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Disenchanting the World

Contemporary disaffection for rapid change and the dubious fruits of technology fuels a return to religious and spiritual beliefs and conservative values. But religion and tradition cannot effectively re-enchant the world. They represent, rather, the same remove from nature that motivates technology. Theology may provide security in a fixed system of beliefs; but it will be an impoverished system because of its very fixity, offering only a precarious security. The wonder and awe for which people pine in the mechanized world derive from the vastness of the natural world and the open horizon of consciousness; they cannot be rekindled in claustrophobic systems of thought. While any religion is far more reductionist (and fatalist) than the 19th-century scientific determinism from which we are beginning to recover, the modern program of science still includes the idealist article of faith that physical reality is, in principle, exhaustible by human thought—or by superhuman computation. It is the faith that Man, or his spiritual descendants, will one day know and control everything, and that the shallow values of the modernist aberration will spread over this planet and beyond. This is the sound of idealist monologue, of no one listening because nature is deemed to have nothing further to say.

RELATED TAGS: [fear of change, fruits of technology, re-enchanting the world, removal/separation from nature, fixed/closed (belief) system of belief, nostalgia, (scientific) reductionism(ist)/determinism, (in)exhaustible reality, exhaust nature/physical reality, superhuman comput(er)/(ation), (post)modernist aberration, idealist monologue, nature is silent(mute)]

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