False Dichotomies

The rationalist error and culture of literalism in the West creates a number of false dichotomies.  One of the most famous and controversial is the Creation/Evolution debate between religion and modern science.  To an essentialist, both sides of this debate are in error, and the heated arguments between adherents of these two camps become a bit silly.  There are, of course, shades of grey with respect to the two belief systems, and few actually subscribe to the hardest versions of the two sides.  That being said, the strictest adherents of these camps argue as follows:

 

Creationist Thought:  The Christian version of Creationism begins with a belief that the Judeo-Christian written Tradition, the Bible, is literally true and historical.  The world we live on was created about 6,000 years ago.  The heavens and earth were created in 6 days according to the Judeo-Christian Creation Story, and we can trace back the age of the earth through the genealogy asrecorded in Genesis.  Adam and Eve were historical figures that lived on this world in physical form and were tempted into disobedience against God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden, which was a physical place on this earth.  There are those in this camp that hold that this version of how we came to be is the basis for their faith, that because they believe in God, the Judeo-Christian written Tradition must be historical and literal.

Now, as I said before, this is only the most extreme version of this belief system.  There are also more moderate versions which take the story regarding the age of the earth as symbolic rather than literal.  That being said, there is a tremendous amount of ink spilled and research dollars spent to research the historical accuracy of stories from the Judeo-Christian Tradition, so I would posit that the literalist viewpoint pervades even moderate Christian thinking.

Evolutionist Thought:  The earth that we live in is countless billion years old and formed by chance from random elements that were left over from a supernova countless more billion years ago, which also happened by chance.  Somehow a random group of amino acids formed together to make proteins which randomly became single celled organisms.  These organisms evolved from these single celled organisms to complex forms of life like human beings through a process of mutation and natural selection for traits that had greater survival value.  This belief system promotes a value system of “survival of the fittest” and that the weak perish so that the strongest survive.  There are those in this camp that hold that the physical evidence that has been found to support this belief system proves that God does not exist, particularly as they believe that they have disproved the story of creation as told in the Judeo-Christian written Tradition.

Of course, again, this is the extreme viewpoint.  Most who believe in evolution do not take the research as a conclusion that God was not involved in our formation or is non-existent.  Still, this viewpoint is what is mostly taught in our culture, and one must subscribe to it, at least in part, to be taken seriously in most Western academic circles.

To an essentialist, both of these camps are in error, and this is a false dichotomy.  To begin with, essentialist thought does not hold that a religious tradition must be historical and literal to be Truth.  In fact, Truth, to be Truth, cannot be historical and cannot be based in space and time.  Space and time belong to the world of flux and change, and therefore, are by nature illusion.  Truth is found beyond space and time and beyond the world of flux and change.  In essentialist thought, we are not our bodies; our souls inhabit a physical form in this place and time.  Our souls have been around from the beginning of time, long before they entered the physical bodies they may currently be in, and our souls will return to their Source at the end of time.  The mechanism by which our physical bodies were formed is immaterial to the nature of our souls or to whether or not our physical bodies were formed in the mind of God from a Sacred Archetype.  The question of how God formed our bodies, whether creating them out of the dust all at once, whether growing them from the seed of a single celled organism, or whether there was some other mechanism involved, may be interesting but tells us nothing about the Truth beyond physicality and beyond space and time.  We can read both the Sacred Tradition and observe the Natural World to speculate as to how our physical bodies were formed, but that tells us nothing about Truth.

This error on the part of both the very conservative and so-called progressive modern thinkers is the basis for the criticism of the practice of astrology by both of these camps.  The very conservative will say that they do not believe in the practice of astrology because they “follow the will of God, not the stars.”  The progressive will state all of the scientific observations of astronomy to point out the superstitions of the primitive humans were in error.  They also will criticize those who believe that their lives are controlled by the stars.

Both sides miss the point.  Even in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is written, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.”  In all traditional religions, the study of the stars and the planetary bodies marked times for religious festivals and for all human activity.  The stars were seen as signs given to us by the Divine, not as actors in and of themselves.

The “scientific” world-view also mistakes the nature of astrology as the study of how the planets act upon us.  Modern astrology has also followed this error in ascribing meaning to heavenly bodies, such as asteroids and the like, which are not a part of the sacred tradition.  This error also plays a role in the meanings ascribed to the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, but this is another topic for another day.

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