Beware, curious person thinking in public.
I think the tipping point this time around on the spiritual spiral was the intro to the first chapter of Joe Campbell’s Myths to Live By. Goddess, I love old Joe. He believed that if the ground your standing on isn’t sacred to you, you probably won’t find sacred ground by traveling half way around the world.
He describes a conversation overheard in a New York eatery between a boy about twelve or so and his mother that ran something like this with Joe’s comments in parentheses. (mine not his)
“Jimmy wrote a paper today on the evolution of man and Teacher said he was wrong, that Adam and Ever were our first parents.”
(My Lord, I thought, what a teacher.)
From the adult, presumably the mom: “Well, teacher was right. Adam and Eve were our first parents.
(What a mother for a twentieth century child)
From the kid “Yes, but this was a scientific paper.”
(And for that I was ready to recommend him for a distinguished service medal from the Smithsonian)
And this is so familiar: mom’s retort? “Oh, those scientists! Those are only theories.”
And the kids’ retort? “…….they found the bones.” I wonder if the adults around this kid ever managed to convince him that what he thought was proof was actually a demon trying to trip him up.
When Antiochus, the Greek influenced ruler of Palestine, tried to outlaw the Jewish faith in the second century BCE he ignited a firestorm of rebellion. Problem is that when the rebels threw out the Greek bathwater they threw out the baby of Greek science and research. The scripture and mythology that was codified and became the basis of Christian scripture were the old Babylonian and Persian stories with their seven days of creation, conflicting creation myths, great floods, centuries long life spans and tales of bloody invasions and burning cities.
By the second century BCE a Greek named Aristarchus had already deduced that the earth was a sphere revolving around the sun. Another Greek, Eritosthnes, working in Alexandria had calculated the circumference of the earth to within a few hundred miles. Not bad for a scholar who paid someone to pace off the distance from Alexandria to a village on the equator called Syene and worked out the numbers with basic Egyptian geometry; sticks, strings and a brain. And still another Greek, Hipparchus had calculated both the size of the moon and its approximate distance from the earth. Hipparchus also created the first star charts with fairly accurate calculations of stellar magnitude.
Frankly I don’t think there was ever a chance to meld Greek experimental philosophy with early Christian philosophy. Part of the problem lay with the Greeks themselves. What started with hands on experimentation and Socrates infuriating questions morphed into the “don’t get your hands dirty; we can understand the world by thinking about it” philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Unite that with some early Christian bishops who advised their priests to discourage their flocks from asking questions about the faith for fear of weakening their faith and frankly I believe you finally end up with……well what we’re stuck with now.
Any chance that thoughtful, inquiring Christians might get together with thoughtful, inquiring Pagans ended when Justinian closed their academies and outlawed the rites and festivals of the old religion.