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So what is 'The Enlightenment' and does it have relevance for generation Z? According to History.com Staff, Enlightenment, History.com. A+E Networks. 2009 Web 21 Feb. 2016, this was the Age of Reason, a movement of the 18th century, in which thinkers felt society could be improved by rational dialogue, versus faith or superstition. This culminated in overturning ecclesiastical orthodoxy, absolute monarchy, and their flagrant abuses.
Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Dictionnaire Philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary), Diderot's Encyclopedie (35 volumes), Voltaire's Letters on the English, Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, and The Social Contract, are notable and influential publications of this period per Wikipedia Contributors, Age of Enlightenment, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia 9 March 2016. Web 21 Feb. 2016. Immanuel Kant, an ardent advocate of independent thought, challenged his contemporaries to the application of reason.
Montesquieu introduced the idea of separation of powers in government, and Locke, separation of church and state, which were sagaciously endorsed by the framers of the US Constitution and reflected in the Declaration of Independence. It's goal of egalitarianism, expanding the nucleus of decision-makers and introducing a standard of critical and impartial thought, was a noble and largely successful one.
We have benefited greatly from the thinkers of the Enlightenment. It was the triumph of reason over a sedated but inflamed public. To be enlightened then, in the era of this avant-garde society of vibrant and awakened minds, meant knowledge derived from your own personal inquiry through rational means.
According to Wikipedia, Age of Enlightenment, Ibid, a large endeavor behind this campaign, was the scholarly effort to diminish the political influence of religion, so as to prevent the emergence of war. This seems a rather brilliant move, given personal insights uncovered in my search for answers, some of which I'll share with you now.
There are many myths, allegories and verifiable events surrounding our origins, Christianity being one with which I am familiar. For many years, I believed it all to be true. But as time went by, it appeared something was missing as nothing was occurring in the manner described. From my own review of extra-biblical sources, it became quite apparent that the scriptures were a carefully scripted mosaic of religio-societal history that are at best incomplete.
It also became evident, there are multiple parties vying for the title of God who are themselves profoundly disturbed. According to the story, there is a rather longstanding feud and costly altercation between these parties, the fallout of which, has been anything but pixie dust.
It seems quite irresponsible for a 'deity' to put our lives in continual chaos, due to an unresolved and pernicious conflict, for which we had nothing to do. In fact, it has become an insidious game, with the creator allowing the disturbance of innocent lives or creating it himself, to assess or prove their loyalty and devotion. Of course, pointing this out does not win you any favors. You are quickly labeled insane, made ill, or some other frightening thing. I thought we had left those tactics behind in the dark ages. Incidentally, you are supposed to love him after all this and trust him besides.
But why would one choose devotion in the face of such caprice? Well... if they chose to dismiss such beliefs, they are threatened with non-existence. How then does one trust a god who endorses ongoing atrocities to his creation with little if any concern for their bewildered plight? It seems, both this god and his nemesis are touched with a serious case of madness, and should not be allowed in the company of sane folk.
What father would send his son, an innocent being, into a homicidal environment to save the 'guilty'? The innocent should never pay for the guilty! The son is clearly innocent. And who runs the universe and allows this sort of violent 'play'? Can we realistically expect resolution when the matter has gone unresolved for so long, and the prophesied end, another gruesome war?
Furthermore, there is this disturbing trend of parental animosity towards kids, young and old, utterly and entirely irrational. Parents teach you to be honest, attentive, kind, and to contribute something of worth. But then you grow up to find, they are neither honest, kind, attentive, or supportive of solutions. In the case of Christianity, the Father was emotionally unavailable during his Son's most distressing moments. Have we 'normalized' this behavior?...
Why would you be told to live peaceably with your global community when this god has been at war for as long as we have been alive. Why would he say to love others as you love yourself when he is indifferent to their heartache? Does he love himself?
Not likely, but I do think we need to value ourselves enough to end this absurdity. Our forebears were inspired to take action, to think for themselves, and gave to us this wonderful gift of freedom to do likewise.
My solution then to the situation is this. Heaven is a lovely idea but I am not sure it exists... though it must for good people like you and I do. Perhaps our task is to create it here. That may be the real genius of this environment: finding ways to create, promote and preserve happiness here. That, I think, is possible, and if you will join me in this endeavor, perchance we could make of our world an altogether inspiring reality.
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