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The Predicament Of Progress: A Crash Course In A Collapsing Civilization

1046 words - 5 pages

“History may be a succession of absurdities, tragedies and crimes: but everyone insists – the future can still be better than anything in the past. To give up this hope would induce a state of despair.” (Gray 4) This quote, delivered by John Gray, a professor of Western Thought at the London School of Economics, describes the importance of faith in progress, and also reveals the vast agreement that humanity is on a path, and that path is progressing. However, as modern western culture struggles to obey the instinctual necessities of the human animal, and rather decide to place the focus on materials and money, the future of humanity as always progressing is seemly a dim prospect. The endeavor of illuminating whether human progress is a myth, a concentration must be placed on the most important categories. The most important categories to be discussed, with a focus on western culture are: where the idea of progress came from; scientific progress pertaining to technological advancements; and, the decline of acknowledging humans as an animal with instincts that cannot be logical or religiously controlled, curbed or cured.
First of all to unveil the truth of whether humanity has progressed, the initial conception of progress must be revealed. The most influential belief in the last 2000 years is the faith in a singular God by the name of Jesus Christ. Prior to Jesus’ influence in Western civilization, the dominant thoughts of Europe were formed by the practices of logic developed philosophes of Greece and enhanced by the Romans. For the transformation to occur from logic to Christianity, it was the work of the world’s greatest ever public relations guy. His name was Paul, and he converted to Christianity upon hearing the story of a messiah who died on a cross and then was later resurrected. Motivated by his conversion Paul went on a quest throughout the Hellenistic region, and most importantly to the hubs of Western intellectual culture, Athens and Rome. There he ventured into synagogues, temples, and city squares where logical debates were held and professed his the myth of Jesus Christ. Paul encountered great truculence and hostility from the authority and the masses, but slowly the appeal for an individual savior of humanity garnered a following. It was on Paul’s conversion tour when the origin story of progress, and in it, the finality for humanity was born. Included in Paul’s sermons was the tenet that the whole of humanity would face a judgment day. Furthermore, it was this advent of a conclusion for humanity that linked everything in Western culture on a course of progress to a moment. Since this time the predominant belief, whether Christian or otherwise, has been linked to the concept the civilization is moving in a forward motion towards achievement.
Now that the origin story of faith in progress is known, it is important to examine if this hope in the future was a necessary invention, or merely myth humanity has obediently convinced...

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