From the Rear Pew
Observations from Perren
THEOLOGY IS THE MOTHER OF SCIENCE, reads an old adage. Another translation could be “Study of God/Creation is the source of all reasoned knowledge.” Although the Greek word “theos” always is translated “God,” its origin is from a Sanskrit word which means “place in order.” Things which have not been “placed in order” are called “chaos.” “Chaos” is something that has no order – or meaning – and is therefore is “meaningless.” Please note that “meaningless” does not mean “nothing.”
It is for this reason that the Hebrews, when they assembled the Old Testament in the sixth century BC, placed what we call the “Creation” story first. This story is very interesting, because the Hebrews took an existing “creation story” the Babylonians told, reworked it, and produced the splendid opening that we find in Holy Scripture. After all, the Hebrews thought, without the “orderliness” of creation, it is impossible for humans to learn to live together with: Justice; Freedom; Equality; Sharing. And, the Hebrews continued, without those four things, humans cannot live together peacefully. And they believed – as we still do believe – that this is the basic way in which humans are put together.
The Hebrew Bible then continues to show how the Hebrews learned about Justice, Freedom, Equality, Sharing. A lot of this learning was “negative,” but it was clearly illustrated by the way in which the original “Habiru” nomads perceived the world around them. In the “myth based” stories found in Genesis, the four great truths were isolated and given as fundamental to all interpersonal relationships among all humans – Hebrew, or not. It is worthy to note that the primary stories in the conclusion of Genesis are about the great Savior who welcomed nomad strangers into the highly educated Egyptian culture. (I do not find it an accident that Mary’s spouse was named “Joseph.”)
It is for this reason – the great Four – that were fundamental to the Hebrews, clashed somewhat with the Greek concepts. The Greeks, with their philosophy, sociology, mathematics, and physical arts, never found a means of making sense of the world they lived in. This is true, even though Greek knowledge of the physical and mental world was in many ways superior to that of the Hebrews. The Romans, on the other hand, indeed did find a uniting concept: absolute force! It is very interesting that the Mediterranean area – from which the vast majority of us descend – have followed the Roman pattern since Julius Caesar.
You see, for the Hebrews everything was united – made together – by the same “placing in order” from one source. And throughout what we call “ancient” history, wherever the Greek or Roman colonies were founded, the Hebrews had special exceptions granted them – because of their understanding of the great four truths: Justice; Freedom; Equality; Sharing. Greek intellectual triumphs were not bound together; Roman intellectual triumphs were forced together. Yahweh – a living mind -- was the binding force for Hebrews. But no matter how one looks at it, what we have learned to call “religion” is intimately involved with “learning.” And so “religion” became an intimate part of government and governmental force.
HOWEVER, beginning in the 16th century and continuing right up to this present day “spiritual truths” and “scientific truths” finally left their Hebrew origin (Yahweh) which united them, and Justice; Freedom; Equality; Sharing became totally irrelevant to interpersonal and international interrelationships. (To be continued next month.)