Phillip’s posts on the Soviet Union and my own reading for pleasure at the moment have made me think again about the concept of “civilisation”. It has been common for us to talk about decay and loss over at NEO and AATW.
Older contributors and commenters have seen notable changes in the USA and UK over a long time span (and within their religious communities). But even people in the rough age bracket shared by Phillip and me can remark with wonder at the changes technology and the so-called “War on Terror” have brought to our societies – not to mention the fact that as students of history, both Phillip and I tend to take a long view of things anyway.
Indeed, I’m often hear to remark to people that I consider the Hellenistic period to be the beginning of modernity. On a really bad day, I pull it back earlier and apply my assessment to the Iron Age. These comments are not entirely tongue-in-cheek. Those who know the material and know me well might have some appreciation of what I am getting at.
Advancements in technology and other areas of skill do not entail that we will always have the maturity we need to integrate those advancements in a healthy way into our societies. A teleological approach to ethics helps to highlight this problem.
Consider the discovery of metallurgy to make blades. In and of themselves, the blades can do nothing. On the one hand, the use of the blade in surgery brings a benefit to society; on the other, the use of the blade for murder is a curse.
The Biblical commentary on the story of civilisation reveals the need for divine intervention to protect humanity from evil spiritual forces and from itself. The purpose of the narratives in Genesis is to reveal the need for a Saviour, while the Revelation of Jesus Christ depicts the consummation of the salvation narrative.