More fearful than a final sleep, to me, is indefinite wakefulness in a world where the body can be kept plodding along, but no doctor can mend the riven heart of man.
Tony Woodlief. Frozen Heads and Riven Hearts. Image Journal Blog. September 6, 2011.
The past few posts have been about the new hopeful eschatology cropping up in different disciplines (although Bob Dylan seems to be seeing though it, like he does). I’ve mentioned that it is showing up in art. However, science, championed by Ray Kurzweil, has been claiming that we will achieve some version of immortality by 2030, when we translate our brains into binary code and onto chips. Tony Woodlief addresses one of the problems with that line of thinking on his blog at Image Journal.
N.T. Wright addresses the “gap” of evil in another way: “The myth [of Englightenment progress] then, cannot deal with evil, for three reasons.
- First it can’t stop it: if evolution gave us Hiroshima and the Gulag, it can’t be all good. There is no observable reason in science, philosophy, art, or anywhere else to suppose that if we simply plow ahead with the enlightenment dream these glitches will be ironed out and we’ll get to utopia eventually…
- Second, even if "progress” brought us to utopia after all, that wouldn’t address the moral problem of evil that’s happened to date in the world. Suppose the golden age arrived tomorrow morning; what would that say to those who are being tortured to death today?…
- The myth of progress fails because it doesn’t in fact work; because it would never solve evil retrospectively; and because it underestimates the nature and power of evil itself and thus fails to see the vital importance of the cross, God’s no to evil, which then opens the door to his yes to creation. Only in the Christian story itself…do we find any sense that the problems of the world are solved not by a straightforward upward movement into the light but by the creator God going down into the dark to rescue humankind and the world from its plight. (Wright, Surprised by Hope).
I suppose, when the new hopeful eschatologies react against the Christian story, it’s because much popular Christianity has subscribed to the same myth of progress that brought about the terrible fall of modernism. Either that, or much of popular Christianity subscribed to the post-modern despair and said, “The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket, so we must simply escape it by some sort of rapture.” In fact, if a person looks at the history of the rapture myth, it only came into popularity in the middle of the 20th century, probably out of the despair of the times, and a reaction against their father’s modernist hopes in progress.
The orthodox Christian story subscribes to neither, but to one that redeems the fallen creation, bringing justice to all who have suffered, or caused, an injustice throughout history while at the same time stopping evil once and for all.
This should be my last post on the end of the world for a while. Thanks for bearing with me.