Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Technology and the Creation in Southern Life and Thought - Part I

I.  The New God

The trinity recognized by Wendell Berry as ‘science-technology-and-industry’ is ascendant across large parts of the world today (Life Is a Miracle, pgs. 16, 19, 33).  Quantity, matter, force, the abstract, the utilitarian, and all the fruits of that triad dominate over quality, spirit, eloquent speech, the historical, and the traditional.  This is often touted as progress by Chambers of Commerce, universities, and government officials.  But this is not the way man was meant to live.  His relationship to the creation is meant to be one other than domination and exploitation.  By exploring the South’s Old English and Celtic roots, the Church Fathers, as well as the Southern tradition itself, we hope to put forward a better way of life grounded in unchanging Truth.

II.  Deceptive Beauty

The Southern Agrarian writer and rhetorician Richard Weaver wrote in ‘Forms and Social Cruelty’,

It must be conceded that some of the creations of modern technology are triumphs of form.  Their lines are so eloquent and so much ingenuity has gone into them that they seem “beautiful.”  They appear endowed with a life and a reason for being of their own.  The sleek body of the new-model car, the outline of an air transport against the sky—these can be pleasing to the aesthetic sense.  Such beauty and utility as they have can easily encourage the feeling that these killers are indispensable.  These are examples of tyrannical forms right in our midst, which we find easy to accept and make sacrifice for, even while we deplore the humanly expensive institutions of other cultures (Visions of Order, p. 84).

J. R. R. Tolkien, the great defender of the traditional ways of Old England and Northern Europe in general, wrote in a similar vein in a letter of his:

In a letter written in September 1954 my father said:  ‘At the beginning of the Second Age he [Sauron] was still beautiful to look at, or could still assume a beautiful visible shape – and was not indeed wholly evil, not unless all “reformers” who want to hurry up with “reconstruction” and “reorganization” are wholly evil, even before pride and the lust to exert their will eat them up.  The particular branch of the High Elves concerned, the Noldor or Loremasters, were always vulnerable on the side of “science and technology”, as we should call it:  they wanted to have the knowledge that Sauron genuinely had, and those of Eregion refused the warnings of Gil-galad and Elrond.  The particular “desire” of the Eregion Elves – an “allegory” if you like of a love of machinery, and technical devices – is also symbolized by their special friendship with the Dwarves of Moria (‘The History of Galadriel and Celeborn and of Amroth King of Lorien’, Unfinished Tales, note 8, p. 254).

The tie between the beautiful and the good has been sundered since the Fall.  We must now be on our guard against evil masked in a false, deceptive beauty, against Satan and his servants who masquerade as angels of light (II Cor. 11:14).  Father Sergius Bulgakov, who went astray with his sophiology, seems nevertheless to be on the right path when he wrote,

Beauty in nature is the breath of the Holy Spirit over the world.  Beauty is immanent to creation and clothes it.  Beauty is paradise in nature, whose traces are preserved in nature’s memory as a reflection of heaven, although in the fallen world beauty finds itself torn away from holiness.  This natural beauty is revealed to man, who is called to receive its revelation not only naturally but also spiritually, in the entirety and fullness of his spiritual being, directed at God.  For man, therefore, beauty is inseparable from holiness; it is not only natural but also “spiritual” beauty.  Beauty has its own laws; it is free of morality in the capacity of norm or law, but inwardly it is not independent of the integral human spirit.  Spiritual beauty is not a particular form of beauty or a place different from the world.  On the contrary, spiritual beauty consists of spiritual eyes that perceive the spiritual content of beauty and judge it.  There is no external criterion here, only an inner one.  For spiritual beauty, beauty and sin are incompatible, and the sinful reception of beauty or the reception of sin clothed in natural beauty (and in general the kind of abstract aestheticism that has sometimes found a place for itself in Orthodoxy, e.g., in Leontiev) is a contradiction. Evil that is clothed in natural beauty is not beautiful but grotesque, and not all things that appear to be beautiful are truly so.  For man, the most powerful and dangerous enchantments of nature are those that reside in beauty.  To reject beauty, to blaspheme it, is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who is the source of beauty.  To be blind to beauty is to close oneself off from the breath of the Holy Spirit in nature.  To surrender oneself blindly to beauty, to abolish one’s spirituality for its sake, is to chase a phantom, for true beauty is spiritual, although it is revealed in nature.  Herein lies the tragedy, not of art, but of the artist, who in his creative activity is called to climb the mountainous path of ascent between two abysses – that of aestheticism and that of demonism (The Lamb of God, pgs. 155-6).

As Prof Weaver has just shown us, much of modern technology falls into this realm of deceptive beauty, being a type of art or craft informed by an evil spirit.  And these words are not used simply for effect.  In Dr Stanley Monteith’s book Brotherhood of Darkness we find the following written about the inventor Thomas Edison:

Thomas Edison was one of Madame Blavatsky’s most famous disciples.  By following her teachings, he learned to meditate, and during his periods of contemplation he accessed the occult power she promoted.  That was the source of his genius and the force behind his amazing career.  Because of his dedication to Madam Blavatsky’s teaching he changed the world in which we live (p. 80).

Indeed, Michael Hoffman II wrote that it is the desire and goal of the devil’s followers to transform humanity and all the creation through human will alone (i.e., technology), without God.

In the opposite corner from Church and Throne, is the philosophy which describes itself as "The Rite of Perfection." This is the alternate name for the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the most powerful masonic order in the world. This is the occult philosophy of not only the Novus Ordo Seclorum--the so-called New Order of the Ages—but also of the Elizabethan Age and long before it as well.

This is the intellectual conceit that the universe—God's natural Creation—is going to be "perfected" by the god-like intervention of the omnipotent human intellect, symbolized by the pentagram.

This is the belief which informs the entire occult project from the Pythagorean to the Enlightenment and is made all the more astonishingly pathological when one recalls that this mission was approached at a time in history when the earth was abundant with vast tracts of virgin forests, oceans and jungles, organic soil and produce and pure air and water. Yet in the midst of this pinnacle of throbbing natural, pristine beauty and purity the Rosicrucian initiate Robert Fludd dedicated himself to the "regeneration of the (natural) world."

The standard disinformation intended for the uninitiated has always been that Fludd was speaking metaphorically, about the spiritual plane. Actually, Fludd was doing both: addressing himself to the literal manipulation of nature by human brain power as well as to the consequences of such "regeneration" in the realm of "magic" and spirit.

This philosophy emerged in the open in Europe with the Renaissance and it is also true, as historian Frances Yates writes, "...it was in its origins that the occult philosophy of the Renaissance had inspired some of the most exquisite productions of Renaissance culture." In other words, in the majestic incense of Renaissance art there is also the whiff of the sulfurous (Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, pgs. 27-8).

We may be seeing the fruition of this infernal vision in the emerging field of ‘synthetic biology’:

A Switzerland based company called Evolva has developed a synthetic vanilla that is set to be released in 2014. The vanilla is created using a process of genetic engineering called synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology, according to a 2005 European Commission paper is “…the engineering of biology… the synthesis of complex, biologically based (or inspired) systems which display functions that do not exist in nature.” Unlike the older science of splicing genes from different species together, synthetic biology is seeking to create whole new organisms that do not exist on earth.

 . . .

Synthetic biology goes well beyond engineering our food. Geneticist Craig Venter is a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology. In 2010 the media hailed his team’s success in creating “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”

Currently, companies cannot patent naturally occuring DNA. Synthetic biology will allow syn-bio companies a loophole through patent laws. “One could theoretically upload a DNA sequence onto a computer, “print out” an exact copy of that DNA sequence, and patent the synthetic DNA sequence as an invention,” Gene Watch reports.

Google founder Larry Page met with Craig Venter in California at the Edge billionaires meeting in 2010. Also present were representatives from the State department, Bill Gates, Anne Wojcicki, Bill Joy and dozens of other tech company CEO’s and scientists.

The Edge Billionaire meetings have discussed the future of genetic engineering, biocomputation and re-designing humanity in a transhumanist era. Physicist Freeman Dyson described the individuals leading this group as having god-like power to create entirely new species on earth in a “New Age of Wonder”. He describes them as:

“…a new generation of artists, writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses, might create an abundance of new flowers and fruit and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet.”

 . . . (Daniel Taylor, ‘New Form of GMO Sneaking into Food Supply This Year’, Infowars.com).

In the movement known as ‘posthumanism’ we see the same powers of darkness at work:

The posthumanist movement sees the age of transition as an acceleration of history towards technological explosion, whose culmination is to be expected no later than the year of 2050, when, it is predicted, the singularity is to finally commence. The term has many meanings, but posthumanists usually apply two among them. The first, made possible by one of the inciters of digital revolution, John von Neumann, says the singularity is a moment in history when a torrent of technological progress becomes so strong, so quick and so pervasive that human life in turn becomes irrevocably transformed. Contemporary posthumanists join this to a fully developed artificial intelligence immeasurably stronger than that of man and the final assimilation of not only human beings, but the universe in toto, with intelligent machines.

Singularity’s second meaning, brimming with religious pathos for posthumanists, is a hypothetical construction taken from the field of theoretical physics: singularity is a point in which the curve of time/space vectors becomes infinite, thus creating the point of infinite mass and, consequently, infinite gravity field. What happens in singularity remains hidden from the outside observer, because gravity annihilates any movement contrary to it, and so light cannot escape it once in its field. In that sense, physical singularity can be visualized only by analogies, because the witness passing over its threshold can never return to relate what he has seen. This threshold is termed event horizon. Singularity denies return to anything that enters it, and this means we can talk about it only in mathematical constructions or images, outside observers blind to its shape and form, but certain of its existence in all its magnificence. Bearing in mind the necessity of light for perception as well as the construction of metaphors, this phenomenon is also known as a black hole.

 . . .

Why compare the acceleration of technological growth with the properties of cosmic monstrosities, frequently the inspiration for creators of science fiction? Namely because there exists a strikingly correct analogy between them, and the posthumanists are all too eager to exploit it. The idea is that the absolute peak of technological progress is not merely a contingency. It is a moment in the future acting as causa finalis, transforming everything “moving” towards it; it is the endpoint of evolution, and not only of biological life, but of the universe as a totality. Man is the being through and by which the discarding of biology is coming to pass, because he is capable of creating technology and, by dissolving his biological foundation, integrating himself into the world-system. He is able to assume a form perfectly appropriate for dead infinity – that of the machine (Branko Malic, ‘A Perfect Murder’, The Soul of the East).

The danger of such works and theories is confirmed by the Church.

(Further sections to follow.)

Works Cited

Berry, Wendell.  Life Is a Miracle: An Essay against Modern Superstition.  Berkeley, Ca.: Counterpoint, 2001.

Bulgakov, Father Sergius.  The Lamb of God.  Jakim, Boris, trans.  Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008 [1933].

Hoffman II, Michael A.  Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare.  Dresden, Ny.: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1992.

Malic, Branko.  ‘A Perfect Murder’.  The Soul of the East.  26 Nov. 2014.  http://souloftheeast.org/2014/11/26/transhumanism-genocide/  Accessed 1 Dec. 2014.

Monteith, Dr Stanley.  Brotherhood of Darkness.  Crane, Missouri: Highway, 2000.

Taylor, Daniel.  ‘New Form of GMO Sneaking into Food Supply This Year’.  Infowars.com.  17 March 2014.  http://www.infowars.com/new-form-of-gmo-sneaking-into-food-supply-this-year/  Accessed 1 December 2014.

Tolkien, J. R. R.  ‘The History of Galadriel and Celeborn and of Amroth King of Lórien’.  Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth.  Tolkien, Christopher, ed.  Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980, pgs. 228-67.

Weaver, Richard M.  ‘Forms and Social Cruelty’.  Visions of Order: The Cultural Crisis of Our Time.  Wilmington, Del.: ISI, 2006 [1964], pgs. 73-91.

By Walt Garlington

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