Friday 14 June 2024

Materialism, Oneness, Christian: three incompatible world-views

 1. Mainstream Western Secular Materialism

This world is entropic - Life arises accidentally from unlife and soon reverts to it. All that is personal and distinct is temporary and tends towards disorder. Annihilation of every-"thing" is the ultimate destination.

2. Oneness

This world began and ends as One, anything else is illusion. The tendency is towards dissolution of all that is distinct; all beings, all persons, all "things", our-selves.

3. Christian 

The persons, beings, forms of this entropic and illusory world, are a learning-stage or phase, en route to the potential choice of eternal resurrection.

The distinctively Christian essence of resurrection is that our ultimate goal and destiny can be one in which some individual persons, beings, life, forms... order and structure; may choose to become everlasting.

These three world-views are incompatible. Only one can be real, and we can choose only one. 

I think it is best to consider which we would most desire for ourselves; and if the answer is Christian, then recognize that our destiny is one that we must (therefore shall) choose.


Laeth said...

I sincerely believe the first two are quite compatible, and in fact, pretty much the same - both in theory and in practice. I just don't think most people, in history and even now, act as if they believed in the oneness at all.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Laeth - I think you are probably correct wrt the modern West. But the ancientness and persistence of oneness suggests that it was once a real and common aspiration.

Another way to conceptualize oneness would be to regard God as essentially an impersonal deity, such that the highest being is only understandable in abstract terms and negations

This implies a oneness world view, rather than making it explicit - and nearly all the canonical early Christian theologians apparently expressed this kind of thing.

Following Barfield , I think this reflects an earlier phase of human consciousness that retained a larger residue of spontaneous and unconscious original participation.

Laeth said...


I subscribe to the Barfieldian idea - it seems self evident to me. But, outside of philosophers and monks, and even them I am not sure, I just don't see original participation aiming for the kind of oneness that seeks total absorption and that now is so popular, especially in that intersection of buddhism and atheism. What I read in the old stories of every people is certainly a desire for communion, but not one that totally dissipates the person - and not even Plato as far as I know, but only his later supposed followers, talked of something like this as the goal of existence. Of course personality and individuality wasn't as developed as it can be now, but I still don't see that aim for oneness and absorption outside of monastic writings, and although they somehow became the standard of truth for Christianity, even though it is nowhere at all to be found in the Bible, I don't think they were ever, really, taken seriously - as, indeed, they still aren't now, in my opinion.

Abraham said...

Oneness is not a one thing. If we talk about Hinduism, then what you described is Advaita view. But there were also religio-philosophical movements who rejected ideas about the world being complete illusion or that there is no difference between objects, since everything is a Brahman. True differentiation between oneness and separatness is the answer to question: what is primary? Different things, ontologically unrelated to each other, that somehow come to make one universe, or medium, who allows for differentiation, but holds all things in fundamentally one ontological framework(from which they are not separated)?

the outrigger said...

"This world began and ends as One, anything else is illusion. The tendency is towards dissolution of all that is distinct; all beings, all persons, all "things", our-selves."

You have written versions of this Oneness many times and I never get it. Where did you get this idea of illusion? Why do you put the emphasis on "things" being the illusion and not on "the scales which have not fallen from my eyes"?

Bruce Charlton said...

@H - I have read extensively in, and here posted scores of times about, "Hermetic" thinking. But that isn't what I am saying here.