5. Symphony of Emergence 


Religion and Empire


Section 5.4.2

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon




  5. Symphony of Emergence  
     5.1 Cycle, System Return: The Axial Age  
        5.1.1 Non-genetic Evolution
        5.1.2 Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation
        5.1.3 Art, Evolution and The Tragic Genre  
     5.2 Stream and Sequence: The Axial Transitions   
        5.2.1 Archaic Greece: The Clue 
        5.2.2 The Old Testament as Eonic Data 
        5.2.3 Aryans, Hinduism, and a Buddhist Revolution
        5.2.4 Axial China: Continuity and Discontinuity
        5.2.5 A Flowering of Greek Tragedy and The Birth Of    Democracy  
     5.3 A Rebirth of Freedom...Cycle, System Return       
     5.4 On The Threshold of World Civilization  
        5.4.1 Slavery, Abolition, and Eonic Sequence
        5.4.2 Religion and Empire   

 6. Transition and Modernity


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     5.4.2 Religion and Empire


In context of the eonic effect the generation of Christianity and later Islam (and Judaism as we know it now) from the Israelite core phase suddenly falls into place in our explanation. The mechanics of these religions is impossible to understand without an eonic model, that is the distinction of System Action  and Free Action. The action of the large-scale historical component (which call evolutionary) is one thing, its realization by men, Free Action, is quite another. Many of the endless confusions over religion will be clearer if we understand this difference. And one consequence is that, according to our rules at least, we cannot explain the mideonic religions to come, i.e. our system does not control the coming mideonic futures, although these are sequentially related to some core potential in the transition, and the Old and New Testaments of the Christians virtually say just that as they create an eonic myth of the mysterious system they find themselves in. It is easy to fall into a ditch here, and it is good to be wary. It is helpful also to look at the Buddhist example for comparison to see the strange core process at work. But we can see how the general pattern is in some fashion latent in the transitional period.

Christianity: A mideonic phenomenon It is important to remember we are dealing with eonic history, and this does not produce an all-inclusive account of its mideonic periods. It is not our job to fill the blanks with some simplistic account of, for example, the emergence of Christianity which is not a part of our eonic sequence. But our schema produces an exact, but abstract, rendition of the emergence of Christianity (or Mahayana, or Islam), and then comes to a stop, our job done, as it were: the transitions produce a seed material as macro-action and these proceed toward the diffusion field there to generate materials for the generation of an oikoumene in the field of micro-action. It is hard to think of a better (eonic) portrait of the emergence of Christianity. But even as it explains, it explains nothing, which is as it should be. These mideonic religions are creations of men, not the eonic sequence, expressions of their freedom under eonic determination, or macro-action.

Thus, it is very easy to produce a plausible scenario of the way our model ‘generates’ the seeds for what comes, as long as we are wary of thinking we can grind out the particulars with eonic analysis, we can’t. The case of Christianity, for example, is both exceedingly obscure and completely transparent, at least with respect to our model. The Judaic stream brims and overflows, as we see a spiritual movement suffer the strains of transcultural integration and break away into a new religion.

These religions are now challenged in the next phase of our system, and the New Age effect is starting over. Nothing in our account requires any future for religion, since this category tends to the ad hoc of its age period. But modern secular thought can barely do justice to the immense task performed by the era of these mighty oikoumene integrators whose impulse moved toward the protection of disparate peoples and diverse evolutionary groups. Secular would replace this integrator theme with Darwinian thinking, then wonders fundamentalism is resurgent. We are so distracted by the metaphysical issues of theology that we fail to see the gestation of a new man from the action of these mysteriously emerging formations rising to challenge, then defeated by, the world of empire.

The critique of someone like Nietzsche of the onset of these champions of spiritual equality is unfair, and historically blind, and we must dread a future constructed of scientism, Darwinist reductionism, and neo-barbarism if an improper or ill-considered exit into secularism entirely displaces the impulse toward the community of man these vehicles created. Modern man must surpass these religions without regression. Our modern transition has already laid the foundation for a resolution of these questions. But we must note the way that these mideonic periods tend to fall into chaotification. Darwinism will almost certainly reignite an ‘Athens-Jerusalem’ style collision if it grows to overtake the global consciousness. This won’t have anything to do with a renewal of the ancient religions. A similar effect is very clear in the far left of the nineteenth century, a materialist movement.

We will remain within the deliberate restriction of our model and issue its stern reminder, that these religions are mideonic constructs. That means that men created them, and how they did that is simply not clear from the evidence, and requires some grounding in the more adept spiritualities of India . Especially with the birth of Christianity is that the case. It is a puzzle with too many missing pieces, one of them the charming tidbit of the ‘three Magi’. The triple action of John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul is hard to reconstruct, and too coordinated to be chance, but too ad hoc to be divine action. We can easily suspect, but not prove, something missing is crucial. The story of Paul’s conversion is a giveaway, but a giveaway to what? A true tour de force of concerted action whose choreographers we do not see, and whose tactics we may never know.

Thus, we can now see the era of phase pass into a distinctively different period of ecumenization, one that we can call ‘mideonic’, not really ‘medieval’ in the normal sense, or even in decline, but distinctly ‘inside’ the new boundary created by the era of phase. Comparison with the previous cycle tells us immediately, as one clue, what is afoot. In the Mesopotamian sphere, small starts rapidly degrade into Universal Empires as the false integrations of the ecumenizers, Sumer to Akkad . A new answer is needed, and the beautiful Greek world, passing to the Hellenistic, the Roman to follow, will prove unable to provide it. The world religions appear in the passage from phase, and the occidental monotheism will speak from Sinai in the myth of Moses, from a people, the effect is beautiful, whose Incredible Shrinking Kingdom actually disappears at the climax of transition! Nowhere at all touches the grand Void and spawns the Islamic chase toward the far-flung Everywhere as one in the Kingdom of...

The most obvious indication is the truly ominous decline of the entire system, in the West. The fall of the Roman Empire is the token piece here, yet we might assume that our system predicts this, or the argument requires it. Not true. This massive decline is not visible to anything like this degree in the world of China . Our subject is eonic rise, plateau, rise, not necessarily decline and fall. The problem is that system runs out of octane, and becomes humdrum, sluggish, then starts downhill slowly, unable to advance, among other reasons because of the factor of slavery . Our system might have had two millennia of democratic experiments. Instead modern man ends up doing tenth grade work in the eleventh grade. We see the drastic cutoff point, as the transition  coughs, sputters, and dies across the board.

The eonic falloff phenomenon in the Hellenistic Age is the answer to Dodds’ ‘failure of nerve ’. The difference is unmistakable very quickly, and proceeds from the era that started with the Iliad and passed toward that of Vergil’s Aeneid. The contrast of Athens and Rome shows the clear difference of ‘phase and sequential dependency indicated at the root of this analysis. We see the one blend into the other as the new era proceeds, and proceeds from the sturdy Roman Republic to the time of the Empire.

Mideonic Forces? The nature of our tale changes as we pass from eras of transition to the related sequential dependency of the mideonic world that arises from eonic generation. Our model has a problem, we can’t explain the ‘middle periods’. We designed it that way, on the basis of the evidence, the plus, beside the minus, of a discrete-continuous model. Everything in the mideonic interval defaults to ‘free action’, an apt and illuminating, though limited, approach, justified, however, by the facts. That is its value, and limit. By definition of our terms there are no such ‘mideonic’ forces, and the system proceeds on its own. And yet there seem to be such. Something in the transitions generates the potential to create the mideonic realization. In one way the answer is right in front of us.

Our form of analysis creates a seeming paradox, the reverse of that of the transition. If we attribute ‘driving force’ to phase, and yet associate this with emergent freedom, we are confronted with the chance that after the phase we will wish to see ‘unforced freedom’ and yet more probably will find a loss of freedom. Such paradoxes are really a sign that we cannot apply conventional dynamical statements to the system we find. But the data reflects this feature of the model most definitely and we know we are on the right track to something because of such accurate reflections of the model. The terms of explanation are ‘eonic determination’ and ‘free action’.

Sequential dependency is not determinism. Instead, information flows outward and there’s a good chance the local future may conform to that information. The new influences of the transition diffuse outward, sort of hoping to influence the future, but more or less just keeping its fingers crossed. So what’s to stop someone in the mideonic times and places to simply ignore the general ‘evolutionary’ direction. We see the elemental significance of religion as a core area generates a ‘script of action’, in the form of a corpus of materials, which, remarkably, even include claims on divinity saying, ‘Do this’, ‘This is how free action’ should behave. The tablets of the law, crystallizing as myth just at our divide, in the expanded abstraction of the state called a ‘religion’, flow outward into the field of free action.

 Anti-Semitism, Mideonic Jackknife, Teleological Tragedy One of the clearest indications, and liabilities of, eonic evolution in our sense is the danger of jackknifing realizations in the mideonic period as the system action wanes just at the point where its productions meet a greater totality. The nature of our model allows us no use of the mechanics of transitions to explain the mideonic outcomes. And history reflects this, keeping in mind that our account of ‘ET5, Israel ’ is not theistic. We can see the difficulties and dangers of making teleological statements about the eonic mainline, and yet we tend to see the projection of the core transitions onto the greater field of culture as somehow the intended outcome of the whole process. The problem with this, and there are others, is that the middle period and the long term are different, and the result turns into a teleological ideology on the part of those realizing its action. The Jews and the Christians quite obviously diverged in their interpretations. This example should cure anyone of teleological thinking. We can see the quiet desperation of someone like Mohammed, ‘start over from scratch’. The entire egregious and wrong result of Christianity with its Anti-Semitic  strain is one of horrors of world history. We should note that we see similar effects in India in the divergence of Buddhism and Hinduism and the long conflicts between the two.

In any case, the confusion of Christians and Jews is especially tragic. It is logical, in retrospect, to see the transformation of the Judaic emergentism into a world religion as part of distributed evolution, but the actual details shows an arbitrary character, and a very dubious series of attempts to justify the result in theological terms. The modern period shows the whole danger all over again in the rise of the far left in the throes of globalization, and we need to try and find some resolution of the inexorable deviations of teleological claims on the future, owned by noone.

Christianity/Judaism, Islam, System Action, Free Action Our model produces a beautiful insight into the emergence of the great religions, so-called, but at the same time we must be clear that it takes a ‘hands off’ approach to their appearance since by the very nature of a discrete-continuous model they are beyond the range of our dynamical explanations, or explorations. They default to mideonic ‘free action’. The most we can claim is that something in our eonic sequence, here the Axial interval, produced seeds that flowed into a diffusion zone thence to be raw materials for mideonic constructs, and the mediation of new oikoumenes. Full stop. And that much the evidence shows, most powerfully. And yet this ‘explanation’, even as it explains everything, explains nothing, and we must respect the historical integrity of these outcomes by opening a new file for their study. We must trace their historical chronicles without invoking the dynamics of the eonic sequence. Because of their occulted origins, that is extremely difficult to do. We have abstracted the question beyond the design argument visible in the Old Testament, and shown its eonic character, one the first Christians struggled with most directly. No designer would use a dicrete-continuous action, it is clearly evolutionary, and makes sense in those terms.

The Axial interval of the Old Testament appears on schedule, while, for example, the initialization point of Christianity is given no explanation in our model. And that is right and proper. It defaults to mideonic micro-action. All we can conclude is that later men, in the realization of the powerful corpus of eonic emergents appearing in the eonic interval, saw fit to do certain things that later became major religions. And they struggled even more specifically with their inchoate perceptions of an ‘eonic effect’ in action by noting the special character of their source point, calling that, misleadingly, an age of revelation, thinking further that certain prophets predicted what they were doing. This issue of prophecy confused them since we must doubt that interpretation, as we see that what occurred was at most a selective realization among a host of potential outcomes, the contrast of Christianity and Islam giving a powerful indication of this different potential realized.

It might be that our eonic model is too basic, that a deeper dynamic is missing in our attempt to express the character of the eonic sequence. But we are bereft of the means to carry this further, although hints and intimations of such lurk in the data. For example the sudden appearance in concert of Mahayana and Christianity six centuries after the divide, both as schemata of redemption, must leave us wondering what we have missed. And the curious Zoroastrian character of Islam near the source points of that other tradition hint at a more complex picture than we have drawn. And the appearance of Sufistic traditions embedded in Islam shows us an experiment in ‘religion-formation’ taken to a very high level indeed, a phenomenon well beyond the capacity of our model to explain.

Let us note what later secularists tend to (wish to) forget, the theocratic ambitions of the great religions of the Axial Age, visible powerfully in the transmutation of the Israelite theocratic state religion into an oikoumene action script pool, leading to the projects of ‘spiritualization of empire’, however confused or unsuccessful the outcome, leading to the powerful dialectical reversal in the modern transition. This was a response to the degenerations of empire so obvious in the encounter of Israel and the Assyrians, for example. We need to take everything in its time, ‘root for the team’ in its time, and then do backflips as we pass to the successive stages of the eonic sequence.

Unfortunately great confusion has arisen in the emergence of secondary, often ‘occult’ or ‘esoteric’ spiritual traditions. We cannot rule out the possibility that emergent Christianity or Islam were the creations of historically undocumented agents of ‘will’ operating via proxies. The suspicious appearance of sufistic agents in the background of Islam is one question mark. The previous appearance of such characters and their occulted feats has to be considered in the puzzling veil drawn in the New Testament around the basic chronicle, consider the beguiling appearance of the ‘Three Magi’, a sort of smoking gun of some kind. An ironic historical version of a design, human, all too human, argument lurks therefore in the attempt to decipher the undecipherable beginnings of Christianity. Whatever the case, what they did exploited the rich material appearing in the wake of the Israelitic transition. This well-tilled soil was a spectacular opportunity. They saw their opportunity, saw it as predicted by the Prophetic tradition and wove a new tapestry around that eonic saga, of which they were only partially aware. We can be almost certain these curiously veiled ‘complots’ lurk in the Buddhist sequence with their known ability to act beyond space via proxies. So everything about the onset of Christianity has to put into the category of ‘unanswered questions’. The ‘designers’, whoever they were, leave only a cold trail.

It is significant that the eonic sequence operates at a deeper level than that achieved by Buddhist agents who carried out the stream of the religion of Buddhism. That is enigmatic indeed since it shows that historical agents at the level of ‘enlightenment’ still are unable to fully free themselves from the historical determination of the eonic sequence. There is some ‘causality of freedom’ we don’t see since the so-called ‘fourth state’ beyond self-consciousness (turiya) can emerge, not only in relation to the efforts of individuals, but on schedule in an historical sequence. The sudden appearance of a ‘Buddha’ on cue in a matrix of periodization seems to contradict assumptions about historical transcendence. There is some higher power we do not grasp behind this, although we see it is connected to evolution in our sense. In any case, the eonic sequence comes out ‘clean’, untampered with in its scale and prodigious variety by the manipulations of spiritual agents. These figures give themselves away with their preoccupation with ‘founders’ at t-zero initialization points, and are not in a position to even observe, let alone exert authority over the direction of evolution (transitions of several centuries in length, globally dispersed over millennia), and were clearly unaware of the larger process to which they powerfully contributed.

Islam It is clear from our model why the Axial religion s began to crystallize about two centuries after -600, as the transitions wane. Our list of transitions was minimal and might have included the parallel Zoroastrian tradition that will influence Islam. We have spoken of the eonic emergence of religion, but this is misleading if it is seen as deterministic causal generation from sources. For the steps of construction, although echoing their sources, show little that was predestined. The point should be clear in the fanning process of the several ‘islams’, with the original Judaic tugboat proceeding on its own way.

But these religions accomplish their missions, in many ways. A foundation is laid for passing beyond slavery, for new types of social existence. That the Judaic tradition proved more capably potential for this task than the Hellenic is a reminder of the efficacy of parallel emergentism with its multiple potentials. The picture is difficult to resolve accurately. Was the post-Exilic Judaism a firebrand revolutionary force moving against the past, or a ‘steady as she goes’ conservative force maintaining a variant of the ancient Mesopotamian temple tradition in a new upgraded form? In any case, the ‘myth of Exodus’ expresses beautifully the ‘virtual revolution’ behind the eonic revolution in a tale, as noted, dated precisely to the generations near the divide, or later. The classical phase shows at its clearest our ‘fundamental unit’ in action, the creation of a bouquet of multiple oikoumenes, from China to the West, as separate yet intersecting cones of diffusion that fall short of global closure. History has outsmarted the one-track mind, with a hope against the imperialists.

The emergence of a world civilization would seem the achievement of the modern transition. It is arguable that a ‘world civilization’ was already coming into existence from the period after the Sumerian. Within a few centuries the implications of ‘first civilization’ were already generating a first world civilization around the Sumerian generator as the expanding field of civilization passed into its Akkadian expansion. Whatever the case, the classical world lays the real foundation for global civilization, even as it spawns its characteristic ‘islams’ in the occident.

The abrupt appearance of Islam at the exact middle of the great passage of our second cycle is hardly surprising. Like the engagement of a pusher unit on a freight train, to move sluggish tons over a mountain range, the effect of this ‘man-made’ jump-start was decisive, in many ways, with respect to the chaos of occidental antiquity. The same can be said, to a lesser extent, of medieval Christianity , of which Islam is all too obviously a brilliantly streamlined upgrade, ditching the hopeless metaphysical baggage of this trial-run. The issues in the time of Mohammed were very real. Twelve hundred years of coordinated civilization had fallen to pieces. Men, who could see, were aghast at the situation in which they found themselves, at the climax of cyclical downturn.

That this generation of a whole new religious civilization was ‘mideonic free action’ rather than phase generation, i.e. no exception to our pattern, can be seen from many clues, preeminent among them the fact that one prophet was able to precipitate a ‘butterfly effect’ against the disorganization of the times.



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Last modified: 09/27/2010