhism had been flourishing, monastic donations and a huge increase in the number of dedicated monks subsequently gave monastic cultural leaders who were regarded as the incarnations of the Buddha, such as the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, ruling powers in their country. In China and Japan situations differed, as instead, religious beliefs tended to reinforce loyalty to the ruler; in China for example, Buddhism, and more particularly, Confucianism, taught civic virtues which were also taught by Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.
When the payments of annates to Rome was abolished by Henry VIII of England as he denied the authority of the pope upon proclaiming himself supreme head of the Church of England (1534) to further supress the monasteries, the new King was simply carrying to extremes the true traditions of his predecessors across Europe. Divine Right Kingship, that was what Henry’s Reformation was essentially, an assertion of complete power and trust in his legitimacy as an extension of God’s ministry. It is worthy to note that Henry VIII would deal as harshly as advocates of Lutheranism as with those who supported the pope as he had no doctrinal differences with Rome, he simply believed in the King as the only vice-regent of God on earth. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation revived the influence and power of religion in the domestic and international socio-cultural debates of the Western world, and for the time, turning the concept of a purely ‘secular’ power completely unconceivable and unthinkable. Yet, as the years went by the intended and expected clashes reached unprecedented heights as a result of competition between religious factions.
The wars that religion brought to humankind
In the Western Christian world, the wars of religion quickly turned into a common phenomenon or justification to shed blood and die for, and they were all based on the firm religious belief that the opposing religious civilisation had no claim to existence and even more importantly should not have any jurisdiction let alone religious or cultural control over some very specific geographical points, as these were believed to have specific powers that could be manipulated for socio-cultural advantages, for example, the ‘crusade’ against the Albigenses in Southern France was simply justified as the French crown simply trying to extend its power. The movements known to most historians as ‘The Crusades’ were in fact directed against the Islamic Middle East who had been subjugating Western Europe & Christians for hundreds of years through deadly wars where many Christian women were raped, tortured and turned into sexual slaves while many Christian leaders were beheaded others forced into Islam. Religious motives in 16c and 17c even led to violence against fellow Western Christians, and as the years went wars were endless, reaching lethal genocidal levels where whole civilisations were wiped out – the remaining joining, converting to or being enslaved by the dominant [a seemingly ruthless spectacle where the cycle of evolution may have simply been the driving force among societies who were less sophisticated and more primal – or in touch with their aggressive instincts in matters of survival and conquest].
Even with all the death in the name of religion, societal events did not persuade the current societies to perceive a possible atheistic lifestyle or system; and this endured even late in the 17c. However, private and secret groups such as ‘The Family of Love’ (of whose members many were close to Philip II of Spain, a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation) had started to spread the seeds of doubts over the particular motive and purpose of having to identity state power and dogmatic religious beliefs and traditions.
An Enlightened, educated and revolutionary civilisation
The only faith with intellectuals who stood with reason without showing any preference for any other school of thought, particularly religious ones, were Christians of the Western world in Europe and it began in the 18c where the term secularisation could only be discussed in European-derived state systems. The practice of secularisation started by individuals who originally came from different schools of thought and were seeking to be guided by a more stable doctrine than religion or traditions. Others like Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, were dedicated Christians who disagreed with the state being the authority for moral policing or to conscience regulation [quite a perceptive stance judging the questionable reputation and credibility – in terms of morals and ethics – of practitioners of the obsolete discipline that is today still termed ‘politics’]. Even more curiously, the reasoning and avant-garde [at the time] clergy of the Church of Scotland agreed, and set their focus on the barbaric violence of the 17c religious wars as a blasphemous parody of Christianity. Furthermore, the growing movement fuelled and guided by the scientific and intellectual developments of the late 17c and the spirit of the Enlightenment remained sceptical about religion and its revelations, even Voltaire was a deist.
The Cult of Reason was further sponsored as a replacement for Christianity when the Jacobins under Robespierre came to power in France, suggesting that the Gregorian calendar be replaced by a revolutionary and republican one where the year 1783 would be the Year 1. As the era developed, the first ‘secular’ state in the Christian West became the federal government of the USA after 1783, a reason somehow that may have been more due to the lack of options as the foundation of the society in the states was mainly composed of immigrants deeply divided by religion where many were persecuted and faced death in the countries they were escaping from who back in those times had no peace keeping military conventions to protect or sanction the State on the grounds of human rights.
Corruption at the top was also very much present as it still is today in politics in most non-Western societies, especially in Islamic territory where many States are strictly combined with the doctrines of Islam and its violent religious law, sharia, leading to many cases of State connections to extremist terrorists operating under the guise of Islam to protect and propagate the Islamic way of life and eventually subjugate all non-Muslims[with techniques used to abuse diplomacy and the dangerous concept of ‘political correctness’ to slowly infiltrate the law and system of other Western economies to prepare and push for Islamic doctrines to be applied on Western soil]. A situation getting worse today, as obsolete politicians lack the knowledge and education to understand and cope with the techniques of Political Islam which has long been the topic of Dr. Bill Warner’s work – to protect and prevent the atavistic and dangerous Islamisation of the West.
Logically, it seems obvious to most that 3rd world traditions would clash with First World values and individualism and today, many intellectuals and growing movements are beginning to support the complete separation of religious traditions and cultures through geographical relocation and diplomatic arrangement between States of various nations to work on solutions at the source and on location and completely stop the unsustainable and clearly abused systems of refugee relocation as Western societies are at their limits with major socio-cultural clashes and disruptions to First world national communities sparking major concerns over the security of women, children and the vulnerable older people faced with 3rd world migrants with a completely different school of thought, crowding many Western cities and locations where the never-ending clash of values, education, philosophy, language and culture seem to leave authorities contemplating at the only solution that may come with radical policies to preserve the socio-cultural make up and identity of their nations in the face of a destabilizing overgrowth of population from African and the 3rd world Islamic territories and the failure of Western States to adopt appropriate and if necessary tough measures to alleviate and balance the situation while securing their own systems and providing security for their people against socio-economic and cultural degradation.
After the final defeat of Napoleon I at the end of the 18c, the conservative climate that followed led to the Catholic Church regaining a lot of credibility that it had lost and the identification and association of Church and State was seen by many intellectuals and movements of the Enlightenment as a bulwark against freedom and revolution. This resulted to the developing climate where bourgeois liberalism rose due to its tendency towards anticlericalism and its strong belief in a new system with a secular state with no sectarian affiliations, based on the US federal model.
France saw the growing clashes over education between Church and State similar to most major Christian Western nations throughout the 19c. In 1829, the Test Act of 1673 was repealed, now not requiring holders of public office [including military officers and elected regional representatives in Parliament] to be active members of the Church of England. Eventually, reason also won in France where education became ‘compulsory, free and secular’ under the Third Republic after a series of acts passed between 1878 and 1886 with Jules Ferry as the main agitator to spearhead the change. Other economies in South America such as Mexico, with an established and influential colonial Church saw that post-independence liberal views tended to demand secularisation of the State.
As the 19c century was ending, secularism and anticlericalism grew in strength and supporters in many nations of the modern world spectated a rise of different branches of « Socialist » influenced movements.
For example, the late American George L. Rockwell initiated a National Socialist movement in the US, and even gave some brave speeches about Jews and Negroes at Brown University & embraced the derogatory term « NAZI » for its shock value. Although the American agitator clearly drifted far from the refined version of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism, which initially emphasised strong moral/ethical philosophies, shared communal values at every level of society & synchronised psychosocial unity, Rockwell’s version of National Socialism seemed more appropriately adjusted to the industrialised society of America, focusing on the identity of the average hardworking American citizen and his/her relationship to the unscrupulous economic model that is at the foundation of the « Wild West », i.e. the USA.
Rockwell remains one of the only US public figures to have proposed a straightforward, practical & ethical direction in finding a harmonious solution to the Negro population problems affecting the US (which is now along with other foreign populations growing faster than the original white US population). George Lincoln Rockwell‘s vision matched that of the prominent visionary & avant-garde Black nationalist, Marcus M. Garvey, who founded the Pan-Africanism movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League (ACL).
Garvey also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African people to their ancestral lands. « Garveyism » wanted all people of Black African ancestry to « redeem » the nations of Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave the African continent. Marcus Garvey’s essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in « Negro World » entitled « African Fundamentalism« , where he wrote: « Our [negroes] union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… »
Darwinism and National Socialism gave society an explanation of human rights and human history, and a model for progress where religion was not vital [but optional] and thus not a major concern. In France, the Dreyfus Affair united all the radical progressive elements and the leftist movements in French society against the then major section of the Right: the Catholic Right. The separation of Church and State finally happened in 1905.
During the USSR right after the Russian Revolution, the development of socialist-inspired secularism could be seen in their secular state; however, the lack of vision, philosophy and fine management eventually led to its downfall.
One of the most innovative and stunning secular changes in the Muslim world came from Turkey’s founder who believed in secular western systematisation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who in a revolutionary wave abolished the Sultanate and in 1924 abolished the office of the Caliph, the former spiritual head of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk continued this avant-garde wave of secular changes by closing down all religious schools in Istanbul, and removed the Minister for Religion from the cabinet. Even more confidently, among the changes the modern and westernising founder made was the repealing of the provision in Turkish constitution that made Islam the state religion. From then, deputies would cease to take oaths in the name of Allah, but instead made a secular affirmation. However today with Turkish national representatives such as Recep Erdogan, the forward-thinking, productive and modernising changes of Ataturk have all been reversed and ruined by Erdogan’s atavistic policies that are oriented towards the Islamisation of the whole system and has even been linked and found to be unresponsive towards major anti-Western Islamic Jihadists who spread terror and violence across Western societies without any disregard for children. The retrograde and deluded Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has also played a major part in the Islamisation of Western Europe by successfully being manipulated by Islamic territories’ humanitarian departments to take in excessive numbers of Muslim refugees [by the millions] for resettlement which have mainly been healthy Muslim males with no other objectives but to find support on the welfare systems of the West while also contributing in the Islamic doctrines that promote migration [hijra] in the name of Allah for the process of Jihad [which is a process that involves multiple techniques to subjugate all non-Muslim societies to gradually allow Islam’s doctrines to take over], in the ongoing war for the Islamisation of the West. This continued clash of values makes the secularisation of Turkey by Ataturk particularly striking since Islam’s ideologies continue to control most indoctrinated minds in the vast Islamic territory that continues to promote 3rd world ideologies and show firm stance against secularisation in Muslim countries and perhaps even more shockingly, in some parts of the West where urban and uncultured low-skilled Muslim communities have amassed – a known recruiting field for many extremist Middle-East groups such as ISIS [Daech, Islamic State] and a known breeding place for rapists who in many cases justify their heinous acts as religiously valid, being the teachings of Muhammad on the treatment of non-Muslims, who are deemed spiritually ‘inferior’ beings similarly to the teachings of Judaism where all non-Jews are believed to be inferior, destined to serve the Jewry and are completely disposable, perhaps more shockingly: non-Jews should even be killed. These two 3rd world religions have doctrines of behaviour towards other groups that are rooted in hate and violence. Hence, the early expulsion of the Jewish communities globally much before the Nazi regime or any of its founders were even born. A practice known as holocaust done in the name of the Jewish god Baal, involved sacrificing young male babies was hated by many non-Jewish intellectuals and societies throughout Western history. However, today the atavistic process that should have been inexistent or even annihilated, is ironically happening to modern societies at the verge of being completely secularised after their independence such as in the West: the process of Islamisation. Islamisation of the West which was founded and evolved on Christian values, and famous deist intellectuals such as Voltaire who placed reason before irrational claims of God [although not denying the existence of powers that may be Godly], are being forced into accepting millions of Muslim refugees known to be part of the process of Islamisation linked to major extremist and pro-Muslim association such as the Muslim Brotherhood [a group heavily linked with Barack Obama] who have links to the extreme left leaning seats in the United Nations. These dangerous extreme-left [not socialist] movements with religious affiliations have been finding ways to loosen the security of the West’s defence to infiltrate the ideologies of Islam through the process of cultural Jihad, which involves using techniques such as diplomacy, and twisting arms with the unscrupulous use of ‘political correctness’ to further the purpose of Islam, aided by the act of Taqqiya, which is promoted by Islamic ideology to deceive, lie and act in whatever way it may be required to promote Islam and eventually subjugate non-Islamic societies.
One of the most recent example of complete Islamisation is Iran in 1979 where the overthrow of Shad Muhammad Reza Pahlavi ushered in an Islamic republic. This seemingly Islamic ‘success’ in the Iranian Revolution led to Islamic Fundamentalists in other undeveloped economies such as Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria to believe in their possible future, already being part of economies where governments make concessions to religious militants as they both are supporters of the ideology of Islam.
In some countries, many Islamic terrorists have justified their acts as populist alternatives to what they perceive as corrupt, dictatorial regimes that lack compassion and righteousness. Others have questioned righteousness from the perspective of Islamic ideologies that involve beheading, mass terror and other inhuman practices on non-Muslims in the name of Allah as the teachings of Muhammad, a controversial prophet who consummated a marriage to a 6-year old when the latter was nine [even the practice and promotion of what most Western minds would perceive as paedophilia has seen a near complete silence from most authorities in the west for fear of repercussions such as accusations of racism, lack of political correctness or xenophobia, all forms of speech suppression that have started to raise more voices among many people who believe that Islamisation is incompatible, dangerous and unsustainable – massive causes of systematic socio-cultural and economic degradation].
In order to move towards a system of management that includes government to replace the obsolete concept of politics and reinstate credibility in decision making based on reason and science, balanced with the right philosophy to fit the appropriate expectations at a given time, the mainstream mind set will have to accept reason as a more fitting compass to guide a civilised society instead of religion.
Although most [mentally sound individuals] should have the freedom to choose where to place their faith [religion, science, philosophy, etc], secularisation would at least ensure that the state balances its priorities appropriately without discriminating those who should be prioritised.
The State may initiate a workable but firm control over the appropriate influx of immigrants by specific religious groups to maintain and not discriminate the national cultural identity of the foundation [religion would simply be a part of culture and not a reigning authority synthesised with most departments of the state] while adapting to changes that socio-cultural economic developments and research lead to [however careful consideration over the purpose and benefits must remain of vital importance and focus].
As the system of democracy still gives voices to the masses, it is also fair noting that majority votes do not decide or confirm the degree of righteousness in a particular thought or decision. In fact, majority debates in choice simply conclude the general ‘views on a specific topic’ of a particular group of human organisms from a particular geographical location on earth. In cases such as medicine, physics, chemistry and other science based studies majority votes lead to and mean nothing, in those disciplines only reason wins, with the conclusion based on logic. Certainly what a perfect secular state may include could be a decision making department that bases every decision based on the required concept that applies to it, i.e. for e.g. matters of professional disciplines could be approved by the required boards of professionals (by their field), and decisions on socio-cultural matters would benefit from public opinion, further matters of economy would be supervised by the board of economy, etc, and this may eventually lead to a system that relies on only democratic values and management, and hardly any politics [if regional representatives by area could have a better description].
The USA’s secular government has so far demonstrated to be far from perfect with major differences in opinion on a range of issues regarding military ethics during World War 2 where Eisenhower sadistically allowed thousands of Germans to die in starvation in his very own ‘death camps’, and other claims of secrecy with Churchill & Stalin in a German boycott along with the ongoing national socio-cultural conflicts with the Islamisation of the USA by the Obama regime – open promoters of Muslims and Islam in the West. The deistic Founding Fathers of the USA’s secular government would definitely be surprised at the influence of orthodox, evangelical Christianity of various kinds in the modern but over-liberal republic. Although it may if appropriate to consider the fact that secular states will somehow forever have religious roots, and while some may not be practising Christians, most of Western literature are full of biblical references. Major festivities such as Christmas have turned into a symbol of celebration and gifts for Western societies more than a religious observance, and it unites and benefits more than only Christians in many major societies of the West – especially economically for most businesses.
Secularisation in everyday life in an increasingly post-Christian Europe
Nowadays most educated societies in the developed nations of the West are partially entrapped in the global economy and a great section of the people have looked for alternative context for their life, alternative ways to make rites of passage and more importantly other doctrines to be cultured and guided by, and the importance of religious dimensions in public and private life today has decreased considerably.
Major changes in Britain saw the 1836 Marriage Act which for the first time allowed marriages to be solemnised in Britain by other practices besides a religious ceremony. On 1 July 1837, six hundred district offices opened as the act came into force along with an ongoing set of necessary changes. By 1857, divorce was obtainable in the UK by other means than the Act of Parliament – although not easily and only when requested by husbands. These changes along with the liberalised attitude on legislations such as abortion has long been opposed by the Church however, especially in Catholic countries. Nowadays, the growing number of people relying less on religion as guide is ever increasing, notably in developed economies with decent education systems supported by the newly developed Internet of Tim Berners-Lee since the early 1990s. Thus, the knowledge of science has become more widespread, along with its application to modern culture – leading to a new orthodoxy.
The triumphs of technology have also made life for the secular minds fairly comfortable and safe in the developed world [although a lot of work remains to be done at the systematic level regarding economic policies, socio-cultural and philosophical beliefs and directions in some atavistic States of the West to counter the now dangerously increasing waves of Islamisation].
Perhaps a painful reality to most of those raised in a sophisticated science-oriented philosophical circle, or tutored with a conservative education but a liberal outlook from the West or Western derived systems, or in the ever more secular societies of the UK, France and Western Europe, is that so far we are the ‘minority’ and are seen as an ‘exception’ when compared with the majority in terms of humans living on earth globally.
That may send visions of the inundation of migrants from poorly managed nations of the 3rd world Middle-East and Africa who also play a major part on the low socio-economic birth rate explosion and consequent socio-cultural burden on global humanitarian budgets expected to cause major economic and socio-cultural unrest for the West in the coming future if situations do not change. Sadly for the secular intellectuals today is the fact that in most lesser developed societies of the world, the great religions, the smaller ones, and a series of traditional beliefs [some as illogical and ridiculous to reason or intelligence] continue to give a reason to live and subsequently meaning to the lives of many communities who are born and live in a completely different psycho-social reality fused with religious beliefs of ancient cultures [specially in the 3rd world and/or Islamic territories].
The progressive & ethical solution to deal with the alarming situation
Since, engineering environmentally also applies to the human organism, maximising the potential of humans according to their best environmental (socio-cultural) fit would seem like the most globally progressive philosophy. However, engineering our planet in terms of human abilities would also side with relocating populations to alleviate their own stress caused by incompatibility in terms of culture, language, identity and skills – a process that goes in line with evolutionary logic, but also fosters a harmonious human ecosystem with less tension, thus less stress [mental health & health].
Cooperation on matters beneficial for both states would be achieved from synchronised work from respective locations [e.g. nature, environment, climate change, business, etc]. This would alleviate systems that lack stability due to massive population imbalance and socio-cultural conflicts caused majorly by uncontrolled geographical shifts and the birth rates that follow, leading to ‘organisms’ [from an objective perspective] that do not ‘identify’ with the system that they were born into, but see themselves as part of an ‘external system and its school of thought’, who mostly earn and live to promote the latter system and flood the current one with further external and incompatible organisms.
This continuous unregulated & unsustainable process of mass-migration & mass low-SES births add to the ongoing burden of socio-cultural conflict and economic degradation due to the sole motivating factor being foreign interest [mostly 3rd world & developing economies] in economic resources from Western systems while remaining ‘foreign’ and indifferent to public/civic expectations socio-culturally [due to a lack of linguistic proficiency and other low-SES complications such as quality education, linguistic acculturation, etc]. Such issues in uncontrollable amounts that reflect in most aspects of a society have shown to lead to systemic instability, fragmentation and low social-cohesion mostly linked to differences in belief systems created by heritage or indoctrination of beliefs from incompatible systems through exposure.
Once more, from an objective perspective and through the humble logic of observation, any system from any part of the world would face degradation with excessive sections of their population not focused in contributing in its protection, promotion, strength and stability – a simple matter of factual reasoning, an e.g. of such a statement would be « If an egg is released from a metre on hard floor, it will fall and break. ». With geographical engineering, it seems to simply be a matter of re-assessing and replacing ‘organic units’ with ones that are reliable in terms of stability, compatibility and long term development [experience] – a clear example of progressive innovation. A simple case of synthesising the knowledge gained from science and applying its philosophy to prevent further catastrophes while correcting the dangerous path of the present.
Reflections: History and Heritage
On the question of heritage like history, it still appears that the uninformed majority still misunderstand the terms. History is a written parcours of events in human legacy and its evolution, and it is to be continuously worked on and written in the present – not simply a theatrical recreation of the past to remain its prisoner – rather, we should keep following the course of the multi-faceted process of evolution. As for heritage, it is the psychological mechanism [cognitive system] embedded environmentally [with possible neuro-genetic influences] in the individual in the form of language(s), values, philosophy, speech, education, arts, behaviour and expression.
Mis à jour le Dimanche, 28 Juillet 2019 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com
Lenman, B. and Marsden, H. (2005). Chambers dictionary of world history. Edinburgh: Chambers.
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