Prophecy, Revelation, Human Nature, and the Cycle of Civilization

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Status
Not open for further replies.

James81

Great Scott Member
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
5,234
Reaction score
1,014
Ok, so this is another one of my wild, loopy theories that I like to think about, but am not sure if I totally believe or not, but I think it'll make for an interesting discussion...

First of all, let me just say that this probably isn't an original theory. And, honestly, the whole idea has been brewing off and on in my head ever since I've watch The Matrix Reloaded. So I know that they borrowed from a lot of different philosophical sources in the making of that movie, so there's probably a similar theory out there somewhere, even though I have no idea what it is and have not really studied it in much depth.

Now that all my disclaimers are out there, let's roll with the thread...

I've always been fascinated by the idea of prophecy. Not just from the bible, but from other sources (such as Nostradomus). But the one I'd like to focus most on is biblical and religious sources, because that's where I am most comfortable with.

It seems to me that a lot of people view prophecy from the sense of people having visions of the future. But I've, in recent years, started wondering if, instead, they are visions from the PAST.

However, in order for that to be true, then the idea of reincarnation would have to be true. Carl Jung talked about the nature of dreams and visions and such in his work. And he asserted that dreams and visions were the unconscious' form of communicating subconscious "thoughts" into the conscious. That dreams are a way of processing our world without using words. That dreams are a form of communication from the recesses of our subconscious minds.

If that were true, and reincarnation were true, then these visions and dreams would be subconscious communications from past lives and such....<---THAT WOULD BE DEBATE POINT NUMBER ONE

But even if reincarnation ISN'T true, the theory continues...

Let's look at things from a new perspective. We like to think that human civilization began 10,000 years ago (give or take). And that before that we were a disconnected band of a few straggling, evolving tribes in whatever state we were in.

We also like to think that our present day, with all it's technology, is the first acheivement and explosion of knowledge that this world has ever know.

But the earth itself is several billion years old (15-40 billion seems to be current estimates, based on sources).

But the interesting thing is that there are certain archeological discoveries that show various types of techonology that may have existed before what we had the knowledge for those types of things. Things like an ancient battery, for example.

So,knowing that kind of stuff, I have to wonder....has a civilization ever advanced to (or even BEYOND) the knowledge that we have now? Perhaps we only know what we know because the scope of what we have to work with is so limited that we have to fill in the gaps (and it changes constantly with each new discovery).

So, my theory is THIS. We are NOT the first civilization to rise to the pinnacle (so to speak). That perhaps this has happened several times before. That each time the population reaches a certain saturation point, the collective conscious is such that we have an explosion of knowledge and technology. And when that happens, things like the atomic bomb get created. Things that can wipe out an entire society in a very short time. And that's just what happens, or has happened before. <---THAT WOULD BE DEBATE POINT NUMBER 2

So, essentially, then, the survivors of such devastation would be a small band of people who spread out and de-civilize (so to speak) and the cycle starts over again.

And it seems like it's in those de-civilized times that most of our religions have their roots (think christianity, islam, etc.).

So maybe, religion is born out of a necessity to not only survive, but to make sure that such global devastation never happens again. That religion is the natural balance that tries to correct our past errors and help us evolve beyond the cycle of destruction and then rebuilding. <--DEBATE POINT 3

And that a book, such as revelation, is the logical progression of what someone really in tune with human nature and thought, can predict with some reasonable accuracy. It has been said that you leave nothing to chance when you truly know human nature, and that you can predict how people will react if you are in tune with their thought processes.

That things like Armegeddon and such are just someone's "vision" of how, if things progress in the way that they have before. That because society has destroyed itself before, those visions and such from the PAST can be used to predict the future and how things will "end" before the cycle begins agains.

And that all the "strictness" of religious texts (aimed at adding a measure of control to people's lives) are based on past destruction and actions that led to that destruction. That the few survivors band together and form "rules" to try and control and stop the cycle from repeating itself.

But every society eventually moves away from the control. That eventually we FORGET that certain actions can lead to "destruction" and we take on an individualistic nature that leads to the same things happening again.


Ok, I'm rambling now, so I'll stop there and open it up to discussion. There's a lot going on in this post, I know, but I can't wait to hear your thoughts and see the discussion that comes from this.

Just bear in mind that this isn't something I completely believe (it's just a wild theory that I've entertained here and there), so I'm not some loopy doomsday prophet. I just find the ideas fascinating. But any discussion I add after this will be me playing devil's advocate to my own theory, I guess.

Anway, thoughts?
 

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
But the earth itself is several billion years old (15-40 billion seems to be current estimates, based on sources).

But the interesting thing is that there are certain archeological discoveries that show various types of techonology that may have existed before what we had the knowledge for those types of things. Things like an ancient battery, for example.

The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Technology has had its ups and down. The Mayan Calendar was incredibly accurate, the steam engine could have been built in Antiquity...and so on. Nothing I've seen suggests any Urban centers older than say 5-6 thousand years ago and the global humn population seems to have been about 1-10% of the present population for all times before say 1700.
 

James81

Great Scott Member
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
5,234
Reaction score
1,014
The earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

Maybe I'm thinking of the universe being 15 billion years old.

Technology has had its ups and down. The Mayan Calendar was incredibly accurate, the steam engine could have been built in Antiquity...and so on. Nothing I've seen suggests any Urban centers older than say 5-6 thousand years ago and the global humn population seems to have been about 1-10% of the present population for all times before say 1700.

Imagine what, say, 100 million years could do to the "evidence" of pre-historic technologically advanced civilization.
 

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Technology has had its ups and down. The Mayan Calendar was incredibly accurate, the steam engine could have been built in Antiquity...and so on. Nothing I've seen suggests any Urban centers older than say 5-6 thousand years ago and the global humn population seems to have been about 1-10% of the present population for all times before say 1700.

And another thing. A lot of world religions have self-reported origins well within the times for which there are some historical records: Zoroaster and Buddha at say 600 BC, Christianity around 40 AD, Gnostic Christianity around 80 AD, Orthodox (Trinitarian) Christianity around 300 AD, Islam around 630 AD and so on...
 

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
Maybe I'm thinking of the universe being 15 billion years old.



Imagine what, say, 100 million years could do to the "evidence" of pre-historic technologically advanced civilization.

There's no primates for humans to evolve from at that point and the evolution of people from primates took about 80 million years.

You could fit some fairly advanced lost human civilizations under the sea-level rise about 10,000 years ago, but I think that's about it. They would have to have been quite small and extra-ordinarily non-expansive and incredibly unsuccessful...and even then it would be odd if we had not found some hints of them.
 

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
And another thing. A lot of world religions have self-reported origins well within the times for which there are some historical records: Zoroaster and Buddha at say 600 BC, Christianity around 40 AD, Gnostic Christianity around 80 AD, Orthodox (Trinitarian) Christianity around 300 AD, Islam around 630 AD and so on...

What about a shorter timeline and a different set of religious materials? Suppose (as I've suggested elsewhere) Homo Erectus was the species where religion started (its first type of action being to overcome deep limbic fears of other big primates in conjunction with the significant species innovations of the first tits and the first old men)?
 

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
What about a shorter timeline and a different set of religious materials? Suppose (as I've suggested elsewhere) Homo Erectus was the species where religion started (its first type of action being to overcome deep limbic fears of other big primates in conjunction with the significant species innovations of the first tits and the first old men)?

Limbic Religiosity and non-human origin of religious impulses:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130725

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130605
 

Ruv Draba

Banned
Joined
Dec 29, 2007
Messages
5,114
Reaction score
1,319
This sort of thought is not terribly scientific James, because the scienctific method seeks to be parsimonious with its theorising -- the more extraordinary the theory the more extraordinarily compelling the evidence needs to be. However it can make for some great speculative fiction, and there's plenty of pseudoscientific thought (e.g. rational, materialistic thought that is not parsimonious with its theorising). Consider this OOPARTS link for instance.

Then there's thought that's more mystical than rational. If you allow humans to have originated outside our material world (e.g. travel from other dimensions and realities or transformations from other forms) then you can explain away the lack of evidence of such origin through mystical means.

Julian May's Saga of the Pliocene Exiles is an example of mystical, pseudoscientific fiction postulating the existence of advanced civilisations in the Pliocene period (though as it happens these civilisations are seeded from our future). May goes to great pains to explain how this civilisation eventually vanishes without obvious archaeological evidence.
 
Last edited:

Higgins

Banned
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
4,302
Reaction score
414
This sort of thought is not terribly scientific James, because the scienctific method seeks to be parsimonious with its theorising -- the more extraordinary the theory the more extraordinarily compelling the evidence needs to be. However it can make for some great speculative fiction, and there's plenty of pseudoscientific thought (e.g. rational, materialistic thought that is not parsimonious with its theorising). Consider this OOPARTS link for instance.

Then there's thought that's more mystical than rational. If you allow humans to have originated outside our material world (e.g. travel from other dimensions and realities or transformations from other forms) then you can explain away the lack of evidence of such origin through mystical means.

Julian May's Saga of the Pliocene Exiles is an example of mystical, pseudoscientific fiction postulating the existence of advanced civilisations in the Pliocene period (though as it happens these civilisations are seeded from our future). May goes to great pains to explain how this civilisation eventually vanishes without obvious archaeological evidence.

On the other hand cyclic time is popular in many religions and some archaic scientific endeavors (Hutton and Lyell) and there are cyclic events (the ocean floors literally cycle) in geology.
One might even say that the progressive nature of time...ie universal time as having a history, is something that some sciences picked up rather reluctantly from mainstream Christianity as it was in the late medieval and early modern periods.
Historical, universal Time is a dimension that in Western tradition was first formulated in religious terms and not surprisingly, it still has many religious echoes...
 

Ruv Draba

Banned
Joined
Dec 29, 2007
Messages
5,114
Reaction score
1,319
On the other hand cyclic time is popular in many religions and some archaic scientific endeavors (Hutton and Lyell) and there are cyclic events (the ocean floors literally cycle) in geology.
Nature has many cycles, and of course civilisations do too. Some of the best fiction I've seen on the cyclicity of civilisations is Brian Aldiss' Helliconia series, f'rexample.

Science sees many cycles of function, and some cycles of form but the idea of cycle-of-being (e.g. reincarnation) is mainly a mystical one. Continents merge and split, but we don't get exactly the same continents. Species rise and fall, but I can't think off-hand of the identical species recurring after extinction. Civilisations rise and fall, but they're not replaced by exactly the same forms of civilisation. It's mysticism that equates things of similar form or function to things of the same identity. Scientific thought generally remains silent on existential questions like 'if I split a molecule of water into hydrogen and oxygen then recombine them, is it the same molecule'? We know that functionally it's indistinguishable, but that's all we can say. (Admittedly, it gets a bit creepier down at the quantum level, but our footing is less sure there too.)

The mystical notion of identity attaches many intangibles -- like 'soul', 'destiny', 'karma', 'purpose'. James' idea of prophetic visions of the past seem to require something similar to carry the 'past memories' -- a matrix in which identity with all its history is somehow stored.
One might even say that the progressive nature of time...ie universal time as having a history, is something that some sciences picked up rather reluctantly from mainstream Christianity as it was in the late medieval and early modern periods.
Historical, universal Time is a dimension that in Western tradition was first formulated in religious terms and not surprisingly, it still has many religious echoes...
I think that there's plenty of anthropological evidence to show that most cultures work with time as both cyclic and linear. I can't off-hand think of a culture whether agrarian or nomadic that isn't aware of seasonal cycles -- though the definition of seasons seems largely functional. Europeans with their agrarian lifestyles and temperate climates often think of four seasons, endlessly cycling. Tropical agrarians often think of two. Indigenous Australians with a nomadic lifestyle often think of six seasons, according to what food is around and how you get it. But many cultures also divide life into linear stages, with each stage marked by a 'rite of passage' that's socially irreversible. We pass through social doorways, and the doors close behind us.

This being so, I don't think we can attribute our basic ideas about time to any religion. Rather I'd say that religious and scientific philosophies have derived their notions of time from more basic anthropological circumstances.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Featured Book