There is a second battery of offence which confronts a Christian of today in regard to her/him accepting the supernaturalness of The Miracles as being necessary to firm Christian belief; and it stems from a prejudice widely-held, by almost everyone, Christian or not, that:
a) Ancient peoples, like Jesus’s social fellows, were greatly more ignorant, gullible and superstitious than we are today
b) Ancient peoples were not as clear-thinking, and more easily persuaded than are we today.
Both these beliefs are commonplaces in every present generation of men and women; the generation currently alive at whatever time is composed of individuals by far the most of whom believe that they are the enlightended ones and that all generations before them were more or less ‘in the dark’ by comparison.
It’s part of the taken-for-granted, slightly negligent and very presumptuous assumption which being alive and human brings with it; that sense of ‘Tomorrow belongs to me!” and “The time is ours”; an unsighted urge of animal buoyancy which helps drive us onwards in our lives and as a group or species.
Yet I would bet that the average ancient agricultural worker knew more than do 99% of the city dwellers of today about how to forecast the weather; when to sow seeds and when to forbear; how to maximise a harvest; what crops in what places and rotations one should grow; and so forth. And I would bet that most of the ancient agricultural worker’s skills and abilities of this kind are today in developed countries very much ‘lost skills and abilities’ – lost to automation and to meterolgical offices and to mechanisation and technological invention.
A good thing too I hear you say; we don’t needs those skills and abilities anymore. There is a British comedian called Alexi Sayle who made some fun recordings in the 1980s; one of which was a comedy sketch about Rene Descartes, the French philosopher who is credited with being early in laying in place the ground for the European Enlightenment to flourish, and henceforward heralded the demise of Christianity and of any general recognition of truth value for any non-empirical beliefs.
Alexi Sayle had a strapline to his sketch about Rene Descartes; and it went:
“Rene Descartes was a very clever man – but he knew f*** all about the Cortina!”
A Cortina was a very popular model of automobile in Britain at the time of Alexi Sayle’s recording; and of course Rene Descartes logically was unable to know anything about the Cortina since automobiles were two or more centuries distant from his times. It is crazy to think otherwise; but the comedy was in the fact that to an ordinary Joe in the street it was more impressive that a guy knew about a Cortina than that a long dead guy could have played a major part in changing the way Europe thought. That the very existence of Cortinas might hinge in some foundational way on the fact of Rene Descartes just is not on the common man’s radar.
Alexi Sayle’s comic sketch does display for us how passing and transient knowledge about a model of automobile carries more weight for the time being than does the more durable and foundational content of ‘A Discourse on Method’ or of the ‘Philosophical Investigations’.
Without doubt the guy who prizes the knowledge of the Cortina over a knowledge of Descartes thinks himself “clued-up” and “ahead of the game” when he compares himself with musty old thinkers, scholars and inquirers who lived 200 years before him.
But today the Cortina is a rusting defunct memory on the scrap heap of industrialisation; and it has been superseded by Puntos and Iberias, and Discoverys, and so on. Rene Descartes is yet being taught in every Western-world University philosophy department worthy of the title.
Descartes work may seem to us crude and even elementary now; but were we to have taken ourselves back to the age before his, could we have formulated something, anything quite like it given the same state of society and environment? Of course it seems crude and even kid’s stuff, because he has allowed us to move to more intricate and deep stuff by having paved a way for us. And Descartes’ thought, whether sound or otherwise, is today considered to have been significant enough for it to be valued as a permanent fixture in the history of Western thought. People are still studying it; still drawing out germs and clearing away verbiage.
There is no way in which a person well-informed is able to dismiss Rene Descartes from being a formative influence on the whole of modern, and post-modern ages.
Thus it is that the guy working in the fields in Ancient Samaria or Lebanon, holds in his hands and in his head knowledge which today has largely been lost, and which has potential to be the preserver of societies, even today; because he knows how to grow and preserve and maintain crops and food supplies; whereas most of us here today don’t have a clue which way around a spade works.
We have thrown our lot in big time with electronics and technology; the whole world seems to run via virtual interventions these days; this we believe is our daily bread; but yet the political power concentrated into the hands of the Zuckerbergs and the Gateses of this vurtual global jamboree means that at the flick of a switch or at the whim of a magnate; our utilites, our banking, our marketing, and much else might come crashing down and a world in ruins in the course of a few seconds of wrath or impulse.
There would become millions of us available to till the fields and to draw the water upon such an eventuality happening; but who amongst those millions knows how to till the fields or whereabouts and in what ways to obtain water? Do we expect each to be a Moses and to strike a rock and water comes gushing; it seems so that we do just expect, and don’t care to think much why we should expect, and whether we have any right or privilege to expect, more than the next man or woman does.
We believe we have moved forwards because we have left the fields and the hard labour of life behind us. Does our technological electronics grow the food we eat and provide the drink we need? Does not the earth still do so and the fields and the soil and the rivers and streams? We have turned our backs on these things; but these things have not turned their backs on us. They are God-given; and God is ever-faithful, though all men should be faithless.
We are so assured about ourselves – embarassingly so – ludicrously so – painfully sadly so. Like Job’s unhelpful friends we believe that indeed “We are the people; and wisdom will die with us”.
The Ancients knew a thing or two we don’t know – of importance – of necessary need – about life and living, which we don’t really do much of, and instead we incubate inside a social bubble and a historical hiatus, believeing we are living when we are in fact all too often drones, largely supported by the sweat of others’ brows.
I do believe were we to see ourselves on TV we would find ourselves laughable; until we saw that we were so far along a dark and unpropitious road – then we should see that we are pitiable, and in perious danger, and so become alarmed.
But we shall not see ourselves on TV; on TV we shall see sunshine and roses; comedy and exotic thrillers; sensational sports, absorbent soaps and titillating egregous reality shows; everything to divert us and to keep us amused; whilst the burning of Rome and the exhaustion of the waterholes,the rape of the peopes and the planet goes on apace and with utmost vigour. We shall see on TV what we want to see, which is an obfuscation, under a guise of a fabricated lifestyle able to draw one away from a more pressing and substantive world.
We are like those who pass by an accident shaking their heads saying how terrible it is; then turning the corner we enter blithely into the betting shop or the pub and spend the rest of the day jollying with one another. Take for example President Trump, who in a Monty Python moment, and for the sake of those who died in Las Vegas, has offered “A Moment of Condolence”; even had a banner outside The White House reading ; ‘A Moment of Condolence”. Then back to twitter.
Less civilised nations call for two days of national mourning for lesser atrocities and natural disasters, so as to mark and to pay their respects to the grieving. We in UK held ‘a minute’s silence’ for the Manchester dead in the concert bombing. One is able to take note of persons chafing at the bit to be off and get on with their daily time squander, whilst the sixty seconds ticks away. Not even sixty seconds is felt expendable on such an occsasion for some of us.
Jesus taught us differently; but we have let go of Jesus. Our official media honours more so other ethnic and regional faiths; Judaism, Islam, Sihkism, etc – as these faiths are practiced in the UK, and they honour these over above the honour they (fail to) offer the foundation stone of their own heritage for two millenia; and beside The Saviour of the World. Everyone must find sympathy and toleration, freedom to worship and integration; except our own back-yard Johnny, Jesus Christ, who is deprecated and maligned and generally thought little of if thought of at all.
Shame on you Britain! Biting the hand that feeds you. Denigrating your own heritage and succour.
And so sure of yourselves too.
Of course The Miracles do not figure on your list of au fe beliefs. You are wise in your own eyes; and no-one but no-one can take from you your preeminence as knowers and scryers of things. Yet you do not know the first thing about existence – which for you is pre-packaged, oven -ready (microwaved), instant, ready to eat, weighed, inspected, checked, authorised, branded, part of a deal, easy payments, latest version, express delivery, and falls apart in your hands after just a few days use.
I know no ameliorating factors which alleviate your culpability. Get an education. Wake up. Stop telling yourseves how good you are.