Does "God" exist?
This question has haunted mankind down through the ages. The essential point in time when Culture becomes Civilization is partly determined by the point in time when intellect destroys the cultural "soul." That destruction occurs because the advanced intellects of the mature Culture focus their skills on the mythology of their essential religious beliefs and find them wanting. When the end result of sifting all known facts through the engine of reductio ad absurdum is but emptiness and nothingness, they declare that God never did exist because there is no residue of him left after the application of all of their logical processes.
However, any real scientist will tell you, just because your experiment finds nothing at its conclusion, that is no reason to presume that nothing is there. All scientific inquiry is limited by the skills and methods of the inquiring mind.
Spengler certainly sees the "hand of God" in the formation of each Culture. As he defines it:
"A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring."
It is the "soul"
of the Culture which inspires its people to create the great art, the
great religions, the great sciences, and the other great things
associated with that Culture. That "soul" inspires mankind to create order out of the chaos of a primitive existence.
And therein lies the key: God manifests himself by inspiring mankind to create order out of chaos. God may thus be said to be an anti-entropic force.11
Calling God "anti-entropic" labels God with the only true facts which mankind is presently capable of discerning about God: 1) God is "outside" of the universe as perceived by mankind;12 and 2) one way that God operates upon the universe of mankind is by applying an inspirational force (called a "soul") which gives mankind the psychic energy necessary to create a grand order (Culture) out of the chaos of primitive existence.
How all this operates is presently a matter of pure speculation. But it is a recent phenomena in the history of mankind. Consider: all men and women alive today are descended from one man and one woman who lived roughly 150,000 to 250,000 years ago, but it was only about 15,000 years ago that mankind first exhibited behavior which was in any significant way distinguishable from the beasts of the jungle.
The road to Civilization begins when mankind ceases to be a hunter-gatherer and begins to farm and domesticate animals. Before that point, mankind did little to distinguish his behavior from the other animals. Before that point, mankind's existence was strictly controlled by "The Law of the Jungle."
The motivation to begin farming can only come from an inspiration to create a controlled and ordered existence out of the chaos of jungle-like behavior. Before that, mankind was not particularly different from the other animals of the jungle. After that, Man becomes the dominant species on this planet, creates Culture and Civilization, and begins his long search for Truth.13
What great event occurred roughly 10-15,000 years ago and inspired mankind to begin traveling down the road to Civilization and Culture? Only God knows, and He isn't available for questioning! But it must be admitted that something happened, and that something inspired men as geographically diverse as the Inca, the Egyptian, and the Chinese to each begin their journey down that path.
Whatever something happened, in that great long ago age, mankind ceased to be just another beast of the jungle, and began the long search for knowledge. The search for knowledge leads naturally to the search for ultimate Truth. In turn, that search leads to the "birth of a myth of the grand style, expressing a new God-feeling, world fear, [and] world longing."14 That myth is, as Spengler notes, the first step on the road to Culture, which so far each time has led inexorably to Civilization and death.
The essence of all this appears to me to be:
Through some as-yet unknown mechanism, God infuses Man with an anti-entropic spiritual force (which we choose to call a "soul"), which force motivates Man to seek Truth; and in the process of seeking Truth, Man so orders his affairs that Culture forms and arises out of the chaos of mankind's formerly jungle-like existence.
This is the
only answer which (for me, at least) fits all of the known facts. That
does not (I would readily admit) make it true. But it does answer a
most basic question which plagues mankind in the late Culture and
throughout the period of Civilization. God does exist, and the evidence
of this existence is the anti-entropic spirit force which mankind feels
within himself, if he would only look for it.
Down through the ages of man, various religions have formed and dissolved, all concerned with this essential question: "What is the proper relation between Man and God?" In the early primitive stages, Man never asks: "Does God exist?" That is a question which is reserved for the time when Culture is dying. Once intellect arrives at the answer: "I see no real evidence of the existence of God," then Culture dies and the Civilization is born. But in that process, mankind loses its soul.
This, then, is the power of Spengler's vision: it illuminates the place where our Civilization lost its knowledge of God. Spengler tells us exactly where to look. God is most present in the "soul" of the young Culture, inspiring Man to create the great wonders which we still marvel at today (architecture, art, music, etc.). When the anti-entropic force of the "soul" dies, the Culture transforms to Civilization, and from that point, there is only the increasing entropy of the chaotic "decline" into oblivion. When the cultural "soul" dies, mankind loses its ability to tap the outside well of anti-entropic force which I call God. It is not that "God is dead;" instead it is that "God is dead" in our lives. We have merely lost our contact with the spirit force which made Man to be a non-animal.
Cultural formation is, to a significant degree, a function of the quantity of free time which mankind has, and what activities are available to fill that free time. I believe that the total lack of any record of a hunter-gatherer Culture has much to do with the great lack of free time in any group which must devote most of its energies towards foraging for food. Also, hunter-gatherer colonies will tend to be small, as any given land area will only support a small number of hunter-gatherer individuals, as compared with the number of people which the same land area would support in an agricultural society. The smaller the colony is, the less opportunity there is for specialization; and unique specialization of the efforts of numerous individuals appears to be one key to cultural formation.
But these factors would not appear to be determinative. If there ever was a group of hunter-gatherer individuals which had a great chance to form their own unique high Culture, it would be the Polynesian people. They lived a marvelously easy existence, with food practically falling into their laps. But, in spite of sufficient amounts of free time, they never passed into an era that would have created a high Culture out of their primitive religious beliefs. Why is this so? It is pure speculation on my part, but it simply appears to me that they never received a necessary motivation towards having an organized existence. In other words, their life was TOO easy, so they were not forced to actually cultivate their food and store it away for "a rainy day." Also, the ease of their existence never forced them to develop the kind of cooperative specialization which will eventually lead to some portion of their populace performing the tasks which eventually lead to Culture.
Of course, it may also be that life is too hard for cultural formation to occur. Many primitive tribes settled in the northern latitudes. None of them formed a high Culture. It may well be that a certain amount of ease of existence is required for cultural formation. The Eskimo peoples never had the chance to form a high Culture because they were always living on the edge of survival.
As always with substantial scientific inquiries, we get as much good information from the examination of failures as we do from the examination of successes. The fact that the Polynesian and Eskimo peoples did not form a high Culture, while the Inca, Maya, and Aztec peoples did, should tell us something about the forces which must be absent or present for cultural formation to occur. Some significant factors in the formation of high Cultures would appear to be: moderate to warm climates; abundant food if (and only if) substantial agricultural work is supplied; a social and/or religious order which fosters individual specialization and acceptance of technological advances; and a tolerance for ever-larger numbers of people so that grouping them together in ever-larger cities becomes acceptable to the multitudes.
Those peoples who organize themselves into tribes, but fail to progress into some kind of high Culture, seemingly never grasped the essence of a Cultural "soul," which is the above-mentioned "anti-entropic spiritual force." They remain mired in an archaic hunter-gatherer type of existence, even if they do have some primitive forms of farming. Another way of saying this is that these people never obtained full contact with "God," and were thus denied something which we feel is essential to any Culture, if not to humanity itself, a full measure of the "anti-entropic spiritual force" discussed above.
If the formation of agricultural communities is the beginnings of Culture, then the roots of Civilization lie many millennia ago. And, it must be noted, the roots for the Mayans are deeper than for the Egyptians! The Egyptians began farming roughly six to seven millennia ago, while the Mayans began farming seven to nine millennia ago. It is also true that agriculture arose ten to twelve millennia ago in Mesopotamia, which thus beats both of these in the race to the foundations of Culture and Civilization.15 It would not appear that agriculture arose in either India or China until about five to six millennia ago, which pretty much completes the roster of ancient peoples who fostered the growth of significant Cultures.
I have every reason to believe that, if Native Americans had been left alone for a few more centuries, one or more of their tribes probably would have formed a high Culture. All of the elements for cultural formation were there for several of the major tribes. One of the most advanced tribes was the Cherokee, who had already developed a fairly complex system of government, and had some amount of agriculture based upon a maize crop. I would guess that the Cherokee people were just on the verge of developing their own Culture when the Whites intervened. I come to that conclusion because of the known fact that it was the Cherokee who most readily assimilated the Culture of the White people; in order to do that, their own souls must have been ready for Culture.
Still, today, we have some tribes who live in a hunter-gatherer state of existence. We now go to great lengths to preserve those tribes; as objects for scientific study, and as essentially "museum pieces." Like the Cherokee, these people are not being given the opportunity to develop their own high Culture. I would predict that, if any of them ever did begin down that path by producing some great work of art, or making some similar accomplishment, we would then choose to quickly assimilate them into our own Western Civilization. We would do that out of our own greed; to profit by their accomplishments.
11 "Entropy" is a concept from thermodynamics. It is a measure of the state of "disorder" (chaos) in a given system, and is usually discussed along with the catch-phrase: "entropy always increases." If the system is isolated, the entropy (disorder, chaos) in that system must either remain the same or increase, and that increase is proportional to the work performed. Entropy (disorder, chaos) can only decrease if contact is established with something outside of the allegedly "isolated" system. Thus, it may be said that anything which creates order out of disorder (chaos) is "anti-entropic" (it goes against entropy, or is "reverse" entropy), and by saying that, you are admitting that it comes from outside.
12 The universe perceived by mankind is thus the "isolated" system required for an analysis of the entropy state. If you feel tempted to consider, for example, the planet Earth as the "isolated" system, just walk outside at noon on a Summer's day and feel the heat from the Sun; you will then perceive an obvious thermodynamic effect from "outside" of our planet. Life is not simple.
13 All scientific inquiry is a search for Truth. So too is all philosophical inquiry. In the earliest systems, those of the classical Greeks, like Plato, philosophy and science were two aspects of the same discipline. While modern thought has now separated all knowledge into numerous fields, it is still correct that each field of knowledge is a (now specialized) search for Truth. The only possible exception would be Religion, and even there, mankind searches for an ultimate Truth about God and the existence of mankind in relation to God. It is just that Religion, as opposed to every other branch of knowledge, first begins with an answer, and then attempts to fit all the questions to that answer. It simply cannot succeed; as soon as the right question comes along, one which cannot be fit to the predefined answer, "Faith" evaporates, and the "soul" of a Culture dies.
14 The quotation is the first entry on "Table I. `Contemporary' Spiritual Epochs" at the end of Volume I of "The Decline of the West."
15 It must be noted, however, that this "race" does not proceed at an even pace in different groups of humans. While the Egyptians began farming much later than did the Mesopotamians, they were much earlier in the formation of specialized "occupations" leading to the earlier construction of significant surviving monuments.
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