Atheism And Mysticism
by Jesse L. Smith
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“The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” –Psalm 14:1
It seems ironic to me that atheists often choose as their god the intellectual byproduct of Christianity. The scientific method of thinking resulted from the work of Christian theologians who sought to distinguish between material and spiritual elements in nature. Pagan thinking prior to the 17th century failed to distinguish between god and nature, and hence all observations of nature were hopelessly entangled with mystical elements. Science as we know it today did not exist, and the alchemists of the time relied heavily on astrology and spiritual elements they believed to be present in nature. This type of thinking limited potential advances in technology because it introduced into nature a mystical or irrational component that could not be comprehended through the observation of cause and effect.
Christian thinkers asserted that nature was like a machine created by a rational God who was separate and distinct from nature. This separation of God and nature allowed for the development of the mechanical philosophy, which was based in the idea that all natural phenomena could be understood as the result of matter in motion. Under this thinking there was no need to invoke any spiritual or mystical elements to explain nature – God was a rational being who created a rational machine that could be understood rationally through the observation of cause and effect. The entire basis for rationality and the scientific method was grounded in the assumption that nature was the created product of a rational God.
Contrary to popular opinion, the assumption that the Universe was created by God has always produced better science. The reason for this is that when God is removed as the creator, the same irrational and mystical component once removed is reintroduced into our understanding of nature. Nature is no longer the ordered and rational product of a rational God, but is a mysterious entity that must account for its own existence. Modern science unfortunately is fraught with mystical beliefs that are presented as objective fact. This trend began with the widespread atheism that spread in the scientific community in the latter half of the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century the rationalist movement gave way to romanticism with its renewed interest in magic and the paranormal.
The forefathers of modern evolutionists were the advocates of spontaneous generation at the beginning of the 19th century. Because God was removed from the equation as Creator these scientists had to suggest ways that nature could arise on its own. Any observation in nature was now subject to the same mystical causes that once limited advancements in understanding among the alchemists. These ‘scientists’ believed that frogs would spontaneously generate from muddy ponds, and that some ‘vital element’ in the air would cause maggots to spontaneously generate from decaying meat. Like modern evolutionists, their theories were padded with legitimate observations that in reality obscured a mystical cause.
Louis Pasteur was a Christian not willing to accept mystical causes for natural observations and famously disproved spontaneous generation in 1859. This paved the way for our current understanding of life through the Cell Theory, which states simply that all life must arise from preexisting life. Since then atheism has always had the tendency to ignore or reduce complexity in life for the sake of maintaining an irrational view of the world. Through the first half of the 20th century cells were regarded as being little more than ‘bags of chemicals’ – and now our understanding of even the simplest of cells reveals the ignorance of mainstream science then. Of course if everything arose from itself at some point or another, how complex can life really be? Just like anything else, science will only be as good as the assumptions that go into it.
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