This blog post will at the first seem implausible. Yet my continued study and research in the subject repeatedly confirms this. So-ooooo, I thought I would share the latest transpirings of my studies with my readership. First, let us recall the development of historical writing itself (in the Western tradition). It grew out of many different forms of writing over the years, from the universal histories (see Josephus’ Antiquities), to the Roman-Greek “parallel lives” — a kind of Twin-biographical-shadows [analogies] of and between heroes, first the Greek twin, then the Roman one. The religious version that became “The Bible,” developed over hundreds of years and adapted many forms of historical writing, eventually becoming an apocalyptic, Messianic-biographical and universal — kind of history, called by many a sort of “redemptive history.”
The Semitic notion of history begins, of course, with the Genesis account of the “Genealogy of the Cosmos,” and then of the “Languages and Nations,” and then of “The Patriarchs,” and then of the Pre-eminence and ongoing importance of Egypt (by way of Joseph). This literary-historical backdrop sets the stage for a “Mosiac intervention.” The Legal code of Moses provides the expounded concepts of Redemption and Atonement, that mix with “history,” to show how YHWH redeems for himself a people and how (and why to Jewish people) history requires celebration annually of the Passover (redeeming-history continued and celebrated according to Torah).
Here, Genesis + Moses Law = backdrop for Exodus — as “redemptive history” — that anticipates even greater things in the future (anticipatory and proleptic).
Nevertheless, recall the problem of empty-reference earlier mentioned (see previous posts). Please note that rooting a religion in the past roots it squarely in what does not exist. The redemptive historical record (memory) that it creates ties a religion to what is dead (in one metaphor scheme — to what has already been eaten by the Langoliers). Thus, the use of writing in religion is like an attempt (using writing) to resurrect the dead, bring it back to life, as it were, into the “land of the living” (Present). Here, we can note that religion by its mode of “historical writing” aptly foreshadows (causes?) its OWN ENDING — death and resurrection. This is amazing, the end of the story could be nothing more than the nec. conclusion implied by the way that the story (-structure) was put together in the first place.
That is, combine the creation of the “past in a written record,” tying its readership to “death” (what is past, and cannot be again), together with a universal and Heroic history bringing its people of record (heroes) on into the future (the readership’s present), and you will get as a culmination of that “redemptive history”, the death and resurrection of the greatest and best representatives of all of the recorded heroes, at the end.
However, the bad news is that the past (being dead and lifeless) has no real value. Yet religion relies on the past for its authority (our people go back — by genealogical history — all the way to Peter. Religion is permanently (by permanentizing its history in a book that serves as its authority) “looking backward” — for the authority of everyone that has it, for the identity churchgoers have of themselves, for the source of everything good. But this describes the (ideal) future, not the past. The whole project is completely reversed. Consider again the whole structure of the human anatomy (The Proverbs dwell on the hands, the feet, the eyes, the mouth, etc), which aims only FORWARD by design, never backwards.
Consider the direction of PROGRESS in history. It aims only forward. Consider the increasing value of assets and the rule of 72, which shows how long it will take to double the value of your invested money. Invested Value grows as TIME MOVES FORWARD — not backward. Even the history of science offers little help, save that it shows us the great superiority of the present progress (laser-dentistry) over the older MEDIEVAL dentistry (iron jaws and wooden teeth). Profitability moves forward, and is based on what corresponds to the real world, and what works in the real world, not upon empty reference (lies) like religion — rear-view mirror living. Try driving by staring incessantly at the rear-view mirror …. and calamity awaits. The apocalypse becomes inevitable with time.
The history of science, as fascinating as it is, only offers to us the “proven germ theory,” since about 1870. This means we learned to wash our hands three times a day to keep from starting world-sweeping medieval plagues. We have known this by good science for about 150 years. We are barely getting started. We have only had (scientific) aero-flight (aircraft, not balloons) for about 120 years (1906). It wasn’t worth a nickel until about the 1930’s for passenger flights. We have only had what I call “real science” since after WW II, say about 1948. Electricity began to be supplied to cities generally only about 140 years ago (1880’s -1890’s). The truly-useful computer did not exist until about 40 years ago. We have only understood human life since about 1961 — DNA discovery.
Religion aims backward. Good science and economics aim forward. This pits the implied historiography of one against that of the other. History/ religion or science/ progress. Please choose one. Science has repeatedly proven its value. Religious conflict often derive from arguments about the past. These arguments, religious or not, have often caused bloody conflicts, like those of the past in the M.E.; this shows religion, with its counterproductive and wasteful monogamy, to be even more counterproductive by its addiction to the past as “sacred.”
Conclusion#1: Historical interest, in almost anything older than about 150 years, robs us of a better future, spends countless hours of wasted time on the “dead,” instead of focusing on the future and a better life for everyone (e.g. science and economics). This means we should prefer to study what I call the “trend-present.” The present (in times past) has been presented to us as a kind of snapshot — the instant of “now” — but it is best understood as the crescendo of trends originating in the recent past, and continuing until now (not a snapshot now, but a trend-converging and trend-developing “now”). This requires a bit of history, but only a bit — going backwards only as far as value requires, probably in the vast majority of cases, not more than 150 years.
So I advocate here not a complete abdication of historical study, but a severe (value-based) limitation to it, with the recommendation that we consider it to be about 150 years “trailing behind” the present. Exceptions to the rule? Of course we always have these. The printing press (1453) — although valuable has been used very counterproductively — and a few others. Mostly, it is safe to use 1776 as the cut-off point. This is where economics began; this is when David Hume awakened us from our dogmatic slumbers; this is the beginning of the Modern written constitution (approx.) and the time of Watt’s adjustments to the steam engine.
No history book should ever preface ought (antedate) the invention of the printing press. 1452 and earlier is worthless — please note the following phrase — COMPARED TO WHAT COMES AFTER IT. Studying what comes earlier, I have of late determined constitutes an extraordinary opportunity cost — the future. We should spend our time studying this instead — future studies, systems studies, the sciences, economics, linguistics, recent sociology studies, light studies (What would a civilization run on photons (not electrons) look like)?, astronomy of the future, weights and measures, and the like.
Conclusion #2: Religion runs on history (historical writing and reading), and we learned to love history in the West as a kind of sales-pitch that Western-religion sold us. We bought it without ever criticizing its value, its counterproductive features, its conflict potential, its accuracy (the further back you go, the less accurate and confident we become, as a rule to which exceptions exist). Note: recent findings in ancient history recast nearly the entire drama (like 1803-22 did, then, in French). It was out-REEH-Juss!!
History promotes religion, and its putative bases of “authority;” History sustains religion, promotes religion, sells religion in cultural forms and by means we cannot easily recognize; it plugs tacit religion, filling our heads with idioms and innuendos from its norms and mores — it sells monogamy (and salacious “cheating” = violating monogamy), even in historical fiction works, and romance novels. The very idea of “cheating” on your SPOUSE (note the singular) — sells religion as monogamy, but not obviously — to many. Historical works moralize often, sometimes by what they quietly imply; and you can be sure that they often moralize with religious sensibilities when they do this.
What then? Historical writing accounts for an enormous chunk of what I have called the Western “Cult of print.” We should work diligently to make writing ideal, not to make it more all-powerfully inundating than it already is. We should eliminate the excess (beginning with burdensome history accounts), and set controls and criteria in place for “materials on paper” aimed at public consumption. We should limit public-writing edibles to the most excellent, most profitable, most erudite, or most wise writing samples only. By the gods and goddesses!!! This would require education. Pls hlp. undr attk nw (LOL).
Otherwise, you will simply have to post it on your blog.
Abate wasteful history – say pre-1776 or earlier, and we defeat religion. The Future (Ideal Values) is the key to the future.