Civilization and Ethics
Sections of this chapter
Akkad--The First Empire
The Assyrians and the Aryans
An Ethical Singularity
The Prelude to Christianity
The Protestant Spirit
The New Entropy
It is commonplace to say that what made civilization possible was the invention of agriculture; but even more fundamental than agriculture were ethics. For only through ethics is it possible for large groups of people to live together. Agriculture was clearly necessary to support a large, sedentary population, but there would have been no significant grouping of cooperative people to invent agriculture if they did not have a unifying, objectively valid ethical code to begin with.
Civilization begins, therefore, not with the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, but with the articulation almost 50,000 years ago of a valid ethical code which was incorporated into the religions of Cro-Magnon and other Homo sapiens. Those societies which lived in closest harmony with the evolutionary ethic would be the most cohesive, inventive, and dynamic. This would enable them to group together into the largest cooperative groups, thereby laying the foundations for civilization. No civilization is possible without an ethical code that is at least partially valid.
What enhanced civilization was a complex of inventions. Language and large-scale organization were clearly important inventions. The others were new tools for cultivating, processing, and defending food. The early agricultural communities required strong, well-organized defenses since they were highly vulnerable to attacks from marauding bands of hunters and, later, from nomads. Nomadism is an evolutionary step somewhere between a hunting society and an agricultural society in complexity, but it does not have the potential for engendering civilization. The earliest nomads were probably reindeer herders who followed the flocks. Much later they became goat and sheep herders and led the flocks from one pastoral area to another. The nomads represented a type of psychosocial specialization which would lead to evolutionary deadends for whoever adopted this way of life. Only more generalized groups of people than can live by nomadism can create the diversity of skills and the stable resources that can lead to unending evolution.
Another invention which is important for civilization is a device for measuring time. A corollary of the complexity of a culture is its sophistication in its concept of time. The mental model of time varies in our own day as a direct function of the complexity of the culture. Very primitive people live almost entirely in the present. More advanced people have an historical perspective of themselves and plan activities which may be many years in the future. "Advanced" in this context simply refers to a people with relatively higher amounts of true extragenetic information. The earliest evidence of time measuring is in the construction of calendars by the Cro-Magnon tens of thousands of years ago. Many preliterate people had a very deep knowledge of astronomy and calendar making [356, 495]. The most notable of these early machines are the artifacts of Stonehenge, which served rather complex astronomical and date-keeping purposes before the early inhabitants of Britain had a full-fledged civilization, which in fact was introduced by the Romans .
A civilized people may be defined as a group of persons tied together by a common ethical code who systematically predict and control their collective ability to predict and control. The essential difference between civilized and uncivilized people is that among the latter there is no systematic group effort by its members to create machines for the benefit of the group as a whole, machines which require several persons to operate and which may not be used for several months or even several years after construction is begun on them. It is this notion of long-range planning and concern for the creativity of future generations which distinguishes the civilized person from the barbarian, who typically never has any vision beyond tomorrow, or the savage, who lives entirely in the present. The longer into the future the planning is projected, the more civilized is the society. Therefore, a civilization never comes into being or survives unless it is guided by a cooperative group of persons who have a vision of and concern for the generations yet unborn. The vision of the future is always tied to the ethical code.
Because the ethical code has traditionally been closely tied to a religion, the major unifying force binding a people together has been religious. As we shall see, in the early civilizations, religion, agriculture, and technology were closely intertwined. In all civilizations, cities, as opposed to villages, begin as religious centers. When the religion and ethical code are out of harmony with the evolutionary ethic, then the civilization will decay and become entropic, in complete analogy with a specializing species. Religion often represents a type of psychosocial specialization which closes themind both individually and collectively. It is only by radical psychosocialmutation in religion that human evolution continues. Religions do notevolve smoothly, but mutate radically . With the beginning of civilization, human evolution became almost totally psychosocial, and future biological changes were almost entirely entropic. However, the extrageneticinformation in the human species began to increase at an exponential rate with the advent of civilized humans.
Until about the time of Darwin humanity clearly had little idea of what it was doing to itself through civilization. Natural selection operated on civilizations just as blindly as it had on the barbarian hunting bands and the savage, individual hominid families before. The extragenetic information increased because those civilizations which did not increase extragenetic information at a high rate, or that went into decline, were destroyed or conquered by barbarian hordes or by more progressive civilizations. We define "progress" as "an increase in the ability to predict and control the total environment" or simply as "an increase in intelligence." We will show that an intelligent civilization without objective ethics becomes unstable and destroys itself or is destroyed by an objectively more ethical civilization. We saw this occur in our own time in Nazi Germany, a highly intelligent civilization which violated the evolutionary ethic and all of the Eight Ethical Principles by persecuting its most creative people; it was, as a consequence, conquered. Therefore, progress is not possible beyond the primitive hominid stage without ethics. In almost all civilizations ethical systems become institutionalized within a religious or quasi-religious framework which becomes increasingly rigid and closed until entropy destroys it. We will now see how this has happened throughout history and develop the pattern by which civilizations have always become entropic.
The Neolithic Prelude
Although religions evolve through radical changes, the evolution of civilization is itself a more gradual process in which technological progress occurs within a relatively fixed ethico-religious framework. The Homo sapiens of 50,000 years ago had a relatively simple technology but probably already had a complex ethico-religious system which involved elaborate art forms and rituals. Their artistic creations are already evidence that they would engage in complex, drawn-out, group activity for which the rewards were long delayed or perhaps even nonexistent. This mental attitude of intense, long-term activity for a distant reward is what made civilization possible. This began with preparations and magical rites for life after death, but it had an immediate effect in terms of practical technology.
Until about 12,000 years ago there was a gradually increasing investment in time for the purpose of obtaining better tools. This increasing foresight had been going along with increasing brain size for millions of years. As tools increased in complexity, so did the amount of labor necessary to manufacture them. Then about 12,000 years ago there was a radical change in stone technology, which had been basically the same for several million years. Instead of merely chipping and flaking stones to make tools, our ancestors began to grind and polish them to make a wide variety of newtools. This was the transition from the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age to the Neolithic or New Stone Age .
Neolithic technology produced much better tools, but it required a much greater investment of labor plus fixed resources. With Neolithic technology, humanity began to make many new tools which had no other purpose than to make other tools. These included grinding stones, hafted axes with polished blades, needles, clay pots, and relatively permanent dwellings with stone hearths. Fairly large, semi-permanent villages of over 100 inhabitants, who lived by hunting, gathering, fishing, and possibly some trading in tools and food, became fairly widespread at this time along rivers, lakes, and ocean shores where there was considerable food. These fairly permanent living areas prepared the way for systematic agriculture.
It is likely that in these villages the men still went on fishing and hunting expeditions while the women cultivated plants and, in essence, invented agriculture. The early Neolithic people and the late Paleolithic hunters greatly honored women and had many female deities. The ancient Chinese symbol for emperor is a female symbol. The role of women began to be degraded much later when standing armies were created .
There is clear evidence of agricultural communities with pottery and agricultural tools over 10,000 years ago. These have been discovered in Asia Minor and northern India. There is no clear demarcation between where barbarism ends and civilization begins. These changes in Neolithic living styles from hunters and nomads to permanent agricultural communities clearly represent the transition period. The major mental change which occurred during this period, which lasted about 6,000 years, was an enormous increase in foresight and planning ability on the part of the early agriculturists. The earliest long-range planning went into building religious centers with idols, temples and other constructions for predicting and controlling the behavior of the gods. The oldest known city with permanent dwellings, walls, many religious artifacts, and a population of several thousand was Jericho, constructed about 8,000 years ago [84, 320].
There must have been considerable evolutionary pressure from natural selection to favor those agricultural communities which were most cohesive in organization and farsighted in their planning. These communities would store grain in jars as a hedge against drought and build permanent defenses to ward off the marauding bands of nomads, which were on the increase, and the dwindling bands of hunters. Eventually the purely hunting-and-fishing way of life became obsolete except for the relatively isolated bands of humans in Australia, the Americas, and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the Eurasian land mass and northern Africa was now dominated by a Neolithic people who were nomads, agriculturists, or a combination of both.
The nomads had the advantage of high mobility and low entropy from human parasitism, but they could not accumulate the machines andknowledge that were available to the settled agricultural communities in spite of their predilection for engendering human parasitism. Civilizations, up to the present, have had a built-in instability which resulted from increasing collective intelligence while (1) nurturing an ever more parasitical ruling class and (2) forcing their members to become highly specialized. Later we will show how this process is still going on today. In Part II we will show how to overcome it.
Human society for over 10,000 years was in a constant battle involving highly mobile, ethical, generalized, warlike nomads with relatively simple cultures versus sedentary, more peaceful, specialized agriculturists with a more complex culture but increasingly degenerate leadership which corrupted the rest of society. Recall that "culture" is the total sum of extragenetic information a people possesses. The last major nomadic inroadsinto the civilized world were those begun by Genghis Khan in the 12th century and stopped in the 14th century by agricultural communities in Eurasia.
Therefore, civilization evolved by spurts and stops as the sedentary way of life tested itself against the nomadic way of life. In the long run the civilized mind had to win because it incorporated more coherent information. But as recently as the 14th century, the military superiority of civilization over nomadism was not an obvious fact. The evolution of modern civilization begins at Sumer.
It has rightfully been said that history and civilization begin at Sumer [429, 430]. Although we do not know when the transition from barbarism to civilization was made, the Sumerians of 5,500 years ago had clearly already made the transition. In a burst of creativity which was not to be equaled for another 3,000 years, they created cities and vast irrigation systems; invented writing, the plow, the sailing ship, arithmetic, the wheel, institutional government, the first written code of ethics and laws, formal education, and systematic astronomy; baked bricks and cement; and they created the first body of literature, the first written music, and many other firsts which are still embodied in today's cultures. For example, the Sumerians were the first to divide the day into 24 hours of 60 minutes each, a convention that all civilized societies still adhere to. All Old World writing systems, including the Egyptian and the Chinese, were apparently derived from the Sumerians . Indeed all civilization is probably derived from Sumer. The Sumerian musical scale and harmonic forms were the same as were incorporated into all forms of Western music until the 20th century.
The Sumerians apparently invaded southern Mesopotamia (the region corresponding roughly to modern Iraq) about 6,000 years ago, probably by way of the sea. They seem to have come from the region of Iran, although the Sumerian language is neither Indo-European norSemitic, and in fact seems unrelated to all other known languages. The true origin of the Sumerian people, therefore, is largely unknown. Northern Mesopotamia had had thriving agricultural communities, if not civilizations, for at least 4,000 years. However, southern Mesopotamia was marshy with irregular rainfall. Therefore, agriculture was feasible only through irrigation. The Sumerians had to conceive, plan, and execute massive public projects for draining swamps, building dams, and diverting the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers along a complex system of canals and irrigation ditches. This required a highly progressive ethical code and system of organization. The early cities were all religious centers run by a priestly aristocracy which appointed kings. As intermediaries for gaining the favor of the gods, the priests were able to control thousands of persons.
Since the Sumerians wrote down their ethical code, we know what it was. They cherished goodness and truth, law and order, justice and freedom, righteousness and straightforwardness, mercy and compassion. They abhorred evil and falsehood, lawlessness and disorder, injustice and oppression, sinfulness and perversity, cruelty and pitilessness. In short, the Sumerians practiced the evolutionary ethic. The Sumerians codified these rather vague but familiar notions of good and evil into a written ethicolegal code. The Sumerians followed most of the Ethical Principles, except they were unethically gullible in their religious beliefs, and they used means which were not ends as well as unethical means. The Sumerians eventually degraded women. For example, only women were allowed to be enslaved. This contributed to their ultimate downfall by violating the third Ethical Principle. Eventually they would be destroyed by their unethical religious and cultural traditions, as would other civilizations which incorporated them.
The Sumerians had a polytheistic religion with hundreds of invisible gods and a view of life that man (women were not important) was created solely for the benefit of the gods. Man was seen as a complete puppet devoid of free will and in the hands of the gods, who made him behave for their own purposes. To disobey the will of the gods as interpreted by the priests would bring disaster to any individual. This was clearly an effective, although unethical, psychosocial tool for controlling human behavior. Ethical behavior induced by fear is ultimately destructive. Both the good and the evil of the world were created by the gods, but the gods themselves were entirely "good." This somewhat paradoxical position was apparently never resolved by the Sumerians, but it produced a sense of fatalism which eventually undid them.
As the Sumerian civilization became increasingly complex, there developed a true middle class of scribes, governors, ambassadors, temple administrators, sea captains, tax officials, priests, architects, accountants, and military leaders, the king being the commander-in-chief. As organized warfare between Sumerian and other non-Sumerian cities developed, theimportance of the king increased and the kingship became hereditary. The Sumerian school system, which was to serve as the archetype for middle-class education through to the present, served almost entirely the interests of this class. There is considerable evidence that women, the children of the poor, and slaves had no opportunity at all to educate themselves. This violated the evolutionary ethic by restricting the flow of information and produced an increasingly specialized society in which knowledge was constantly narrowed until the collective mind of the Sumerians was closed. The process was abetted by a fossilized, fatalistic religion and another Sumerian innovation: bureaucracy.
A bureaucracy is an organization with a built-in mechanism for destroying negative feedback. An organization, we recall, is a group of persons with common goals and rules of behavior. All bureaucracies are organizations even if they are organizations of two persons. Not all organizations are bureaucracies.
The Sumerian bureaucracy was primarily a civil service directly responsible to the hereditary king of each of the rival city-states. The civil service was inextricably intertwined with the religious bureaucracy which administered the temples, both bureaucracies being products of a common educational system. Together the secular and religious bureaucracies became organizations with no other purpose than the protection and extension of their privileges. They jointly controlled all food production and the educational system. The bureaucracies served as an entropic sink - a psychosocial black hole - which destroyed ethics, absorbed the intellectual energies of the people, and created nothing. The dynamic, creative traditions of over a thousand years eventually succumbed to useless religion and parasitical bureaucracy, which fostered specialization and destroyed imagination. The Sumerians were conquered about 2300 B.C. by a more primitive but less entropic people, the Akkadians.
Akkad--The First Empire
Sumer consisted of a loose confederacy of several rival city-states, each ruled by a hereditary king. At first a single king in the chief temple city was the king of all Sumer. Then the kingship would go from city to city, depending on which city was in ascendancy. Eventually each city had its own king. However, there was never a single unifying ethic which would unite all of Sumer. The semicivilized people to the north were for centuries little or no threat to the highly advanced Sumerians. One Sumerian king was eventually able to completely dominate two cities, but by this time the Akkadians immediately to the north were able to absorb enough true information from Sumer without being burdened by the same extensive bureaucracy and false religious information.
Technology, particularly simple technology, is much more easilytransferred than ethical or religious information. This is the case because technology usually brings immediate benefits without hurting the ruling class. New ethical or religious ideas often disrupt the religious bureaucracy, which is typically integrated with the ruling class. Since religious ideas are rarely objectively valid, there is no logical reason for accepting one religion over another unless that religion is either (1) more emotionally satisfying or (2) imposed by force. Therefore, the Akkadians, who were a Semitic people in close contact with the Sumerians, were able over the centuries to absorb much of the true information of Sumer without absorbing too much of their entropy - particularly that entropy associated with bureaucracy. Furthermore, Akkad, about 4,200 years ago, was a relatively new society led by the highly progressive, indeed, visionary king, Sargon I.
Sumer, because of the centuries of hereditary rule, was almost certainly led by mediocre kings. Because of genetic regression, hereditary rule almost always leads to mediocre leadership in a few generations and may occasionally produce disastrously bad leadership despite the brillianceof the original king [208, 512]. The leading city of Akkad, Kish, had been continually trounced in war throughout the centuries by the more civilized Sumerians. Each time Akkad was defeated it used this negative feedback to learn from the Sumerians and to make way for a new, more competent king. Eventually Akkad had all the technological knowledge of Sumer plus a much more progressive king. At this time Sumer was conquered and the Akkadian Empire was formed. It was the Romans who later learned that a vigorous alien culture which is merely defeated will arise again with renewed vigor. Therefore, the Romans eventually totally annihilated Carthage.
Sargon I was not content to conquer Sumer, but extended his rule and civilizing influence to all of Mesopotamia and through his successors eventually as far as Syria, Arabia, Persia, Palestine, and possibly Crete. Sargon I was a creative leader who civilized the primitive people he conquered and preserved what was best in the Sumerian civilization. He and his sons played a role in Sumer similar to that which Philip and Alexander were to play in Greece two thousand years later. The Akkadians had so much respect for the Sumerian civilization that they and their successors continued to use Sumerian for literary, technical, and religious writings for centuries after their conquest, very much in the way Latin was used in medieval Europe. Unfortunately this intimacy with the Sumerian culture eventually spread the Sumerian religious beliefs also. And the Sumerians eventually gave not only the progressive aspects of their civilization to Mesopotamia for thousands of years to come, but also their rather destructive religion which, when combined with Semitic idol worship and hedonism, was to lead to a highly unethical, destructive, religious bureaucracy.
The religion of Sumer remained essentially the same throughout all of Mesopotamia for over 4,000 years - long after the Sumerians and their spoken language had disappeared. We note that many Sumerian myths, including the "Adam and Eve" and "Noah" myths, were incorporated by the Hebrews two thousand years later when they were in Babylonian captivity. The Sumerian-based religion, besides involving persons in wasteful sacrifices, massive temple building, and complex rituals necessary for obtaining the favor of hundreds of specialized gods, consumed the intellectual energies of the best minds of the civilization. Thousands of books (that is to say, archives of clay tablets) were written on how to interpret sheep entrails for predicting the future. Many more books were written and thousands of person-years were expended developing the delusions of astrology, fortune-telling, divination, and witchcraft that appeared at this time and still persist today as an entropic inheritance from the Mesopotamian civilization. The net effect of this was a growing entropy in Mesopotamia that destroyed its creativity in spite of periodic expansions through military force. From at least two centuries before the fall of Sumer in 2,300 B.C. there was no single important invention created in Mesopotamia, although technological improvements were repeatedly made - particularly in political organization. The major technological innovations of the next two thousand years were (1) the smelting of iron, (2) the domestication of the horse, (3) the invention of the spoked wheel and the war chariot, (4) the development of the alphabet, and (5) the creation of mathematical geometry. All of these inventions were to be developed by persons on the fringes of the Mesopotamian empire.
Just as the Akkadians had absorbed what was best in the Sumer but limited at first their absorption of what was worst - namely the religion, not the ethical code - so did the less civilized people on the fringes of Mesopotamian civilization absorb what was best; but to a great extent they rejected the religion and bureaucracy of Sumer. The major Mesopotamian technological development was in learning how to administer an ever larger and more complex empire. The Mesopotamian empire reached its maximum expansion under Assyria in the seventh century B.C. Mesopotamia itself was to be in constant turmoil for the rest of its history, with less civilized but also less entropic groups constantly invading, destroying, and replacing the current Mesopotamian imperial dynasties.
The Akkadian empire lasted less than 200 years before it fell to Semitic, nomadic invaders, partially as a consequence of too rapid an expansion beyond its technical capacity to administer, but mostly due to the entropy of bureaucracy and hereditary rulers. The collapse of Akkad plus the negative feedback of having been conquered by a less civilized people gave one Sumerian city, Ur, the vitality to begin a new, vigorous Sumerian empire called Ur III. (For the third time the Sumerian kingship was in Ur.) It wasted considerable energy in temple building and lasted about 100 years. The Sumerians and the Akkadians, like all future imperial people, never learned that without continuous ordered expansion there is no security for any empire. After the collapse of Ur III the Sumerian people and spoken language quickly declined and disappeared.
Next, a new empire was formed north of Akkad with its center at Babylon. This and all future Mesopotamian empires were known as Babylonia, even when their capitals were in other cities. But before the formation of the first Babylonian empire, the collapsed civilization of Ur III produced a man who through his descendants was to alter the course of world history. He was Abraham, the patriarch of the Hebrews and Arabs.
The Babylonians were another Semitic people, closely related historically and linguistically to the Akkadians. They adapted the now familiar Sumerian-Akkadian cuneiform to their language and set about conquering Mesopotamia under the brilliant founder of the Babylonian Empire, Hamurabi, in the eighteenth century B.C. By this time the old Sumerian religion was an integral part of the culture of all the civilized people of Mesopotamia. They merely modified it by making the local chief deity (this was Marduk in Babylon) the king of all the gods in the Sumerian pantheon, but otherwise adopted all the entropic religious customs of the Sumerians. Although Hamurabi was a farsighted leader and brilliant administrator, none of his sons matched his brilliance, as would be predicted most likely from genetic theory [245, 389, 744]. The Babylonian empire collapsed shortly after Hamurabi's death and underwent a series of convulsions for the next 600 years until the rise of the Assyrians, who now played the role of the semicivilized neighbors of the Babylonian empire. But for the next 2,000 years Babylon was to remain the cultural center of Babylonia even when the Assyrians built their capital in Nineveh.
The Assyrians and the Aryans
The Assyrians, another Semitic people closely related to the Akkadians and Babylonians, were quick to assimilate the culture of Babylon (they had written in Akkadian since the nineteenth century B.C.) and may have succeeded to Hamurabi's empire since Shamshi-Abad I was the Assyrian leader at the time of Hamurabi and seems to have been his intellectual and ethical equal . However, at about the time that Hamurabi died, Mesopotamia was invaded by Aryan-speaking, nomadic barbarians who had invented a radical, new military technology - the war chariot. The Aryan languages are also known as "Indo-European."
At this time only the Aryans of the steppes of western Asia had extensively domesticated the horse and combined this biological machine with a light, spoke-wheeled chariot which represented a significant improvement over the original solid-wheeled ox-carts of the Sumerians. With this invention, they were able to decimate the Mesopotamian armies of foot soldiers. Indeed, the barbarian Aryan invaders spread as predators over the next 500 years throughout the civilized world.
These were the ancient Mycenaeans and later Dorian Hellenes who were to create classical Greece. These were the Aryans who were to create the classical Indian and Persian civilizations. These were the Hyksos (partially semitized) who conquered Egypt. These were the Tocharians who may have penetrated into China, introduced the Bronze Age and chariots, and founded the Shang dynasty, the first true Chinese empire. The preceding Hsia dynasty, apparently a matriarchy, only ruled over large neolithic villages. These were the Hittites who first smelted iron and formed the first purely Aryan civilization.
Whenever the Aryans met a well-established, advanced civilization, they became a ruling elite constituting a small minority of the population and were eventually totally absorbed by the civilization. This happened in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. In India, the Aryans formed the caste system in order to maintain their identity; but even here, after destroying the civilization of the culturally advanced, dark-skinned Dravidian people of the Indus Valley whom they apparently found repellent , they were genetically, if not linguistically, absorbed by the more civilized Dravidians who migrated to southern India after the destruction of their civilization (note that the Sanskrit word for caste is "varna," meaning "color"). In Europe, which was almost entirely barbarian except for the Minoan periphery of Greece, the Aryans represented the most civilized invaders who imposed their language and culture on the indigenous people.
We note that recent archaeological evidence indicates that the Minoans were a Semitic-speaking people. The Aryan invaders were the inheritors of the megalithic structures of Malta and Stonehenge. Some of the early Aryan religious customs survived among the Celtic druids. The only European groups to escape Aryanization at the time were the Basques. Recall that these may be direct descendants of the Cro-Magnon. Finns, Estonians, and Magyars, who are all linguistically related in the Fino-Ugric language group, are nonAryans who came to Europe later.
The Aryans conquered and were completely absorbed into the sumptuous civilization of Babylon under the Kassite dynasty; but the more primitive and vigorous Assyrians were never completely conquered, and they in turn absorbed the Aryan technology and in time surpassed it. The Assyrians became as proficient as the Aryans in breeding and domesticating horses and created the first war tactics using massed chariots. However, they were eventually to be undone in the seventh century B.C. by a new Aryan invention, light cavalry. In the meantime, the Assyrians learned about the smelting of iron from the Hittites, who were the most civilized Aryan group of the time. In 1370 B.C. the Assyrians began through fits and starts to create what by the seventh century B.C. would be the greatest empire the world had ever seen. They were aided in this by the successive waves of Aryan barbarians who continued to disrupt, albeit ever less effectively, the civilization of their more cultured cousins. The Hittites, who militarily defeated Ramses II in the twelfth century B.C. and formed alliances with Assyria, also served this purpose.
The Aryan barbarians would arrive full of primitive ethical vitality and overwhelming military superiority in the first wave. They were doing their best to extend their mastery over the total environment. They would then form a ruling elite and become civilized, parasitical, and corrupt, at which time they would be conquered by another Aryan wave which was now not so technically superior, although it might have more ethical vitality. Nothing corrupts a human being as much as having power by force over other human beings. Eventually, in each civilization, the Aryan invaders were repelled because they no longer had clear military superiority. In the sixteenth century B.C. the Egyptians revolted against and expelled the Hyksos, who were not really Aryans any more; they had became totally semitized and Egyptianized, but they were racially different and they were hated by the Egyptians. The Assyrians rose up against the Aryan invaders who were threatening to enslave them in the fourteenth century B.C., and thus they began to take the first steps toward the formation of the Assyrian Empire.
The Assyrians saw themselves as the ethnic, spiritual, and intellectual inheritors of the Babylonian Empire. They were pressed against the wall by the Aryan invaders and responded by defeating them and then extending their domain during the next six centuries until they had conquered all of the Middle East, Egypt, and even parts of Nubia and Ethiopia, from whom they collected tribute. However, the Assyrians were Babylonized and did not have the qualities of mind and ethics which produce inventiveness. Therefore, the Assyrian Empire was disrupted from the steppes by a new horde of Aryan invaders, the Scythians, who had two new inventions - saddles and mounted cavalry. It would be over 1,500 years before a Semitic people (the Arabs) would again be able to form an empire in opposition to the Aryan hegemony, and it would be a psychosocial innovation (Islam) which made it possible.
The smelting of iron was a critical invention developed sometime about the fourteenth century B.C. either among the Hittites or their more barbarous Aryan cousins. Iron was far more abundant than the constituents of bronze, which was the basis for the weaponry of the charioteers. Chariot weaponry was very expensive and limited to a small elite, which in turn made it possible for small numbers of barbarian nomads who hadthe chariots to "domesticate" civilized masses of human beings who did not have them. Civilized people represent a human analog of domesticated animals; wild animals are difficult to tame as are wild nomads and hunters. Therefore, the peculiar Aryan mental characteristics - they saw themselves as a "master race" destined to rule over the contemptible, inferior, civilized peasants and degenerate, soft imperial and priestly bureaucracies - lent themselves to the "new order." But the Aryans would quickly acquire the weaknesses of their civilized subjects and in the process often lose their major virtues of technical inventiveness and ethical vitality, albeit of a primitive kind.
The invention of iron smelting made it possible to democratize warfare so that every able-bodied man could wield a weapon and participate. This greatly increased the collective intelligence of the group by diffusing military knowledge and capabilities among the entire group. The first people to exploit this capability were the Hittites, who were able to defeat the armies of Ramses II in the 12th century B.C. because they had iron weapons while the Egyptians had ceased to innovate technologically. The Hittites tried to keep the smelting of iron a secret, but even though it was a complex process requiring systematic forging, quenching, and eventually alloying, the process was able to spread. By 800 B.C. it was known all over the civilized world and even in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The Assyrians used iron weapons to consolidate and spread their empire. However, mounted cavalry was an entirely new concept which caught the Assyrians unprepared.
The horse had been domesticated for over a thousand years. Horseback riding was known as early as 1900 B.C., but it had little military value because it was very easy to unseat a horseman. The invention of the saddle and the technique of shooting a short but powerful double-bent, compound bow from horseback while riding at full gallop gave tremendous military advantage to the highly maneuverable Scythian horsemen over the less maneuverable charioteers. The charioteers required two skilled men per chariot and a considerable capital investment. The Aryan steppe nomads lived in the midst of the largest horse herds in the world and could smelt the abundant iron ore. They combined these technologies to produce the first mounted cavalry around 900 B.C.
The nomads would sweep down from the steppes in groups of several thousand and plunder the civilized communities of the Middle East. (The Scythians were the source of the Centaur myths.) In the process they destroyed the Assyrian Empire. However, unlike the earlier Aryan invaders, the Scythians were totally contemptuous of their conquered subjects and refused to become civilized. Therefore, they violated the evolutionary ethic by not maximizing ethical intelligence, and they in turn were eventually to be destroyed by more civilized peoples who had mastered cavalry technology. The last Scythians were annihilated by the second century B.C. But before this happened a series of radical psychosocial mutations occurred throughout the civilized world that were forever to alter the mind of man.
An Ethical Singularity
In the sixth century B.C., all the civilized regions of the world within about 50 years of each other underwent an ethical revolution. In many different ways they invented a new dimensional quadrature of mind: morality - the ability to predict and control their own ethics. In China, Confucius, an impoverished nobleman, articulated the ethic that knowledge was the greatest good and that only the most knowledgeable and ethical men should be allowed to govern other men. Among all knowledge, the most important was how persons may live in harmony with one another and with nature. Confucius incorporated this ethic into five books which served as a guide to personal conduct and government in China for 2,500 years and became the basis of Chinese civilization for the last 2,000 years.
In India, Siddhartha, a Hindu prince, later Gautama Buddha, articulated the ethic that the source of all knowledge came from within the self and that through self-discipline, meditation, and ethical behavior a person could become one with the universe and lose oneself within the cosmic force, thereby avoiding the endless cycle of death and rebirth, which the Hinduized Aryans of India believed to be the common lot of humanity. The ultimate goal of life was truth and truth came from within one's self. Ultimate reality was subjective and mystical, not objective and scientific. This ethic, in various forms, became the basis of the civilizations of India, Tibet, and southeast Asia and persists to the present time. In much more limited forms, it was incorporated into Japan under Zen Buddhism in the ninth century A.D., where it was hybridized with Shintoism and the Japanese code of Bushido.
In Persia (Iran) an Aryan prophet, Zoroaster Spitama, proclaimed the religion of Zoroastrianism, which saw the world divided in an eternal conflict between two cosmic forces - life, light, truth, order, and goodness (evolution) on one side, and death, darkness, falsehood, disorder, and evil (entropy) on the other side. The personification of goodness and all creation was Ahura Mazda (God and the only object worthy of veneration). The personification of evil and all destruction was in Ahriman (the devil and constant enemy of all good men). The greatest evil that a human being could do was to lie and destroy; he thereby aided Ahriman and the forces of evil. The greatest good that a human being could do was to spread truth and create; he thereby aided Ahura Mazda in his battle against Ahriman. When a person died, his acts were judged by Ahura Mazda and according to the value of his life he either became part of the kingdom of light and truth or was condemned to eternal horror and darkness. There were simple rituals associated with Zoroastrianism involving purification and holy fire and certain taboos such as not burning or burying corpses or in other ways polluting the sacred earth or defiling the holy fire, which as a source oflight was an emanation of Ahura Mazda. But the basis of Zoroastrianism lay in personal ethical action and the search for truth. Zoroastrianism formed the ethical and religious basis for the Persian empire and remained the official religion of Iran until it was forcibly supplanted by Islam 1,200 years later. It still survives today in Iran (with difficulty) and among the Parsis of Bombay, who are among the most creative and progressive people in India.
In Babylon, the enslaved Hebrew exiles, who had been captured and deported from Judea (589 B.C.) by Nebuchadnezzar fifty years after the fall of Assyria and the formation of the second Babylonian empire, took their primitive tribal worship of the immaterial war God, Yahweh, and the corresponding rituals and combined them with Babylonian myths and ethics to create the first truly monotheistic religion. Recall that the Garden of Eden fable and the story of Noah are traceable to the Sumerians, who also worshiped invisible gods. This is opposed to the monolatry of Atonism in Egypt and the essential dualism of Zoroastrianism. The myths surrounding Sargon I were similar to those of Moses. The later Jews saw God as a universal, abstract force that could not be represented by visual imagery but which was the single cause behind all events - good and evil. The purpose of man was not to try to seek favor with God, but to obey his laws as ends in themselves. Buddhism, Judaism, and to a lesser extent Zoroastrianism were the first religions which saw ethical behavior as an end in itself and not as a means for obtaining divine rewards. It is likely that Zoroastrianism and Judaism influenced each other in Babylonia when the Persians freed the Jews from slavery. The Babylonian enslavement convinced many Jews that ritualistic behavior and obedience to religious law alone would not ensure them any benefit. Therefore, these enslaved Jews - who looked upon the idolatrous Babylonians, with their institutionalized temple prostitution, animal and occasionally human sacrifices and fertility rituals, as their spiritual inferiors but obvious military and intellectual superiors - began to recast their self-image as a spiritual people chosen by God not for worldly favor but to set an example of moral rectitude for the rest of mankind by living in strict accordances with God's commandments. The Ten Commandments themselves, as well as many other Jewish ethical imperatives, are directly derivable from the evolutionary ethic and/or the Eight Ethical Principles.
The ethical stoicism and abstract nature of Judaism were to serve as a psychosocial catalyst in human history, completely analogous to the role of enzymes in living creatures. From this time on the Jews would catalyze and accelerate the rate of human evolution. Almost every important psychosocial mutation (for better or worse) of the last 2,500 years has intimately involved the Jews. This includes the synthesis of Christianity, Islam, scientific ethics (Spinoza), modern science (Einstein), psychology (Freud), and communism (Marx and Engels). No other religious group has ever beenable to maintain its identity under such adverse circumstances for so long. The special role of Judaism in psychosocial evolution is discussed later. Judaism was to become a synergetic catalyst to the separate but equally important ethical and psychosocial mutation which was occurring in Greece at the same time.
The barbaric Aryans, in successive waves starting in the seventeenth century B.C., conquered Greece and the surrounding Minoan civilization, which was of Semitic origin and just as complex as those in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Greeks were able to form a civilization which was to become the top rung of the ladder of psychosocial evolution. What gave this culture its unique characteristic was the influence of Thales in the sixth century B.C.
Thales was a widely traveled Greek merchant, possibly of Semitic ancestry, who was familiar with all the cultures of the Middle East and of Egypt. He postulated that humanity could learn about all aspects of nature, including itself, by rational inquiry and needed no divine revelation or guidance. Truth was the highest goal, and rational inquiry was the way to reach it. Toward this end Thales began to axiomatize the empirical geometry of the Egyptians and Babylonians and created theoretical mathematics, one of the cornerstones of systematic science. At the same time he and a small circle of friends (the pre-Socratics) began to explore the physical, biological, and psychosocial worlds, asking why things are as they are. Their answers were in remarkable agreement with modern science. Thales assumed that the universe was governed not by the capricious whims of anthropomorphic Gods but by rational laws, just as the egalitarian, democratic societies of the sixth century B.C. Greek city-states were governed by rational laws, not by the capricious whims of kings and tyrants.
This new, atheistic, rationalistic view of the world was as radical and far reaching in its psychosocial consequences as was the creation of language by early Homo sapiens or the creation of civilization by the Sumerians. This view, which is the essence of Greek philosophy, initiated a period of intense creativity in Greece which led in only 300 years to the creation of the foundations of Western civilization. Socrates turned rational inquiry onto ethics and explored for the first time the ethical nature of humanity in a rational way. This is morality, the ability to predict and control our own ethics.
Greek philosophy faltered during the Roman period and the semibarbaric Middle Ages, but it was revived with renewed vigor during the Renaissance 2,000 years later. It has led to the modern world. In time, Western civilization became so superior that all other civilizations had to copy it or be overwhelmed. Modern science, which is a direct consequence of Greek philosophy, in the last 300 years has increased collective human intelligence more than all the previous civilizations of history combined. However, modern science has one additional element which was missing from Greek philosophy - the notion of objective, experimental verification for all models of nature. More will be said of this later. For now we merely note that traditional Greek philosophy, when joined with the ethical direction of Judaism and its psychosocial mutations, is the psychosocial basis of current human evolution.
Some final observations about the world ethical singularity which occurred in the sixth century B.C. must include the following. While the ethical revolution was beginning in Eurasia, the first true civilizations, Maya in Mexico and Nazca in Peru, were beginning independently and coming to fruition in the Americas in very much the same way that Sumer developed. Taoism, the ethically mystical but highly creative, complementary rival of Confucianism, also began at this time in China under the influence of Lao-Tse, a contemporary of Confucius. In Greece, and later southern Italy, Pythagoras began the Western mystical tradition and created a mathematical religion in creative harmony with and complementary to Greek philosophy. Taoism and Pythagorism show how ethics, mysticism, and reason can interact synergistically to maximize creativity.
An extraterrestrial observer looking at all the developments of the sixth century B.C. might have been hard put to predict which of the ethical systems would lead to the most progressive civilization. Each had inherent weaknesses, and indeed it was not any one whose progeny made it to the top of the evolutionary ladder but rather a complex hybrid which occurred between Greek civilization, Judaism, and, to a much lesser extent, Zoroastrianism. From an evolutionary, ethical perspective we can immediately see what these major weaknesses were.
Confucianism violated the sixth Ethical Principle. Independently of whatever Confucius may have actually said, Confucianism eventually developed the certainty that all important truth was contained in Confucius' five books and the corresponding "Classics." The greatest wisdom according to Confucius had been a product of China's past. The Chinese became disdainful of any outside cultural developments and gave overwhelming importance to a self-perpetuating bureaucracy of smug, self-satisfied Confucist scholars, which ceased to be creative. They did not doubt their own knowledge (sixth Ethical Principle). Still, Confucianism was clearly in at least partial agreement with the evolutionary ethic and put a high value on truth - even if it had a very limited view of what truth was. During the T'ang dynasty of 1,200 years ago, the Chinese may have been the most culturally advanced, civilized people on earth, and they were clearly highly creative. Chinese creativity owed much to the Taoist traditions. Among the Chinese inventions by the time of the T'ang dynasty or soon afterwards were the compass, gun powder, printing, papermaking,and other practical technologies. Yet they lacked the special, vital spark which had characterized classical Greece and was to be even more marked in the Renaissance and its consequent era. Confucianism eventually ended in a sterile bureaucracy, unable to resist Western culture until it was overwhelmed by a new Western ethical system and religion, communism. Confucianism still has much to offer in terms of personal ethics and as a guide to social conduct. It is hybridizable and compatible with objective evolutionary ethics. It is ethically superior to Marxism.
Buddhism valued truth and had an ethical code in harmony with the evolutionary ethic, Buddha's eight-fold path. It is admirable in being the only major religion that did not systematically persecute people because of their religious beliefs. However, Buddhism was an evolutionary deadend because it induced its practitioners to disregard the objective world. It represented an extreme form of psychosocial specialization which closed the human mind to objective reality. This diminished creativity for all who would fall into the entropic trap of self-delusion through specialization in subjective truth. The basic goal of Buddhism was to eliminate suffering through eternal death by eliminating all desire and the abolition of the ego. Since the desire for creativity must be maximized, not minimized, this was in violation of the evolutionary ethic. Buddhism decreased creativity through psychosocial specialization and by valuing the absence of suffering more than the presence of creativity, thereby violating the second and fourth Ethical Principles respectively. Buddhism induced a passive, contemplative life of inaction, thereby increasing the entropy of society through violation of the eighth Ethical Principle. The fourth Ethical Principle is further violated by a plethora of useless rituals such as prayer-wheel spinning, monastic begging, and other prayer rituals. There has never been a Buddhist civilization that was technologically innovative, with the partial exception of the Asoka kingship in India, which ruled the Hindu majority who were more dynamic and creative.
India was able to temporarily avoid the irreversible entropy of Buddhism by hybridizing it with the older, more primitive but more action-oriented Aryan traditions. (We note that Buddha was an Aryan; his philosophy is sometimes called the "Aryan Way.") The Hindu scriptures are constantly extolling ethical action as an end in itself. "There are no means but only ends," says Lord Krishna to Arjuna . Karma Yoga is the pursuit of ethical action without fear of punishment or expectation of reward. But still the Buddhist attitude became entrenched in India, and it spread, even if it was not called Buddhism. Today we can see thousands of Indian mystics living lives of inaction and contemplation, impervious to their own decay and that of their society. But prior to this, India was a highly creative society, particularly in the field of mathematics. India still produces through Western cultures some exceptionally brilliant mathematicians and theorists, e.g., Ramanujan, Raman, Bose, and Chandrasekhar.
In Japan, Buddhism took a peculiar twist in Zen Buddhism, which came by way of China, like almost everything else in traditional Japanese culture. Zen Buddhism was action-oriented. In Japan the Zen view became that one reached enlightenment through personal perfection. This produced a disciplined mentality which sought to become highly proficient in a narrow specialty. It was particularly well suited to the military code of Bushido. It produced superb warriors, artists, artisans, and businessmen, but it destroyed the imagination by narrowing the mind to concentrate on one small aspect of the total environment and in the end decreased creativity by producing a society that could perfect any technology but could invent nothing of its own. In today's Japan, if we take away from the culture what was created by China and then what was created by Western civilization, we are left with virtually zero. Still the Japanese are a dynamic and vigorous people who may reverse their way by refusing to allow their society and the world to cast them into a specialized mold. The Japanese are highly creative outside of Japanese culture. Buddhism is not central to Japanese civilization, and as such it has not led to irreversible entropy there, as it did in Tibet and southeast Asia. Still the worst persecutions in the name of Buddhism were committed by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 17th century against Japanese Christians in order to consolidate its political hegemony.
Zoroastrianism, on the surface, seems like the system most compatible ethicoreligiously with objective evolutionary ethics - particularly if we interpret Ahura Mazda and Ahriman symbolically as figurative representations of the basic cosmic processes of evolution and entropy respectively. We also note that the prime ethic of Zoroastrianism, the maximization of truth, is in close correspondence with the evolutionary ethic. However, Zoroastrianism developed a weakness which may or may not have been inherent in Zoroaster's design. Zoroastrianism was ethnocentric. It was created by and for Persians and admitted no converts, at least not officially. This made the system closed to the rest of humanity. As in the case of all closed systems, it developed irreversible entropy by violating the first and fourth Ethical Principles. One cannot maximize ethical intelligence in a civilization if one systematically excludes all ethical persons who wish to join it but who were not born into it. This is a means which is not an end. The fourth Ethical Principle is also violated by the compulsive, ritualistic behavior which became entrenched in the Zoroastrian religion. Humanity has a tendency to become addicted to useless ritual which is substituted for ethical action. A modern version is television viewing.
Still the Persian civilization was highly ethical and progressive for 1,200 years (e.g., they invented the windmill). Once Zoroastrianism became the chief religion, the Persians drove back the Scythians and took over what had been the Assyrian Empire and then expanded it. Eventually they were to invent the technology of heavy cavalry, which was copied bythe armored knights of Europe. They were tolerant of other religions and built a civilization which survived the Greek conquest of the late fourth century B.C. Persia remained Persia and progressed until the seventh century A.D., when Islam began the systematic destruction of the highly bureaucratized Zoroastrian civilization. Islam was a less creative but more genetically open civilization than Zoroastrian Persia. However, Islam was totally closed religiously to new ethical ideas.
Today Parsis are among the most artistically creative and progressive people in India, being among the best educated and most industrious. But they are an inbred, genetically degenerate minority full of congenital defects and diseases. The Parsis are becoming extinct because their death rate is higher than their birth rate and they accept no converts with which to hybridize and improve their genetic stock.
Judaism eventually emphasized ethical behavior as an end in itself, not as a way of avoiding punishment or receiving rewards. It emphasized mutual ethical obligations. However, Judaism violated the fourth Ethical Principle by its compulsive, ritualistic behavior, which sapped the creative energies of its people. The Jews also violated the second Ethical Principle by becoming intellectually specialized (recall that specialization is always destructive) in analyzing their own religion to the exclusion of other fields of knowledge. Therefore, a disproportionate number of highly intelligent Jews have historically remained ignorant of all intellectual developments outside of their religion. The Jews were unable to resist successfully the Roman conquests and the dismemberment of their nation 600 years after the Persians had freed them from Babylonian captivity. We note that the Romans were never able to conquer Persia. It was only when Judaism became hybridized with a culture which incorporated Greek philosophy in some form, and at the same time gave Jews an opportunity to participate in this culture, that Jews relaxed their ritualistic compulsiveness and began to acquire knowledge outside of their religion.
In this way, the Jews catalyzed other civilizations, but they could not catalyze themselves. The Roman destruction of the Jewish nation made inevitable the hybridization of Greek philosophy with Jewish ethics through Christianity. When this happened, the Jews would catalyze their host culture and make it evolve or decay more rapidly. This happened in parts of the Roman Empire, particularly Alexandria. This happened in Islam. Then it happened predominantly in the Protestant countries of Europe, but also in the Catholic countries. It happened in 15th century Spain and 20th century Germany. It is happening today in the United States and the Soviet Union. About half of the Nobel Prize winners in science and economics have been Jewish, although the Jews are less than 0.025% of the world's population. The Jews are about 35% of the persons listed in Who's Who in the United States, although they are less than 3% of the U.S. population. They have played a similar role in the Soviet Union. Relative to their numbers the Jews are by far the most creative persons on earth. They catalyze other nations through their creativity.
The creativity of the Jews is due to ethics and natural selection. Once the Jews became a persecuted minority in Christendom, there was an enormous economic and social advantage to being converted to the local sect of Christianity. The only reason for resisting was because of the higher ethical standards of Judaism, which was not guided by extrinsic rewards and punishments. At the same time Jews had to be highly intelligent to survive the persecution by their Christian neighbors. Therefore, only persons who were both highly ethical and intelligent, i.e., highly creative, could survive as Jews. Otherwise, Christians remained Christians; unethical Jews became apostates or converted to Christianity; and the less intelligent Jews died. Conversely, only the most ethical of Christians would reject the security of Christianity and convert to the religion of a despised minority. Therefore, through ethical choice and natural selection the Jews became highly creative, although clearly not all Jews have been ethical. The worst persecutors of Spinoza were the Jews themselves . Fear never brings out the best in people.
Greek philosophy had everything except the ethical direction which so characterized the Jews. The Greeks valued truth as a means to achieve individual superiority. They had little love or compassion for others. They were indeed arrogant and overbearing toward each other. They lived parasitically within a slave-based society, eighty percent of which consisted of ruthlessly exploited slaves, thereby violating the third Ethical Principle. Without a unifying ethical code in harmony with the evolutionary ethic that stressed mutual ethical obligations, the Greek city-states broke down into squabbles among themselves. The Greeks were unable to become freely united into a single civilization because they lacked love for one another and lacked love even more for non-Greeks, all of whom they considered inferior barbarians, virtual subhumans. Eventually a semi-barbaric people on the fringe of the Hellenic world - the Macedonians - played the now familiar historic role of conquering their teachers and ethnic cousins, thereby uniting them by force. But it is unethical to force people to participate in a unified culture and unethical means cannot achieve ethical ends (third Ethical Principle). Therefore, the Greek empire, the greatest in history to that time, disintegrated in the same generation that it was created by Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander.
From this time forward, the influence of Greek philosophy was to steadily decline, until it was revitalized by the Renaissance 1,800 years later. Nevertheless, the Greeks produced the most creative civilization of the ancient world. Part of this spirit is captured in Greek art, drama, and architecture, but most of all in the philosophy of the pre-Socratics (sixth and fifth centuries B.C.), the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (fourth century B.C.), the mathematics of Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes (third century B.C.), and the school of Alexandria, which continued to increase human creativity well into the Christian era.
The Prelude to Christianity
Christianity represented the first hybrid offspring of Greek philosophy and Judaism. Unfortunately it also incorporated some of the worst elements of both, the intolerance of Judaism plus the abstract mysticism and pathological antisexuality of Plato. Therefore, Christianity had mixed results. But in order to see Christianity in a proper perspective we will first consider the evolutionary environment into which Christianity was born.
The religious degeneracy of Mesopotamia has already been discussed. However, this was not the only great civilization of the area which had been destroyed by religious bureaucracy. Classical Egypt began, at least in part, as a cultural offspring of Sumer at the end of the fourth millennium B.C. (the unification of the upper and lower Egypt in the old kingdom under Menes). Egypt and Sumer had been active trading partners for centuries. But, as is often the case, Egypt took mainly the material culture of Sumer and not its ethico-religious system. The Egyptians lived in the best possible geographical location for civilization to develop. The extremely fertile Nile valley was 600 miles long, protected from invaders by sea, deserts, and mountains, and it was provided with a natural transportation system in which ships could effortlessly coast down the Nile from upper Egypt to lower Egypt and sail up the Nile almost as effortlessly from the constant winds blowing toward the south.
Transportation along the Nile was the key to the control of Egypt. This made it easy for a single administrative center to control the country and all its cities (a goal never achieved by the Sumerians) through a few garrisons strategically placed along the Nile. However, the religion made it even easier to control the people.
The overwhelming goal of Egyptian society, apparently from early neolithic times, was immortality. The Pharaoh was a God-King who was himself immortal after death and could grant immortality after death at will to any of his subjects. By dangling the reward of immortality before his subjects the Pharaoh could make them do almost anything he wanted, including building some of the most massive structures ever conceived - structures which must have taken tens of thousands of laborers many decades to construct.
The vitality of Egyptian civilization was limited entirely to its beginnings. Almost every innovation in Egypt was developed during the old kingdom, which, after incorporating Sumerian technology between 3,500 B.C. and 3,000 B.C., lasted 700 years more. During this time, architectural masterpieces were built, and the Egyptians produced their own inventions. The most vigorous art was produced in the beginning. Art became formal, stiff, and graceless near the end of the old kingdom and for all subsequent generations, except during the brief experiment with Atonism.
After the creative spurt of the old kingdom, Egypt was a living mummy which created nothing new and for which all activities centered on the preparation for death. In the 13th century B.C. the Pharaoh Amenmesses tried to change Egypt into a life-oriented, monotheistic society worshiping Aton, the Sun God, but the priestly bureaucracy subverted him and he failed. However, this was a period of renewed vigor which followed the Hyksos invasion and the consequent introduction of negative feedback into Egyptian society. But the old, tenacious, religious bureaucracy hung on in a decaying society through all the conquests of Hyksos, Assyrians, Persians, Ethiopians, Lybians, Nubians, Greeks, and Romans which followed. The conquerors found the Pharaonic cult too convenient to discard, and the priests were always ready to cooperate with any conqueror who would protect their privileges. Therefore, Egyptian civilization continued to die until it was given the coup de grace by Rome and Christianity. Egypt in general and Alexandria in particular were important in developing early Christianity. When the Arabs conquered Egypt in the seventh century they had no trouble imposing Islam on an apathetic population. Alexandria remained a creative Hellenistic outpost on the periphery of Egyptian entropy after a Christian mob burned the great pagan library and lynched Hypatia in the fourth century A.D., but eventually it also decayed. The unique civilization which had been Egypt fell a victim to the religion which was the source of its unique and initial creativity but also a cause for its downfall.
Rome had the same relationship to the Greeks that the Mesopotamian Semites had to the Sumerians. Rome added little or nothing to Greek culture; it merely administered it more efficiently and spread it over a wider area. The Romans were better organizers and engineers than the Greeks. They had a stronger sense of peoplehood than the Greeks. The major contribution of Rome was to spread Greek culture to the barbarians of Western Europe and to protect it in Egypt, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Rome had no guiding ethic other than the accumulation and consolidation of power for the benefit of the state. But the early Romans had a strong sense of honor and duty. As is always the case, power without ethical purpose corrupts without limit until it destroys. Rome became a victim not so much of religion as of a lack of ethics.
Initially the Romans were an open, reasonably democratic society. The general citizenry felt an ethical obligation to the state. Then it became a materialistic, expansionist society. The people became at first hedonistic with no objective other than pleasure, and finally then became mystical. In the last decaying days of the Roman Empire, the Romans, particularly the upper classes, were obsessed with mysticism, magic, the occult, and other escapist fantasies just as had been the Babylonians in their days of decline, and as were the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, Indians, and Chinese in their decline. Many civilizations become mystically specialized when they go into final irreversible decline. Mysticism without science is an evolutionary deadend.
It was at this time, the fourth century, that Christianity, which was popular among the lower classes, became the official religion. The Emperor, Constantine, the son of a Christian slave woman who had been a concubine to a Roman general, found it expedient to use Christianity to control his rebellious troops, who were largely Christianized. He thereby consolidated his not-too-firm hold on the Empire. Christianity came too late to save Rome from barbarian conquest, but it came in time to save Greek philosophy and hybridized Jewish ethics for Western civilization.
What gives any civilization its unique character and direction is its ethico-religious system. Technology itself is easily transferable, if not easily invented. Western civilization, as we know it today, was shaped and continues to be shaped by Christianity. On the surface Christianity controlled the masses in the same way as had the Pharaohs - by promising them immortality and eternal happiness in a heavenly paradise, if they obeyed the Church hierarchy. If they disobeyed the Church hierarchy, they were promised damnation to a hell of eternal, hideous torture. Once this ideology spread through the Roman world and its barbarian periphery over a period of about 700 years, it became a most effective unifying force, just as it had been in Egypt. Even kings and princes bowed to the authority of the Church when they were threatened with excommunication and eternal damnation - though not always, since there are always skeptics in any civilization.
When skeptical Holy Roman Emperors defied Popes Innocent III and Innocent IV in the 13th century, they found that their own vassals and subject kings and princes would not obey them because they feared excommunication even if the Emperors themselves did not. Therefore, kings and emperors had to obey the Pope, if for no other reason than that of political expediency.
The same barbarian conquerors who had destroyed the Roman Empire in a series of waves, until Rome itself was sacked by Alaric and his Visigoths in 460, were in turn Christianized and became subject to Church control. This is the same pattern followed by the conquerors in Mesopotamia and Egypt. We note that when persons are brought into close, prolonged contact with an emotionally more satisfying religion advocated by aculturally superior people, they will voluntarily convert to it unless they have a highly ethical religion themselves. The only dangers to the hegemony of the Church were rival religions which made the same or better promises and which could, as a consequence, get control over the population. When such religions would arise, usually produced as variants on the Christian faith by a Christian priest, the Church hierarchy would merely denounce this as heresy and imprison or, more commonly, kill the heretics involved. This effectively destroyed any negative feedback to the religion until the rise of Islam.
Islam played an important role in the development of Western civilization by (1) serving as a source of negative feedback to Christendom and (2) transmitting ancient Greek and Chinese knowledge plus Hindu mathematics to the Christian countries. The so-called "Arabic numerals" as well as algebra were Hindu creations, which the Islamic Arabs adopted and then further developed. Trigonometry was a late Greek invention produced through the school of Alexandria. Therefore, the Islamic Arabs for all their military vigor were fundamentally not significant technological innovators.
Starting in the seventh century the Islamic armies swept all opposition before them, and by the end of the eighth century they were the inheritors of the Persian Empire as well as a large piece of the Roman Empire.
The more civilized Persians quickly replaced the Arabs as the intellectual leaders in Islam once they had become Muslims. The major Persian contribution was the creation of ethical mysticism through Sufism, particularly the transcendent poetry of Rumi. But this was an anergistic hybridization which destroyed the ethical Zoroastrian civilization and increased Islamic entropy. The defeated, converted Persians brought a mystical, fatalistic element which corrupted the basic simplicity of Islam and turned it into another evolutionary deadend, as Omar Khayyam's poetry shows:
Hither and thither moves and mates, and slays,
'Tis all a chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the closet lays.
The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy tears wash out a Word of it.
- from The Rubaiyat
Only in Islamic Iberia, in the high-feedback environment of competing Christians, Jews, and Moslems, did human knowledge continue to advance significantly in the Western world.
When the Eastern Roman Empire split ecclesiastically from the Roman Church in the 11th century, it continued as a repository of ancient knowledge; but it became another fossilized, uncreative civilization with a huge, corrupt religious-political bureaucracy living on its past glories, slowly crumbling before the onslaught of Islam until it was destroyed and conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. In the meantime, the Arabs became inheritors of Byzantine science and technology, particularly the school of Alexandria. The Ottoman Empire represented the height of Islamic power long after Islam had become a destructive force which created nothing and destroyed ethical intelligence through psychosocial specialization, i.e., specialized mysticism and fatalism. Although the Arabs had cherished Greek knowledge and improved upon it, the Turks nearly destroyed it when they burned the library of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), which contained original manuscripts by Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, and others.
The appeal of Islam was in its basic simplicity. There was but one God, Allah, and Mohammed was his prophet. Mohammed was the seal of the prophets and no one had anything to add to his revelation (violates E.P. 6). His revelation included an all-encompassing ritualistic way of life (violates E.P. 4), which one either had to totally accept or totally reject. Those who accepted it eventually closed their collective mind to new knowledge and became evolutionary deadends. Islamic civilization never produced any significant technological innovations. After the thirteenth century in Spain, it did not even produce any significant improvements on what already existed. Still, Islam was theologically, not ethically, superior to Christianity. It took the Christians almost 1,300 years before they dominated Islam, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the first World War.
Christianity developed more slowly than Islam but more surely. Until the 13th century, Islamic civilization would have appeared to any casual observer as clearly superior to Christian civilization.
Islam led in many types of technology, mathematics, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, and architecture. It produced more wealth and embraced more people and territory than Christianity. Its physician-philosophers, such as Avicenna in Persia, then Averroes in Spain, incorporated the Aristotelian tradition, and made philosophical and medical contributions of their own. Islam was the teacher of Europe. Islam was more religiously tolerant than Christianity and would allow Christians, Zoroastrians, and Jews to live within its confines with relatively little harrassment other than extra taxes. Yet it was Christendom that was to occupy the upper rung of the evolutionary ladder and not Islam. The reason was ethical.
The ethical position of Islam was simple. One obeyed the Koran fully and totally or one was outside of the pale. There was nothing that one couldcontribute of an ethical nature to the Koran. Mohammed by his own alleged words was the seal of the prophets. The Koran itself incorporated beautifully expressed, sound ethical and theological principles derived from Judaism and to a lesser extent from Christianity and Zoroastrianism; but it was extremely destructive to believe that any revelation, however beautiful and rational, could possibly incorporate all important truth. Yet this is what the devout Moslem was forced to believe. It destroyed his imagination with certitude (violates E.P. 6). It closed the spirit as well as the mind. All closed systems have irreversible entropy. Islam degraded women, violating E.P. 2. Islam also promised an eternal paradise of unbridled hedonism after death to the faithful, particularly those who died in battle while propagating the faith. This tended to induce pseudoethical behavior as a means to an end, not as an end in itself, thereby reducing the true evolutionary ethical effect of the religion (E.P. 4). Any ethical system which uses reward and punishment to control its adherents destroys their true ethics. The only enduring ethical contribution of Islam may be in the Sufi tradition of rational, mystical inquiry into ethics. Islam, through Sufism, can be hybridized with evolutionary ethics if Muslims recognize that the maximization of creativity is the only will of God; we never put any revelation above our conscience.
As the ethical foundation of Western civilization, Christianity was a true fusion and synthesis of much that was best and worst in Greek philosophy and Judaism, as well as elements of Zoroastrianism. It had the ethical base of Judaism in the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It also had the intolerance of Judaism toward other religions and deviant, not necessarily destructive, behavior. It had the analytic, rational tradition of Greek philosophy, but it also had some of the fatalistic mysticism of the Pythagoreans and the pathological antisexuality of the Platonists (came directly from Saint Paul). This led to the view that women were less worthy than men, e.g., women were not admitted to the priesthood. However, women were not degraded as in Islam. Therefore, Christianity was to have mixed results. What was best in Christianity came directly from the teachings of Jesus. What was worst came primarily from the teachings of Saint Paul and the bureaucracy that succeeded him.
The teachings of Jesus are simple, direct, and extremely ethical, i.e., in harmony with the evolutionary ethic and the Eight Ethical Principles. They are summarized in the Sermon on the Mount. They were made even more succinct shortly before Jesus' death. Near the end of the Gospel of John, when he is asked by his disciples what commandments he leaves them, he gives them only one commandment: "This is my Commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you." He again almost immediately repeats, "These things I command you that ye love one another" (John 15:12, 17). The only ambiguity is what Jesus meant by "love." However, his life explains his meaning of love. He taught and spoke the truth; he gave negative feedback sometimes through harsh criticism to persons who were destructive; he judged acts, not persons; he healed the sick; and he fed the hungry. Above all he taught that we should forgive and love our enemies, an extremely radical teaching among Jews, Greeks, and Romans - although 600 years earlier Buddha had taught that we should always return good for evil. This is a practical and emotional equivalent to the evolutionary ethic that we must maximize creativity. We maximize creativity by doing our best to increase the ethics of all persons, including our enemies (i.e., destructive persons), and the intelligence of ethical persons (remember,C = IE). To love a person is to do one's best to maximize that person's creativity. Yet how many self-proclaimed Christians have loved their enemies? How many alleged Christians have been Christians out of a fear of hell and a promise of heaven?
The basic corruption of Christianity came from using punishment (hell) and reward (heaven) as a means of controlling human behavior. Means which are not ends are never ethical. The essence of ethical behavior is that it must be pursued as an end in itself without fear of punishment or expectation of reward. Otherwise the religion quickly degenerates into inducing pseudoethical behavior and empty ritual. Those conditioned by reward and punishment will then substitute repetitive rituals for ethical behavior and in the process destroy their creativity. This happened to both Islam and Christianity.
Christianity was much more open, ethically, than Islam even if it was less tolerant of religious competition. It did not assume that revelation ended with the life of Jesus. Indeed the Church hierarchy was constantly interpreting the Scriptures and deducing new norms of behavior. Sometimes this was done by sincere theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas, who wanted to better understand the Will of God. At other times, it was done for economic or political expediency, as when the Church hierarchy would sell indulgences so that persons could, in effect, buy their way out of purgatory - a temporary hell for Catholic sinners who were repentant - or when the Church hierarchy would excommunicate an otherwise ethical Christian king who would not toe the line. Therefore, the Christian religion, unlike Islam, was constantly evolving. The Christian Church also reproduced, first during the East/West schism in the eleventh century and then on a larger scale after the Reformation in the sixteenth century. It should be noted that although Islamic sects did form, the interpretation of the Koran remained essentially the same in them. It was mostly the interpretation of who was the legitimate inheritor of Mohammed (the Caliph or Imam) that changed. The Koran itself was rigid and eternal. It did not evolve and neither did Islam. We recall that in order for a system to evolve by natural selection it must remain open by mutation, reproduction, and death. Christianity had these features. Islam did not.
Once the barbarian hordes were contained and Europe was totally Christianized, except for Spain and Portugal by the eleventh century, the Catholic Church became a highly progressive force - unifying people, educating, building magnificent cathedrals. The latter elevated the human spirit and formed the basic force for research and development in science, art, and technology.
From long before the time of Thomas Aquinas (13th century) considerable intellectual energy in the Greek tradition went into theological analysis of Catholicism; this was much less true of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which focused (specialized) more on mystical contemplation than analysis. Although theological analysis was often an empty exercise, it developed the analytical skills of educated people (mostly priests) and stimulated them to look in new directions, primarily by analyzing the nature of God and ethics. All the great European universities were formed originally as theological centers which combined the Greek analytic tradition with the Jewish tradition of religious interpretation.
The closest thing to theological analysis that has objective ethical value, as opposed to the subjective value of theology, is mathematical analysis. Therefore, mathematics began a rapid development in European universities in complete harmony with theology. Both mathematics and theology could analyze the nature of infinity and the philosophical basis of truth as did Thomas Aquinas. By the 15th century, the Europeans were clearly ahead of the rest of the world in mathematics.
The science which most easily lends itself to mathematical treatment is astronomy. Furthermore, astronomy was considered important for navigation, calendar making, and, ironically, also for astrology, a widespread pagan belief inherited from the Babylonians and officially condemned by the Church. According to astrological theory, if one could predict precisely the paths of the planets, one could also precisely predict the future. (Many intelligent, educated persons still believe this objectively false nonsense, particularly in regard to personality development and how the planets affect certain personalities at birth and in the future.) More objectively important, if one could determine one's position precisely relative to a fixed group of stars at a given time, one could navigate precisely. Considerable effort thus went into the development of mathematical models of the solar system and the construction of precise clocks and observational instruments, eventually including the telescope and the sextant. This in turn led to mathematical treatments of simple physical phenomena, such as the movement of a pendulum, which in turn led to better clocks. Once this line of inquiry began, there was no end to it. It soon became clear, or so it seemed, that with enough time and effort all the physical universe could eventually be understood, predicted, and controlled through the application of mathematics, science, and technology. The Greek philosophical spirit had been rekindled again but with a new and very important twist.
Greek philosophy sought explanations which were merely reasonable in view of what men knew, or could imagine. The systematic science that was gestating in Europe sought explanations not merely that were rational and aesthetically appealing, but which had practical results. That is, they had to improve one's ability to predict and control in the objective world. This produced an interplay between science and technology in which each reinforced the other. Note that science predicts the environment and technology is a process for using science to control the environment. By definition, what scientists (called natural philosophers until recent times) wanted to do was to increase objective truth.
An emotionally or theologically more satisfying scientific model would be sacrificed if another model made better predictions. For practical, not theoretical reasons, the Church-approved model of the geocentric universe did not make as good predictions of astronomical events as did the heliocentric model. Therefore, the scientific paradigm said the Church must be wrong. This drove one more nail into the coffin of the Catholic hierarchy, particularly since the Inquisition foolishly persecuted Galileo for his heliocentric model and made a martyr out of him. The other nails had been driven by theologians.
As the Europeans were slowly developing scientific knowledge and questioning the nature of the universe, the theologians had carried theological analysis to its logical conclusion and were questioning all interpretations of the Church. The Church propounded and the good Christian accepted the ethic that truth was good and falsehood was evil. This gave Christianity an ethical basis. Christianity also conserved the teachings of Jesus in the Bible, although it did not follow the prime commandment of Jesus to love everyone including our enemies.
The literal-minded and primitively ethical northern Europeans, unlike their more figuratively-minded, sophisticated, and possibly more ethically degenerate southern European cousins, could not quite reconcile the notion of the Scriptures as the literally-true revealed word of God with the selling of indulgences or the absolute authority of the Pope in religious matters. When the worldly, corrupt Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, fell ill and began to order the sacrifice of oxen on the altar of Jupiter in order to cover all possible bets, the northern European clergy was outraged, while the Italian clergy was merely amused.
Furthermore, the Europeans had discovered their past and realized that at their heights the pagan Roman and Greek civilizations had been technically and artistically superior to their own, at least as of the early 14th century, and that the ancients had created their knowledge and not merely had it revealed to them. All of these forces came together and created the turmoil which was to be called the "Renaissance." The Renaissance was a purely European phenomenon in which Western civilization became European civilization.
The essential ingredient in the Renaissance was the humanistic belief that man was the measure of all things and that man could predict and control his own destiny. Jesus had taught a similar notion by saying, "The kingdom of heaven is within you" and that all ethical persons were the children of God.
The doctrine of free will was, of course, also official Catholic dogma, but as we can see in Leonardo da Vinci's face, he really believed in the power of his will. Soon the exhilarating realization dawned on the collective mind of 15th-century Europe that they were actually producing new and better art than even the ancient Greeks had, and that they now knew more mathematics and science than anyone in history. There was an infinite universe to be understood and won, and it was within the power of humanity to do this. This realization produced the Renaissance, an ethical revolution that has not yet run its course, although the Renaissance is often considered to have ended with the death of Elizabeth I early in the 17th century. The Renaissance attitude is what makes Western (European) civilization unique and different from all other civilizations which have ever existed.
"The Measure of Man"
Da Vinci Self-Portrait
Contrast the Renaissance attitude with, for example, the fatalism of Mesopotamia and Islam, the mystical pessimism of India and Buddhism in which ultimate death is a goal, or the conservatism of Confucian China in which human harmony was the goal and the greatest wisdom was a product of the past. The Europeans of the Renaissance, without fully knowing what they were doing, embraced the evolutionary ethic and made it a part of their collective mind. This was eventually to disrupt the Catholic Church, but it was the Church itself which had made it possible by preserving and extending Greek philosophy and then by hybridizing it with Jewish ethical purpose in the teachings of Jesus.
At first the Church hierarchy viewed the Renaissance as a favorable indication of the superiority of Christianity over Islam, which produced no significant innovations after the 13th century. Islam itself had been irreversibly disrupted in the 13th century by Genghis Khan and the Turks and their descendants, who were the last wave of barbaric nomads to seriously threaten civilization. However, as is usually the case when barbarians conquer a superior culture, the Mongols and Turks became Muslims, and the Turks inherited the Arabic part of their empire. The conflict between a weakened Islam and a rejuvenated Europe came to a head in Iberia.
Islamic civilization had reached its peak in Iberia, but it had never fully conquered the Christian kingdoms. By the end of the 15th century, the Catholic kings drove Islam from the Iberian peninsula. This was the first significant inroad that Western Christianity made in the Islamic world. Eastern Christendom, except for parts of Russia, fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. Before the 16th century, it had mostly been a problem of keeping Islam at bay. After this Islam was to begin an unsteady retreat under pressure from Christian Europe and finally, with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in this century, to retreat almost entirely from Eastern Europe.
The spirit of free and universal inquiry and creativity initiated by the Renaissance could not be contained. In the 16th century Luther, a Catholic priest, logically and most persuasively challenged the authority of the Pope. He claimed that all authority lay in the Bible and that each individual Christian could save his own soul by interpreting the Bible according to the dictates of his own conscience and trying to follow these dictates. This was an unbearable challenge for the Roman Church, reminiscent of the Gnostic heresies. (The Gnostic Christians of the early Christian centuries were much more in harmony with the evolutionary ethic and the teachings of Jesus than the Catholic bureaucracy, but they were annihilated by Rome when Catholicism became the official religion in the fourth century [581, 639].)
The Lutheran heresy spread throughout northern Europe and was mutated in England by Henry VIII and in Switzerland by Calvin, as well as by the many other Christian sects that continue to form up to the present time. The Catholic Church found itself besieged and began to fight for its life. In the process it became more repressive than it had been, but also more dynamic. It created the Jesuit Order as an antibody against the Protestant infection. In spite of the initial negative purpose of the Jesuits, they became a major educational force for spreading Western civilization throughout the world. However, their ideological base was destructive. They were to preserve southern Europe and Latin America for the Pope at the cost of partially closing the southern European mind and making the formerly most creative people in Europe the least creative. For all their discipline, brilliance, and erudition, the Jesuits have not been particularly inventive or creative. There are, of course, notable exceptions, such as Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
The persecution of Galileo marked a turning point in which the creative impetus switched mainly, not entirely, to Protestant Europe. However, now Europe had competitive Christianity and a high-feedback environment. Technical and scientific knowledge could not be kept from the Catholic countries. Even if their creativity was inhibited, it was not totally destroyed. The least Catholic of the nominally Catholic countries, France, was to compare favorably with England, Scotland, Holland, and Germany as a creative society, particularly after the secular revolution of 1789. (Now that Spain is secularizing its culture, it should regain its former creativity.) The collective mind of Western civilization was stimulated and liberated as never before. Religion became increasingly unimportant to the national purpose. And here lay the seeds of destruction. For in overthrowing religion as a motivating factor in the national life and substituting the pursuit of national wealth and power in its place, Western civilization began to loose its ethical structure.
We note that wealth is merely a special kind of power, and power is the means to control the environment, not necessarily through creativity (see Chapter 7). Europe often threw out ethics with superstition. The liberalism of Protestantism eventually made it religiously and ethically meaningless. But in the meantime, the Protestant spirit was ideally suited to the development of capitalism. Protestantism was action-oriented.
The Protestant Spirit
A person, and almost certainly a nation, which seeks to maximize creativity will increase its wealth and its power, at least in the long run; but it is also possible to increase power, at least temporarily, while decreasing creativity. This is what began to happen ever so slowly to Western civilization. The countries of Europe used their rapidly accelerating technological power to exploit first their own citizens and then peoples of all the countries in the world that had technically inferior cultures. This was aptly shown by the deplorable working conditions in the 19th century in England (the nation with the most advanced technology at the time) and even more poignantly in the Opium War with China in the mid part of that century.
In the Opium War the British Empire imposed the Opium Trade on China through military force solely for the economic benefit of British commercial interests. The British tried to salve their conscience by using the same treaty which gave them an opium monopoly in China to also give them the right to send in Christian missionaries, thereby giving a special ironic ring to Marx's dictum of twenty years later that "religion is the opiate of the masses." The excesses of capitalism were to be partially checked in democratic countries by increasing wealth and competition and to a lesser extent by the labor unions and special laws (e.g., the Reform Act in England) which supposedly protected the ordinary citizen from capitalistic predation. In nondemocratic countries, capitalistic predation was tobe replaced by a new deleterious, psychosocial mutation - communism - which would promise security without freedom and in the process destroyboth.
In capitalistic countries there is a battle going on now between monopolistic capital and monopolistic labor, each seeking to take maximum advantage of the other. In communist countries, a monolithic bureaucracy, which destroys all negative feedback, has taken absolute control of the society and is destroying ethics. The losers in all this turmoil are humanity and the evolutionary process. More will be said of this later.
For now we merely note that the liberation of the human spirit which began with the Renaissance also liberated a new type of predation by a new wave of Aryan-speaking people, the Europeans (the Soviet Union and the United States are more primitive outliers of European civilization), even more profound and in some cases more destructive than the initial Aryan wave begun 3,800 years previously. (For example, the Tasmanian people were totally annihilated by the British in the 19th century.) However, this time the Aryans were usually the most civilized peoples. They were to spread their newly invented technology, but not with the same ease as they had spread chariot technology. The inventive spirit which created Western technology was more difficult to communicate than the technology itself.
Some highly different civilizations were eventually able to use and then copy the machines themselves, most notably the Japanese. The Japanese were a semibarbaric outlier of Chinese civilization who absorbed Western technology in the late 19th century. However, no nation without a full European culture has yet been able to systematically invent new machines superior to those of the West. Although the Japanese were able to mass-produce Western innovations better than the West itself, the Japanese have not yet equaled Western creativity. Mao Tse Tung tried to Europeanize the Chinese by imposing his own brand of Marxism on China and destroying all vestiges of Confucianism. The more recent Chinese communist policies have led to a temporary opening of their society and a rehabilitation of Confucianism. It is possible that the creative and highly disciplined Chinese people may become technological innovators under this system, at least for a while. Eventually, Chinese communism, like any other closed, bureaucratic ideology, will destroy the creativity of China just as bureaucratic ideology has destroyed all other civilizations - by closing the mind and destroying the imagination.
The competition between human societies was to become competition in the ability to invent - not in the ability to produce or even the emotional ability to fight, as World War II and the cold war would show. Those special qualities of brain and mind that produce a creative society, as opposed to merely a cooperative and productive society, were to become of paramount importance in human evolution. By the late 20th century a situation would arise in which some societies could invent faster than their competitors could copy, as evidenced by the growing disparity in computer technology between the United States and most other countries. Moreinnovations have been produced in the 20th century than in the entire past history of the human race. However, that creativity has been limited almost entirely to the physical and biological environment, and it is ending.
In the psychosocial environment humanity still attempts to predict and control by the same forms of self-delusion as did the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Europeans of the Middle Ages. Humanity today uses science to predict and control the physical and biological environment, but primarily ideology (e.g., religion, astrology, and fads) in the psychosocial environment. This creates an imbalance in psychosocial evolution analogous to specialization. The central problem in the modern world is that humanity cannot creatively predict and control itself. However, 300 years ago there lived a man in Holland who showed us how to create our own creativity.
Although morality, the ability to predict and control our own ethics, was first created by the great prophets and moral leaders of the sixth centuryB.C., theirs was a basically mystical morality not fused with science. Socrates and to a lesser extent Confucius were rational but not scientific. In the 17th century Spinoza invented scientific ethics and made a true synthesis of mysticism and science.
Bertrand Russell referred to Spinoza as "the noblest and most lovable of all the great philosophers...ethically he is supreme" . Goethe, one of the most creative men in history, read Spinoza every day and tried to guide his life by Spinoza's teachings. Einstein, when asked if he believed in God, proclaimed that he believed in the God of Spinoza. Einstein carefully studied Spinoza and used his understanding of Spinoza to understand nature and the working of the universe.
Spinoza taught that God is all that is, and that each of us is a modification in the body of God. Today quantum mechanics is confirming this holistic view of the universe. The only purpose of life, according to Spinoza, is to love God. We love God by emulating Him and understanding Him and His laws. In the process we maximize our creativity and that of our fellow humans by learning, teaching, and creating (emulating God) to the best of our ability. Spinoza derived his theories by mystical intuition combined with pure logic and mathematical reason. He used no ideology, but starting from basic axioms and definitions he derived his system mathematically, just as Newton was at the same time to derive his Principia Mathematica. While the latter became the first universal scientific model of physical reality, Spinoza's focus was on the reality of the human mind in its highest form. He showed every human being who wished to know that reality how to increase ethics and become moral. Yet few persons have read Spinoza and even fewer persons have understood him.
Those who have understood and accepted the teachings of Spinoza have had their creativity greatly increased, as was the case with Goethe, Einstein, and Russell. Yet others have misunderstood and distorted the teachings of Spinoza. Most notable among these is the line of thinkers - Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, etc. - leading to Jefferson, and the line of Leibnitz, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Engels, etc., leading to Lenin.
Spinoza first showed how a republican, free society leads to maximum creativity. But he had little confidence in the democratic process. Freedom was essential to progress, but popular democracy was not necessarily the best way to achieve or maintain freedom, since the masses were subject to the manipulation of their fears and prejudices by demagogues. Socrates had understood the same thing 2,100 years earlier.
Through various misinterpretations of Spinoza, Thomas Jefferson, who was as enlightened and ethical a leader as any nation ever had, came to the conclusion that freedom could only be preserved by a popular republican democracy in which the opinion and vote of each citizen had equal weight and that the majority could, through its elected leaders and alleged representatives, impose its will on the minority, although he favored a bill of rights to protect individuals against majorities and government in general. This mistake led to the system of government of the United States, which represents a new civilization based on the democratic ethic. It is believed that the maximization of freedom for all persons is the greatest good. The ideology says that this can be achieved by a popular republican democracy plus a constitution (especially, the Bill of Rights) to protect the rights of dissenting minorities. What this has produced is a nation allegedly dedicated to freedom in which individual liberty is constantly diminished through ever growing government bureaucracies and corporate monopolies, which manipulate the government, together with unethically restrictive laws and confiscatory taxes, which favor the bureaucracies and the monopolies over the individual citizens. Furthermore, it is a country which supports oppressive tyrannical governments in all parts of the world as a lesser of two evils and as a means of combating communism.
Communism as well as Nazism as ethical systems can be traced directly to Hegel, who considered Spinoza the greatest philosopher who had ever lived, although he had little understanding of him. Hegel and Marx incorporated Spinoza's greatest mistake into their philosophies by seeing history as a deterministic process subject to closed modeling. Spinoza had not gone quite that far, but Hegel and Marx did. Leninist communism became the most abominable tyranny in history.
Human history is an extragenetic continuation of human genetic evolution. All evolutionary processes are nondeterministic quantum processes not subject to closed modeling. The only thing that can stop the evolutionary process is to close it, as Islam did. This is precisely what Leninist communism has attempted in the Soviet Union and other communist countries.
Communism represents a civilization based on the materialistic ethic of maximizing individual security through the ideology of government control of everything, including the flow of all information between all citizens of communist states. This rigid control of everything eventually produces ever diminishing security for a society which destroys its citizens' creativity by destroying all negative feedback and punishes them for not being totally submissive or in any way criticizing communist ideology and authorities.
Spinoza's teachings, although replete with mistakes, are highly ethical in their intent, their approach, and their conclusions. They will enhance the creativity of anyone who uses them as a base on which to build a better understanding of the evolutionary ethic. However, isolated parts of Spinoza's ethics can be misunderstood and lend themselves to perversions of the evolutionary ethic, as has occurred in the United States and the Soviet Union. Furthermore no combination of two false ideologies can substitute for the evolutionary ethic. That is why humanity desperately needs an alternative to communism, capitalistic democracy, and all combinations of the two which are inherently self-destructive. The lack of an alternative up to this time has produced the new entropy.
The New Entropy
The pattern for all civilizations prior to Western civilization was that they would begin with a creative burst and then would become bureaucratized religiously, politically, economically, and socially. In the process, they would pass most of their technological information, i.e., objective truth, not necessarily the false information of religion and bureaucracy, to barbarians or semibarbarians on their periphery. These people would then either conquer the civilization and become absorbed into it, eventually becoming corrupted, or completely destroy the decaying civilization and create a new, more vigorous one of their own. The new civilization would then repeat the process. This is natural selection at the super-metazoan level.
The semibarbaric outliers of the basic European civilization were America and Russia. They were each in analogous relationship to Europe as the Aryans had been to Mesopotamia or the Romans to the Greeks. Each would take the science and technology of Europe as well as a new psychosocial model developed in Europe, but incorrectly derived from Spinoza, to create a psychosocial mutation of European civilization, each more vigorous and more dynamic than the parent civilization. This in turn caused a backflow of information to Europe, which in varying degrees made Europe a hybrid of its own children.
America took the democratic ethic as the basis of its psychosocial revolution. This ethic, which originated in Western Europe, was through America's example eventually to become part of Western Europe.
Russia took as its foundation the materialistic ethic, also originated in Western Europe, and then spread it by force to Eastern Europe in a manner reminiscent of Islam. Both ethics were defective because they were means which were not ends.
The democratic ethic grew in part from the work of Spinoza, Locke, and Hume, who in turn influenced the French rationalists such as Voltaire and Diderot, and the French irrationalists typified by Rouseau. This ethic states that the maximization of freedom is the means to create a progressive civilization independently of what criterion we apply to progress. But as we have seen, the only end in evolution is the maximization of creativity. Freedom is a natural consequence of maximizing creativity; it is not necessarily its cause. A nation which suppresses human freedom will eventually destroy its creativity by destroying negative feedback, but it will not necessarily expand creativity merely by maximizing freedom. Freedom is necessary but not sufficient to maximize creativity. When freedom is used as a means to an end, it becomes an end in itself and produces an undisciplined, artificially egalitarian society which refuses to recognize creative differences and in which creative mediocrity is celebrated and creative genius is ridiculed. This is amply evidenced by the typical forms of American entertainment, in which the hero is an anti-intellectual man of action and the creative genius is a childlike incompetent who cannot cope with practical everyday problems. The scientific evidence is that reality is actually the opposite of this stereotype [769, 770]. The damage of anti-intellectualism is to eventually produce a society of specialists who cannot integrate the physical, biological, and psychosocial sciences to ethically guide human evolution. They replace truth with self-delusion and illusionary knowledge in areas outside their specialty. Above all, the will of ignorant majorities is imposed on more creative minorities.
We see this phenomenon most clearly manifested in the United States, which more than any other country has made the democratic ethic a part of its culture. It manifests itself in political leaders who are ignorant of everything except of how to deceive the people into voting for them. They are specialists in the political technology of manipulating the basest fears and prejudices of their subjects. It manifests itself in highly specialized engineers who only know how to operate, build, and less often design a specific type of machine but care nothing about the social and ethical consequences of the uses of this machine by a corrupt political bureaucracy. It manifests itself in university professors who have learned one subject to the almost total exclusion of everything else and force students into the same specialized, uncreative mold. It manifests itself in parasitical lawyers who produce a legal system devoid of truth or justice, based on legal technicalities together with the manipulation of the fears and prejudices of ignorant juries. It manifests itself eventually by a decrease in creativity which can only be expanded by ethical persons of broad knowledge, who abounded in the Renaissance but have since then undergone a relative decline.
In spite of all these problems the United States is still the most creative component in Western civilization because personal liberty is essential to creativity. It has the best hope of remutating itself in an ethical, evolutionary direction. If it does so it will revitalize the basic European civilization and its cultural outliers, which today constitute the entire human race. The negative feedback essential for accomplishing this task is likely to come from Japan in the future; up to now it has come from the Soviet Union.
Just as the United States is the nation which epitomizes the incorporation of the democratic ethic into European civilization, so does the Soviet Union epitomize the incorporation of the materialistic ethic. The materialistic ethic grew out of the democratic ethic because it soon became clear that freedom was of little value if it only meant the freedom to starve or to be a de facto slave to a social parasite devoid of merit who had inherited power and wealth merely because of the creativity or greed of his ancestors. This ethic was most clearly and persuasively stated by Marx and Engels, who derived their philosophy and method from Hegel, who was in turn a devoted but incompetent and ethically perverse student of Spinoza. Therefore, the equal distribution of the wealth of society and public ownership of the means of production became the rallying cry of the socialistic and communistic movements. "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need." These movements were to varying degrees successful in all countries with even a semblance of European civilization. Virtually all nations give lip service to the materialistic ethic. All the immediate cultural outliers of the Soviet Union, most notably eastern Europe and China, became psychosocial mutations and hybrids of Soviet communism, sometimes through direct Soviet military force as in the case of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Korea, Hungary, Rumania, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia, and sometimes through genuine, but misguided, internal revolution as in the case of Yugoslavia, China, and Vietnam. The Soviet style oppression in some of these unfortunate countries has ended, primarily as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev's moral courage and enlightened policies. This shows that even in the most oppressive and tyrannical of societies there is always hope of change for the better. It is always unethical to give up hope, because it is always unethical to be certain.
Communism ensured its eventual destruction by totally suppressing all dissent and criticism of the political system. By turning their countries into jails and trying to completely control all flow of information and negative feedback, communist leaders greatly reduced the creativity of their often highly creative people. By stifling the criticism from their most ethical citizens and putting them in punitive insane asylums, they became even worse than Islam and they eventually had the same fate as any closed system - irreversible entropy. Only the annihilation of communism could save these societies. If the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev take hold and are expanded, the Soviet Union and its former satellites may reverse their decline. The problem in the United States is much more subtle.
The democratic and the materialistic ethics, as well as any combination of these ethics, are inadequate foundations for a progressive civilization, since they are both means which are not ends. They do not directly incorporate the evolutionary ethic. The competition between the Soviet Union and the United States showed to each the weakness of the other. However, it is difficult for them to learn from one another because the basic weaknesses in both societies are due not so much to ideology as to bureaucracy.
Although the Soviet Union became by far the more bureaucratized of the two systems, the United States is still moving in the same direction of ever increasing government control over individual creativity. In the most important aspects of society - that is, those functions which most directly affect the expansion or preservation of creativity (e.g., education, national defense, politics, land use planning, and basic industrial production) - the two societies have relegated these activities to monolithic bureaucracies consisting entirely of government agencies in the Soviet Union and in the United States of a mixture of government agencies and monopolistic, capitalistic enterprises which manipulate the government. In the United States, five corporations control over 90% of all production of steel; ten control over 90% of all production and distribution of petroleum and its derivatives; for many years one corporation controlled over 70% of all computer sales; less than 1% of the U.S. population owns more than 80% of all the stock in all the corporations. Therefore, the Soviet Union and the United States do not interact creatively to overcome their most important and mutual weakness, which is bureaucracy. Instead, each imitates what is worst in the other. Ideology is also a weakness in the United States, but in a less obvious way than in the Soviet Union. The ideological weakness of communism is obvious in a system that for seventy years justified constant lying and totally oppressing individual creativity not under the control of the state. This eventually produced a society so uncreative that it could not even feed itself. The Soviet Union is beginning to recognize its faults, tell the truth to its people, and reform itself. The same cannot be said of the United States.
The ideology (and weakness) of the United States derives from the almost universal belief that decisions arrived at by majority consent of the electorate are always correct and ethical. Freedom is a valid goal. The democratic process guarantees the eventual destruction of freedom. Science and history show that majorities are almost always wrong in making complex decisions and judgments. The tyranny of a majority is just asdestructive as the tyranny of a minority. Every form of tyranny is unethical.
In the United States a majority of the electorate is ignorant, anti-analytic, and uncreative because of a totally bureaucratized educational system - which is remarkably similar in all countries, irrespective of their ideology. It is a system that uses fear through reward and punishment to condition its students to regurgitate old information instead of creating something new, and in the process destroys their creativity along with their ethics. As a consequence, the American electorate can be easily manipulated and deceived by a slightly more intelligent and unethical political bureaucracy. Therefore, the freedom of political choice is an illusion. All the options are controlled by those who spend billions of dollars to manipulate the majority through lies and misleading emotional appeals to their most irrational fears and prejudices. This manipulation is done primarily through the hypnotic medium of television, which Americans spend an average of fifty hours per week watching. A large majority of American adults read nothing, not even newspapers. Through television and the destructive educational system, a large majority of Americans have become intellectually passive as well as ethically inactive; they have lost the capability even to reason analytically, let alone think creatively. These Americans are the electoral majority, who are manipulated to impose their will on more creative minorities. Eventually it becomes almost impossible for anyone who is not totally venal to be nominated, let alone elected, to any political office. A majority of the electorate repeatedly vote only for candidates who deceive them by speaking the lies that the majority wish to hear. Candidates, who speak the truth, are ethical and creative, are universally rejected even before the nominations. Therefore, they often stop trying. In the words of Bertrand Russell, "democratic electorates eventually elect only persons who are stupid, hypocritical or both." Repeatedly the electorate is induced to vote to cut its own throat, e.g., real estate, tax, and educational laws. The most evil liars in the nation become the political leaders.
Part of the problem is that persons who want power over others should never have it, and only persons who want power run for office. Creative persons value creativity, not power over others. Therefore, they pursue creativity, not power. Only unethical persons see power as an ultimate goal, because they have no confidence in their own creativity. No nation has yet devised a system that prevents all power from eventually concentrating in the hands of those who focus on the pursuit of power. (We will show how to bring about such a system in the following chapters.) Still, in spite of its defects and entropic course, a great deal of personal freedom is guaranteed, although not always given, by the U.S. Constitution. Thisallows some independent educational, social, and economic experimentation to coexist within an increasingly bureaucratized and tyrannical United States. In this there is great hope for humanity.
Through fear of one another the Soviet Union and the United States have come close to annihilating humanity through nuclear war, pollution, and other means . The Soviet Union has begun to reform itself, although these reforms have not yet significantly debureaucratized Soviet society. Nor do we know how long they will last. But the Soviets have at least let some of their eastern European satellites free themselves and throw off the communist tyranny. However, it will take many more reforms for these highly creative peoples to regain their former creativity. Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, who have most repudiated socialism, have the best immediate prospects. The American experience should have taught Gorbachev that glasnost would work better than perestroika.
Glasnost has led to new feedback in Soviet society and its former satellites. If the Soviets refrain from future military intervention, all the former satellites and probably the Soviet Union itself will eventually be transformed into social democracies like the rest of Europe; Leninist communism can endure only through brute force against the will of almost all ethical people. Social democracies are less entropic than communist nations, but not maximally creative. All power to inhibit individual creativity must be taken from all governments, if creativity is to be maximized. Democratic socialism is inherently unethical, unless it is totally voluntary and not imposed by a tyranny of the majority. Only mutually desirable transactions through 100% consensus can ever be ethical or creative. Democracy leads inevitably to social democracy through the unethical manipulation of the fear of the majority and their hatred of the rich. This is moderated only because movements toward laissez-faire capitalism make the majority richer, and confiscatory socialism ends up, eventually, distributing only poverty, as was the case for the communists. It will be shown in Part II that voluntary socialism by 100% consensus of all participants cannot function practically in societies much larger than four cooperating families. Since confiscatory democratic socialism, whereby the relatively poor majority takes private property by force from the relatively rich minority, violates the personal human rights of the minority, it is an unethical system that will eventually destroy itself, just as communism already has.
The only ethical way to overcome bureaucratic entropy and begin perestroika in any society is to take away the bureaucracy's power over individual creativity, and empower individuals through ethical laissez-faire capitalism within a free society. Not even the United States, another social democracy, seems capable of doing that. What all governments have shown is that no government can ever be trusted, because all governments are dominated by persons who value power over creativity. That is why "that government which governs least governs best." Those who value human evolution and wish it to continue must change the world by first changing themselves, so that they become maximally creative as individuals and as independent groups outside the bureaucratic system. This process is called "Creative Transformation."
© John David Garcia, 1991, All rights Reserved.