Traditionals must feel they are part of something. Moderns must feel they are part of something larger than themselves. Post-Moderns (pick your appellation; I will not go through that again) must feel they are an integral, involved part of, rather than over, something, be it larger or smaller than themselves.
Traditionals are about conformity. Moderns are about control. Post-moderns are about community. If you want to see it this way, try Traditionals = Becoming/Being, Moderns=Becoming/being, Post-Moderns = being/becoming, with the symbolic emphasis on the capitalization and order.
That is, the Tradtional would like for you to become so you can Be, while the Modern wants you to Become in hopes that you might be, while the Post-Modern wishes to help you be rather than change you to become.
OK. Big breath. They are, we are, ya’ll (Southern Collective Pronoun) are all people. Three giant generations push together as never before. This is Homo Sapiens, the ultimate in the evolutionary ladder (as yet), with approprriate emphasis on evolution as survival adaptations rather than mere genetic companionship with the beasts. Homo Sapiens share needs, one race to another, one generation after another.
Fast forward to the usual needs; food, clothing, shelter. This is Homo Sapien as Homo Faber, the tool maker. Homo Sapien, the warm blooded mammal can freeze or burn. More quickly he can die of thirst or hunger. In fact, Homo Sapien gets thirsty ever hour and hungry every four to five hours. Since he has immediate physical needs his acts as Homo Faber, the tool maker/user first have him make tools to gain the basics. His epithumia, his fleshly lusts, push him beyond basic needs to seek comforts. As soon as there is agricultural surplus in a region, cities spring up on the plains and to the mountains. In the cities, excess reigns, spilling over into the rural plains.
Homo Sapiens connect. First for protection, Homo Sapiens gather in clans, intentional family sets of beings, fiercely loyal to one another in the common battle against the dry wind. From family/clans, man learns friendships. Other loyalties develop as man develops, separating him from the family/clan, from friends, even from his own basic needs. He may lose track of himself. The mother may slay the child. The son may set his hand against the father. Brother against brother, Homo Sapiens fabricate the tools of their own survival, which become the means of their comfort, which become the cause of loneliness, which ends in destruction
Then enters the God factor.
If man were truly beastly only he would stop short of art; performance, music, colors on canvas and the religion of the temple/cathedral would not exist, let alone enjoy their ancient, durable prominence. Something in man longs for something more in the cosmos. He feels the animus, the Unmoved Mover, of Aristotle but that is simply too impersonal. An immaterial non-being is too like a dehydrating wind. Man can represent in woodwinds the fury of the gale. He cannot embrace the wind.
Tactile, Homo Sapiens discovers his constant need of touch. Covered in skin, supported with ridges of muscles, connected to pleasure and pain by miles of neural connections, Homo Sapien learns response to simple human contact.
Tactile, epithumiatic, the Homo Sapiens expects a personal, eternal embrace from a greater tactile being. The Buddha believes this to be arrogance. He sets out a non-theistic, anti-tactile life style, intended to end in nirvana, the last candle extinguished, as though man’s ultimate goal is to lose the burden of being. Last one out of need, he says, turn off the lights.
Ancient (and so modern) paganism sets as its goal the replacement of the earthly corruption with a down from heaven reality. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, like the temple concepts of ancient paganism, exist to coax the gods out of heaven to set up paradise on a blissful earth. The goal of paganism will marry the goal of Buddhism/Hinduism later; i.e., to replace the human ego with a semblance of what God might be like if there were God, or gods.
Homo Sapien sets aside the religion that does not work for him. He does so because he is pragmatic. Inside he is still the hunter/gatherer, cave man in a three piece suit. He forces his religion to evolve with him. Tiny infant Homo Sapien is the ultimate consumer. As he grows, he learns to delay gratification, to work toward goals, to deny himself things even in the longer term for the good of the family/clan. The greater soul learns control over self for the good of the whole. He picks up his own trash.
What do we do? What are we to do?
The inner cave man needs a form, a system of touch, taste, today. His belly is his ego center. There he feels, not in the heart. His heart is a distraction he cannot always afford. He is never other than the enfante terrible, even when she is the grande matriarche. The depth of her humanity is the supreme reach of her self-denial, her other-centeredness, as Nat Tracy would always say.
If we are just about the beast, a mechanic will do. If we are more than a beast, the prophet will be required.
When we argue about the non-deistic religion of evolutionary theory it ought to be about man as beast, not man as survivor, that bothers us most.