Saturday, November 11, 2006


Finished reading The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and The Spirit of Invention by David F. Noble. Noble teaches at York University in Canada. His political views are very leftits in nature, which does come through his work, but nonetheless, politics aside, his scholarship is deeply profound.

Religion of Technology describes the underlying spirit (I would say collective consciousness, even faith) of Technology and technological invention in the Western world as having grown out of the Middle Ages and medieval Catholic theology.

Noble writes:

"But the link between religion and technology was not forged in the workshops of and worship of the New World. Rather the religious roots of modern technological enchament extend a thousand years further back in the formation of Western consciousness, to the time when useful arts first became implicated in the Christian project of redemption."

He traces the lineage from early medieval monks (including some Chrsitian mystics) through the stone cathedral masons, European explores (e.g. Columbus), Freemasons/scientists of the early modern period, up until today's own engineers, particularly biological.

Each group saw technology as a means of restoring (redeeming) humanity to its perfection and inaugurate the millenium--the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. Marx had the communist state and the ultimate triumph of the proletriat, capitalism gives us the vision of an "End to Poverty", in money-drenched Dreamworld.

All of these groups also had alliances with the political powers of their day. That trend continues in the amount of military, corporate, and governmental grants for modern scientific exploration.

For Noble this mentality is at the root of the destruction of the world by Western insanity. I argue it is rather the way it is and must be dealt with. I have no knowing as to why--as neither does Noble--that technology became connected to human redemption in medieval mysticism and how that in turn got connected to notions of the apocalypse.

In the ancient Church, particularly still in the Eastern Orthodox church, not to mention other world religions (e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism), technology is part of the sinful fallen world. It can make our lives better in the short term but has nothing substantially to do with the realm of spirit.

The Western medieval trend begins with John Scotus Eriugena (9th c.) Eriugena is the first true non-dualist in the Christian West. [The earliest and greatest Chrsitian nondualist is Origen, but he was Coptic-Greek].

Eriugena not only teaches traditional nonduality, which eventually got him condemned after his death, but that science/technology--what was then called the "useful"/mechanical arts--was part of the redemption of the world.

For Eriugena of course, in a premodern outlook, that redemption was a return to a state of perfection lost in the garden. For those in an evolutionary worldview, it is not a return to a past state but the development of future potentials--perfection as the ability to develop greater and greater.

This puts Eriugena very close to Kabbalah which not only says that The Many are One, the One is the Many, but that Many must be healed/transformed. In this case redeemed. But further John gave the notion that technology would play an intimate role in that process.

Since Eriugena's nondual mysticism was banned and since later literalist supernatural versions of the apocalypse were added this consciousness has become in many ways dis-eased. For Noble it is completey so, which I dispute, but I agree it is dis-eased in the way it is actually manifesting in the current world.

This Nonduality is not a Nonduality of simply a "Lila" of Play of Spirit, a netural or even worse negative, flow of events in a cyclical fashion, where everything is Emptiness but Emptiness never arises other than as Form.

Worse still, according to Wilber, the modern world splintered because of what he calls a Level-Line Fallacy. In IS (Int.Spirit.) Wilber aruges for an expasion of the traditional Art, Morals, Science to include Spirit, Art, Morals, and Science.

In the transition from the premodern to modern Western worlds, Spirit was so closely and exclusively identified with the traditional orthodox regime (blue/amber meme) that when the modern (oraange meme) came into existence it had no "Orange"/Modernist Spirituality. With Spirit driven underground, it unconsciously permeated Science, which then brought about the differentiation, then disassocation, and then colonization of the lifeworld (I/We, Art/Morals) by Science (It). By scientism, science and technology as an ideology to be exact. Science was then, like religion--without proof--defined as solely "orange"/modernist science.

This narrative has obscured the deeper pattern which is still at work according to Noble of technolgoy wrapped up with our notions of redemption and perfection on this plane in history and space.

This consciousness (this faith) permeates many so-called atheists throughout the scientific and experimental world. Because this consciousness is unconsciousness nor alllowed to be discussed as anything than rational truth, the proper tools are not created to raise these issues of our collective psyches to existence.

The current trends most connected to this drive are colonizing space; bio-engineering; and robotics-conscious machines and human-machine interface.

All of these are still deeply patterned by the concept of redemption and millenial perfection, but because science has been assumed, particularly in the US, as an ideology (because Spirit is secretly incarcerated in Science and therefore can not be questioned because it is the very ground from whence questions arise) scientists can not confronted by the public and governments.

I'm going to post some more on Kurzweil in the next few days, but we should keep all this in mind when dealing with his work. He is filled with that sense of "faith", this narrative. Worse Buddhism/Eastern religion generally can not help Westerners deal with this issue in their collective psyches because it is not part of the heritage of the Eastern soul. The best Eastern religon can do is remind us of Nonduality--which is the only way to be able to handle the intensity of this drive and channel it to truly just, beneficial ends.


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